Thomas’ Outstanding In This Week’s Prospect Update (Jan. 20-26)
Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs
Christian Thomas captures first star honours for the first time, with three points in his final two games of the week. Claiming second star honours is Brady Vail, who continued his recent surge up the OHL scoring race. Rounding out the three stars is Michael McCarron, who finally pieced together a dominant week. Sven Andrighetto played well this past week, as well as the Bulldogs fourth line. The Bulldogs lost a key player to injury, while Jarred Tinordi played well yet again. Connor Crisp had four points in three games this past week, while Zach Fucale made history. The Canadiens Drakkar duo played well and Tim Bozon extended his point streak. Josiah Didier and MacMillan went head-to-head in NCAA action, as did Sebastian Collberg and Jacob de la Rose in SHL action.
Following a tough loss last update, Sven Andrighetto and the Bulldogs were trying to get back on track. The Bulldogs took on the Marlies to begin the week, where the trio of Andrighetto, Maxime Macenauer, and Christian Thomas were left extremely frustrated. The line had some of the best scoring chances of the game, with Andrighetto creating most of the chances, but were simply unable to bury any. Andrighetto was -1 and had four shots on goal in the game. The Bulldogs took on the Monsters the following night and dominated. Andrighetto one-timed a brilliant feed from Thomas for an easy goal to end an eight game goalless drought. Andrighetto would also add a secondary assist and would be named first star. In the final of the back-to-back-to-back, Andrighetto was held pointless. Although his statline didn’t stand out, he performed very well and looked terrific with the puck on his stick. Andrighetto is tied for the Bulldogs’ lead in goal scoring with nine goals and has nineteen points in total.
This past week summed up the beginning of Darren Dietz‘s professional career as he was up and down. Dietz began the week with a very nondescript performance against the Marlies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a rookie defenceman. Against the Monsters, Dietz put in a tremendous performance. While pointless, Dietz was +2 on the night and was highly implicated in the play. Dietz dropped the gloves twice in the spirited affair. Dietz’s worst performance of the week came against the Wolves. Dietz took an undisciplined penalty and was directly responsible for a goal against as he turned the puck over. Dietz, like most rookie defenceman, has gone through his fair share of ups and downs. Dietz has just four assists this season in 26 games.
Like many Bulldogs, apart from one game Gabriel Dumont didn’t play particularly well. The week began against the Marlies, where the typically high-shooting line consisting of Dumont, Mike Blunden, and Nick Tarnasky was limited to just three shots. Dumont, in frustration, dropped the gloves with Sam Carrick. The following game, Dumont got on the board for the only time this past week with shorthanded marker on a breakaway. Dumont also dropped the gloves earlier in the game with Matt Hunwick. Against the Wolves, the Blunden-Dumont-Tarnasky line was rather anemic for the second time. They struggled to create much of anything, save for a goal scored well after the buzzer. Dumont has nine goals and nine assists in 40 games this season.
Morgan Ellis has been terrific this season and his play this past week was also very good. Against the Marlies, Ellis was extremely noticeable, despite being without the recently recalled, Nathan Beaulieu. He created chances offensively and fired five shots on goal. Ellis was strong defensively and made no glaring mistakes. Ellis elevated his play against the Monsters as he once again looked solid both with and without the puck. Ellis was +2 on the night and one of the best Bulldogs on the ice. The following game was disastrous for Ellis, but not because he played poorly. Ellis played well, but in the dying moments of the second period, Ellis crashed hard into the boards and didn’t return to the game. Ellis has seven points and is +11 in 35 games this season.
This past week was the strongest of Stefan Fournier‘s young professional career. Fournier, a staple on the Bulldogs fourth line, opened the week with a strong game against the Marlies. Fournier was involved offensively and had a prime scoring opportunity, but was unable to finish. Fournier finished the game with two shots and an even rating. Against the Monsters, Fournier exploded for his first ever two point night at the AHL level. He grabbed the primary assist on Joonas Nättinen’s eventual game-winner with a wraparound that flung out to Nättinen’s stick. Fournier would also tally another assist on an insurance marker. Fournier’s worst performance of the week was against the Wolves. Fournier wasn’t particularly noticeable. Fournier has five points and 77 penalty minutes in 27 games this season.
