Victoria Royals' Ryan Gagnon, Kamloops Blazers' Patrik Maier suspended by WHL for illegal checks (VIDEO)Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net19 hrs ago
The Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Royals met on each of the first two weekends in the WHL. Suffice to say, the early-season animosity between the B.C. Division clubs might have factored into two questionable hits that have resulted in suspensions to the Royals' Ryan Gagnon and Blazers' Patrik Maier.
On Friday night, Gagnon received a charging major/game misconduct after drilling Blazers wing Josh Connolly in the corner, which touched off a scuffle. It looks like Connolly twisted slightly a split-second before contact so that his back was presented to the oncoming Gagnon, which might explain why it was called charging rather than a check from behind. Still, that's an awfully unsafe play.
Midway through the third, of a 7-2 game, Maier blindsided Victoria's Axel Blomqvist following an offside call.
Blomqvist, a 6-foot-5 forward who is a signed Winnipeg Jets prospect, missed Victoria's game the following night. The play was certainly avoidable.
Each offender has been put under indefinite suspension. (Portland's Paul Bittner also had a TBD for a checking-from-behind major/game misconduct he received last Saturday.)
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net23 hrs ago
Vladimir Tkachev, in most likelihood, will play his last NHL exhibition game with the Edmonton Oilers on Monday vening. Newly minted Detroit Red Wings signee Joe Hicketts is already back with the Victoria Royals, where he delivered a bit of brilliance for a nifty off-the-faceoff overtime winner this past weekend.
One is a Russian-born wing and the other a Canadian-born defenceman; one plays on the East Coast with the Quebec League's Moncton Wildcats and the other plays for a Western League team located on Vancouver Island. The common denominator, that people should heed, is that both are 5-foot-8 and were passed over 2014 NHL draft due in part to their smallish frames. Yet each has got more run in pro camps than much larger players who were handed a jersey this past June at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net2 days ago
No. 1 star: Connor McDavid, Erie Otters (OHL)
Not that McDavid and Boston University's Jack Eichel are in direct competition or anything, but the Erie Otters captain has only had seven points in two games since the other top NHL draft prospect delivered a dominant performance in the USA Hockey All-American game on Thursday.
That includes bringing the Otters back for a 5-4 come-from-behind overtime win over the Plymouth Whalers. McDavid (2G-2A, +1) fed defenceman Darren Raddysh (1G-2A) for the OT winner and also scored the equalizer with 1:12 remaining. The Newmarket, Ont., native also directed traffic for an Otters power play that went a crackling 4-for-7.
Two other Otters 17-year-olds, Alex DeBrincat (2G) and Dylan Strome (3A, -1), enjoyed multi-point nights.
No. 2 star: Maxim Lazarev, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Watch Carolina Hurricanes pick Josh Wesley perform spin-o-rama, roof backhand from near-impossible angle (VIDEO)Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net2 days ago
Up until age 14, Carolina Hurricanes draft choice Josh Wesley was a forward. Now that he is in his second tour through the Ontario Hockey League, the Plymouth Whalers defenceman is evidently eager to show that he's got some moves, all while keeping the spin-o-rama in the game now that it's no longer permitted in shootouts.
Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters got the last laugh with a 5-4 overtime win over Wesley and the Whalers on Saturday. However, the move of the night — and very early candidate for OHL goal of the month. — came from Wesley. In the third period, the 18-year-old gained the zone, did the spin-o-rama and then somehow beat Erie goalie Devin Williams short-side with a beautiful backhand.
(McDavid did McDavidian things; the 17-year-old had points on four of five Erie goals, including the tying goal in the penultimate minute of regulation and an overtime assist.)
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net3 days ago
The cliché about first career goals is they all become end-to-end rushes in the retelling. Vaunted Vancouver Giants rookie Tyler Benson will not to embellish or edit at some point down the line.
In a veritable that-just-happened flash on Friday night, the Giants' bright young hope scored his first Western Hockey League goal by collecting the puck off a defensive zone faceoff and zipping past the Portland Winterhawks defence before roofing a backhand to beat goalie Adin Hill.
There is so much here for the hockey-loving mind. First, the 16-year-old Benson got the puck by lifting the stick of Portland's Keegan Iverson, a 220-pound New York Rangers draft choice who is two years his elder. Then he had the acceleration to zoom past defenceman Layne Vivieros in his wake. Finally, he coolly protected the puck while being hacked and whacked as he moved in on goal and waited for Hill to commit.