For the most part, Patrick Holland has been unnoticeable in recent games. Unfortunately, this trend continued, as the Bulldogs top line continued to struggle. Against the Marlies, Holland was only noticeable when he was losing the puck. The following game, Holland grabbed just his third point in his last sixteen games with an assist on Martin St. Pierre’s goal. Holland did show more signs of life in the game, as he ventured into the tough areas of the ice, looking to create chances. Unfortunately, Holland reverted back to his form in the first game against the Wolves. For the most part, Holland looked overwhelmed and was far from the creative player he has proven he can be at the AHL level. Holland has to play better, as he has just eleven points in 29 games this season.
For the first time since early December, Robert Mayer made back-to-back starts this past week. Mayer was the back up against the Marlies, but started against the Monsters. Mayer played a strong game, stopping 28 of 30 shots. Against the Wolves, Mayer faced 44 shots, stopping 40 of them. While he would like to have a goal or two back, he played well. Mayer has a less than stellar 4-8-2 record this season, along with a 2.96 goals-against-average and a 0.903 save percentage.
Last update, Joonas Nättinen played a measly 1:45 in his NHL debut and was then returned to the Bulldogs. Nättinen, apart from creating one good scoring opportunity, was very quiet against the Marlies. Nättinen finished the night with no points, no shots, and four penalty minutes. Nättinen posted a tremendous performance against the Monsters the following night. Nättinen found himself with an open net after a Stefan Fournier wraparound attempt, and made no mistakes, burying the eventual game-winning goal. Nättinen was +2 and had two shots on goal. Against the Wolves, Nättinen played well, despite linemate Fournier making little impact. Nättinen was involved at both ends of the ice and a strong game. Nättinen has six goals and six assists in 40 games this season.
Photo: The Reusch Blog
Last update was tough for Greg Pateryn as he struggled. This past week, Pateryn focused on steady hockey and he played quite well. Against the Marlies, Pateryn and his partner, Jarred Tinordi, both played well. Pateryn finished the night with an even rating and three shots on goal. Pateryn had another solid game against the Monsters. While he was far from being a factor offensively, he played very strong, defensive-minded hockey. Pateryn’s play was reflected on the scoresheet, with a +1 rating. The trend continued against the Wolves. The Wolves scored four goals and Pateryn wasn’t on the ice for any of them. Pateryn has set career-highs in both assists, with nine, and points, with sixteen.
Although noticeable as of late, Christian Thomas has struggled to produce points. This week that changed, as Thomas exploded for three points, but that was following a frustrating performance against the Marlies. Thomas, on a line with Sven Andrighetto and Maxime Macenauer, created many chances; however, they were unable to break the shutout. Against the Monsters, Thomas picked up his first point in three games with a rather incredible pass to Andrighetto, who scored probably the easiest goal of his professional career. Thomas late added a goal with a terrific effort in the crease, ending a six game goalless drought. The Bulldogs struggled for most of the game against the Wolves, but Thomas stood out. He picked up a goal by ripping a shot far side and had his fair share of scoring chances. Thomas has five goals and nine assists in his first 23 games as Bulldog.
This past week was an interesting one for Jarred Tinordi whose statistics were far from good, but he played very well. Against the Marlies, Tinordi was -1, but had a solid all around game. Tinordi looked strong defensively and was pretty involved physically. Tinordi dropped the gloves with the Marlies’ tough guy, David Broll, in an emotional tilt. Against the Monsters, Tinordi was +1 with two shots. Tinordi showed flashes of confidence with the puck and was rock solid defensively. He threw his weight around a bit more than he normally does. Tinordi’s strongest game of the week came against the Wolves, where he was -1. Tinordi played extremely well offensively. He started the game with an end-to-end rush and then a powerforward-esque drive to the net. He also made numerous strong passes and was highly involved at both ends. Tinordi has five points in 37 games this season.
Dustin Tokarski received just one start his past week. It wasn’t a particularly strong one, as Tokarski let in two goals on just 22 shots against the Marlies. For the remaining two games, Robert Mayer was given the starts. Tokarski has a 15-9-2 record, along with a 0.928 save percentage and a 2.09 goals-against-average.
Last update, Connor Crisp set a new career-high in assists and this past week, Crisp would set another career-high. The Wolves took on the Petes in Crisp’s first game of the week. It was a difficult game for the Wolves, who simply couldn’t keep pace with the Petes top line. Crisp, who was shuffled through the line up all game, was held pointless and -1 in the 7-4 loss. The Wolves headed back home for a game against the Spirit the following night. Crisp played on the third line with Danny Desrochers and Jacob Harris, the line that scored the Wolves’ only two goals. In the second period, Crisp scored a with terrific shot from the wing, snapping his two game pointless streak, his longest in two months. Crisp would also add a goal in the shootout, but the Wolves lost 3-2. Two days later, the Crisp and the Wolves took on the Colts, where Crisp exploded for his first ever three assist game in the OHL. Crisp was a force all game, creating chances and using his size well. Crisp has 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points, a new career-high in 46 games this season.
Off the heels of an incredibly disappointing week, Michael McCarron was looking to make an impact. Bo Horvat missed the Knights first game, meaning that McCarron got a chance to play with Josh Anderson and Gemel Smith. The Knights ripped the Sting apart by a score of 8-1 and McCarron got in on the scoring with a quick wrister that beat the goaltender. Throughout the night, McCarron created quite a few scoring chances using his speed and strength. McCarron later dropped the gloves with Josh Chapman and was ejected for instigating. The Knights had a rematch of last week’s game against the Rangers to close out the week, where McCarron centred the fourth line (for the first time this season) between Chandler Yakimowicz and Tait Seguin. McCarron absolutely dominated in the faceoff dot and the opposition. McCarron nailed everything wearing a Rangers jersey, dishing out numerous big hits. McCarron would also wreak havoc on the forecheck with his tenacity, strength, and speed. McCarron would be rewarded with two assists, including one coming at the end of one of his best shifts in a Knights uniform. The dominant effort by McCarron helped the Knights to a 6-1 victory. McCarron is in the midst of his most productive month in the OHL, with seven of his 20 points on the year coming in just ten games.
Not to be out down by the other OHL prospects, Brady Vail also had an incredible week. The Spitfires headed to Sault Ste. Marie to take on the Greyhounds to open the week. Vail grabbed two secondary assists, while shutting down the Greyhounds explosive and deep offence. The Spitfires won the match up by a score of 5-2. In the final game of the week, Vail and the Spitfires took on the Sting in one of the most thrilling games of the season. Both teams combined for 81 shots and 15 goals. Brady Vail got in one scoring with three assists, two of which were tremendous passes and one that was on the tying goal. The game went to a shootout, where the Spitfires won 8-7. Vail has eleven points in his last four games and thirty in his last fifteen. On the season, Vail 23 goals, 42 assists, and 65 points in just 48 games, good enough for seventh in OHL scoring.
Last update, Zachary Fucale returned to the Mooseheads, posting three wins in three games to put him on the verge of making history. Fucale posted three more wins this past week, with the first of which coming against the Sea Dogs. Fucale stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced en route to a 6-2 victory. With the win, Fucale became the fastest ever QMJHL goaltender to reach 100 wins. The feat came in just 145 games. Fucale grabbed his second win of the week with 20 save performance against the Saguenéens. Fucale would extend his win streak to seven games with a tremendous performance against the Screaming Eagles, where he stopped 21 of 23 shots and came up big for his team numerous times. Fucale has allowed just one goal in five of his last seven starts. Overall, Fucale sits second in the QMJHL in goals against average with 2.30 and first in wins with 25 in just 34 games played.