It all looks like a blur, yet Benson had command of each component. That's special.
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net4 days ago
Jack Eichel is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good at hockey.
As anticipated, the main challenger to Connor McDavid delivered during the All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo on Thursday night, picking up a goal and a helper to lead his side to a 6-3 win. What makes Eichel special — "the talent to accelerate when the puck is on his stick" and make the advanced play seem seamless — was on full display. The Boston University Terriers freshman also showed some great presience on his assist, picking off a pass and then lasering the puck over to Jeremy Bracco for a tap-in.
You could see why the Buffalo Sabres fans in attendance are a little conflicted.
Do they want the Sabres to tank badly this season so that they get in the lottery and draft No. 1 overall next June, and will they want Mac or Jack, as McDavid and Eichel have been tagged?
Panthers pick Juho Lammikko gets 3 points in Kingston Frontenacs debut: Thursday's OHL and QMJHL 3 StarsNeate Sager at Buzzing The Net4 days ago
No. 1 star: Juho Lammikko, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
The Finnish forward was very quick to introduce himself to a new league and new country, getting the third-period game-winner in his first game as the Fronts fended off a Peterborough Petes comeback to win 5-3. Lammikko (1G-2A, +2) showed off some supple hands on that goal 57 seconds into the final frame, going forehand to backhand to roof the puck over goalie Jason Da Silva.
That staked the Fronts to a 4-0 lead. A Lawson Crouse wraparound goal with allowed Kingston, which couldn't finish Peterborough off after taking a 3-0 series lead in the first round last season, to avoid a late fade vs. the Petes. (The Petes had some fun with that on Twitter during the second period .)
Lammikko, a Florida Panthers third-rounder, also had the secondary assist on first-period by linemates Robert Polesello (1G-1A, +3) and Spencer Watson (1G-1A, +2). The trio, which comprise Kingston's top line while Sam Bennett is away with the Calgary Flames, showed good pace and chemistry throughout the night as they delivered for new head coach Paul McFarland..
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net5 days ago
Chances are, one of the Portland Winterhawks diehards who has a tattoo of the team logo might have also watched and agreed with the sentiments of the South Park takedown of the NFL and Washington team owner Daniel Snyder that aired on Wednesday night.
Interesting juxtaposition, potentially?
- Neate Sager at Buzzing The Net6 days ago
Starting from the top of last season's standings, it is time for OHL Burning Questions. For your consideration, the Sarnia Sting.
Last season went like — The Sting fulfilled expectations, in a matter of speaking. There was full acknowledgment it would be a development year and they finished eight points clear of the 19th-place Kitchener Rangers.
2013-14, by the numbers — 17-44-2-5, .301 point pct., 209 GF/336 GA. Tenth, Western Conference. .
Drafted — D Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning, first round), LW Nikolay Goldobin (San Jose Sharks, first).
On the junior-or-pro bubble — Each of the first-rounders is still with his NHL team; Goldobin had a two-point night for the Sharks on Tuesday.
2015 NHL Draft watch — C Pavel Zacha is a legitimiate top 10 hopeful and RW Nikita Korostelev is projected second or third-rounder in NHL Central Scouting's estimation.
1. Why should they start to demonstrate improvement?
Vancouver Canucks prospect Jordan Subban identified as 'dark guy in the middle' in photo caption; Vancouver Sun apologizesNeate Sager at Buzzing The Net6 days ago
There are two ways or 'let's agree to disagree' about it — publishing a photo caption that refers to an athlete by his ethnicity, is a racial double standard. It might also be a comment about staffing levels at some of our nation's big city dailies, but that's not as here or there.
Overnight, like with his older brother, Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, Vancouver Canucks draft pick Jordan Subban had the thrill of scoring a NHL preseason game tempered by an unintentional insult. It was also a reminder that as an Afro-Caribbean Canadian playing the country's alpha sport, "simply being who he is" means things happen to Jordan Subban that would never happen to white hockey players.
Long story short, somehow staff at the Postmedia papers in Vancouver allowed a photo caption to appear online that referred to the 19-year-old Subban, who plays for the Belleville Bulls in the Ontario Hockey League, as the "dark guy in the middle." Brutal. The Sun, understandably, has issued an apology.