Jérémy Grégoire came into this past week with five points in his last four games and was looking to continue his production. Grégoire and the Drakkar took on the Titans to begin the week. Grégoire played one of his best games in recent memory as he absolutely dominated nearly every shift. Despite his strong performance, the game was pointless heading into overtime as Grégoire was unable to solve the goaltender. In overtime, Grégoire drove the net hard, and deflected point shot past the goaltender despite being tied up, winning the game. Grégoire finished the night with eight shots on goal, his second highest total of the season. Against the Sea Dogs, Grégoire started the game well, but a power outage would delay the second period. It took awhile for him to get going again, but when he did he was instrumental in creating the Drakkar’s fourth goal. The Drakkar took on the Wildcats for their final appearance of the week. Grégoire performed well yet again, posting five shots and banging home a rebound for his 24th goal of the season. Grégoire has 24 goals and 22 assists in 46 games this season.
Following a tremendous debut as a Drakkar, Charles Hudon continued to post the points this past week. Although Hudon was pointless against the Titans, Hudon fired six shots on goal and played a very strong, two-way game on a line with Félix Girard and Valentin Zykov. Against the Sea Dogs, Hudon was fairly quiet until the power outage. After the hour and half delay, Hudon came out and absolutely took the game over. Hudon fired on all cylinders and was rewarded with the eventual game-winner, a wrister from the point. Hudon would also add assist with a fantastic pass to send Zykov in alone. Hudon was named first star for his performance. Against the Wildcats, Hudon played yet another very strong game. Throughout the night he had many scoring chances, but was able to bury just one. Zykov made a nice pass to Hudon, who ripped a shot far side, beating the goaltender. The goal was the eventual game-winner, his second in as many games. Hudon has eight points in five games since joining the Drakkar and 49 points in 33 games overall.
It’s no secret that since the trade, Jack Nevins has struggled to find a place in the Huskies line up. Nevins played just two games this past week, the first of which was against the Foreurs. Nevins played his best game as a Huskie, firing six shots on goal and picking up his first goal with a nice redirection. The Foreurs offence would unfortunately overpower the Huskies, as they won the game by a score of 6-3. The following game, the Huskies outshot the Remparts every period, but weren’t able to solve the goaltender. Nevins grabbed just two shots and was pointless in the 3-0 defeat. Nevins has just two points in the eight games since the trade and has slipped well below the point-per-game mark, with 38 points in 49 games this season.
Tim Bozon one of the hottest players in the WHL, currently riding the second longest active point streak in the league. Bozon played just one game this past week, giving him a chance to extend him point streak to nine games. The Ice absolutely destroyed the Warriors by a score of 6-2 backed by a Sam Reinhart hat trick. Bozon would score off a wicked backhand shot to extend his point streak and added an assist. Bozon also was instrumental is creating another goal. Bozon has eight goals and seven assists during his point streak. On the season, Bozon has twenty goals and 28 assists in 49 games.
It was a very tough week for Dalton Thrower, who sat out the final game this week. The Giants opened the week against the Winterhawks, where they were overpowered by the much stronger Winterhawks. Thrower finished the 5-2 loss with an assist and an even rating. The following game, the Giants took on the Tigers. It was similar result as the Winterhawks game. The Tigers won 6-1 and Thrower was pointless and -2 on the night. The Giants faced the Hurricanes two nights later, where they exploded for ten goals. Thrower had just one assist and was +2 in the beatdown. Due to illness, Thrower missed the final game of the week, a 3-1 loss. Thrower has 12 goals and 27 assists in 42 games this season.
Mac Bennett and the University of Michigan Wolverines had last update off, but returned to action this past week. The Wolverines took on rival Michigan State University in a two game series. Bennett was -1 in the first meeting, but the Wolverines came out with the 2-1 victory. The next night, Bennett would play his best game of the season. Bennett began a give-and-go and ended up on a breakaway. Bennett used a series of slick moves to dangle the goaltender and bury his second of the season. Bennett would also add an assist and finish the 5-2 victory with +4 rating. Bennett has two goals and six assists in twenty games this season.
Photo: Rich Clarkson and Associate, denverpioneers.com
Defensive defenceman Josiah Didier hasn’t taken the step up many thought he would in his junior season. This past week, Didier and the Denver University Pioneers took on the University of North Dakota–home to Mark MacMillan. Didier’s Pioneers would lose game one by a score of 4-2. Didier blocked four shots and was even. In the second and final game of the week, Didier and the Pioneers got revenge with a 3-0 win. Didier was pointless and +1 on the night. Didier has just three assists in 24 games this season.
The University of North Dakota and Mark MacMillan took on fellow Canadiens prospect, Josiah Didier, this past week. MacMillan, who has been on fire recently, was looking to continue his strong play. MacMillan would grab an assist on the powerplay in the 4-2 victory. The following game was disastrous for the University of North Dakota. They out shot the Pioneers by seventeen shots, but were unable to solve the goaltender. MacMillan was -2 in the 3-0 defeat, with a lone shot on goal. Since returning from the holiday break, MacMillan has five of his ten points in just six games of his twenty games.
Sebastian Collberg has struggled all season to get ice time with Frolunda, and this past week was no different. Collberg opened the week against MODO Hockey, playing on the fourth line with Evan McGrath and Nicklas Lasu. Collberg registered just over a measly nine minutes of ice in the 2-1 loss. Two days later, Frolunda took on AIK Hockey, where Collberg’s ice time was reduced even further to just under nine minutes of ice time and registered just one shot. Collberg’s best performance of the week came against Jacob de la Rose’s Leksand IF. Collberg grabbed an assist by sending a shot that was deflected. Collberg also received nearly fifteen minutes of ice time, his highest in quite some time. Collberg has two goals and four assists in 32 games this season.
It was yet another strong week for Jacob de la Rose who has played well since his return from the World Juniors. Leksand IF took on Brynäs IF to begin the week. De la Rose was pointless, but registered 17:56 of ice time and a shot on goal. The following game, a match up against Sebastian Collberg, de la Rose grabbed his first assists since early December. De la Rose also was +1 on the night with two shots on goal. De la Rose has equalled his production from last season of twelve points in one less while playing against stronger competition.
With three goals and two assists in his last four games coming into this past week, Magnus Nygren was one of the hottest players in the SHL. Against HV 71, Nygren was held pointless, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying as Nygren fired seven shots on goal and logged 24:45 of ice time. The following game, Magnus Nygren’s hard work paid off. Nygren unloaded a bomb from the blueline on the powerplay, which beat the goaltender who didn’t even move. Nygren also logged nearly 26 minutes of ice time, but unfortunately Farjestad BK would fall 4-2. Nygren has seven goals and four assists in just sixteen games this season.
NOT IN ACTION
Nathan Beaulieu (recalled to the Canadiens)
Louis Leblanc (recalled to the Canadiens [sent down as of January 28th])
Steve Quailer (upper-body injury – listed as day-to-day [occurred November 29th])
Martin Reway (lower-body injury – listed as day-to-day [occurred January 21st])
Artturi Lehkonen (ankle injury – out for four weeks [occurred December 28th])
Mac Bennett’s breakaway goal against Michigan State (24/01/14):
Michael McCarron’s two assist performance against Kitchener (25/01/14):
Brady Vail’s three assist game against Sarnia (26/01/14):
Canadiens pick Zach Fucale may be fastest to QMJHL’s century club: CHL Hot & Cold (featuring many Habs prospects) – Yahoo! Sports
Fucale the youngest goalie to reach 100 wins – Sportsnet
Mooseheads netminder Zach Fucale reflects on making history – Metro News
On the Rush, January 2014 (featuring Collberg and Reway) – Hockey’s Future
Physical Fournier a plus for Bulldogs – American Hockey League
Vail takes game to new level – The Windsor Star
2014 WJC Review: Finland takes home first WJC gold in 16 years (featuring Lehkonen) – Hockey’s Future