No. 1 star: Matt MacLeod, Brampton Battalion (OHL)
The 19-year-old right wing had a career-first hat trick and career-high four points to boost the Battalion to a 5-3 win over the Barrie Colts. The Battalion actually had their playoff seed locked in and the Colts had to win to retain hope of finishing first in their conference, so it was impressive that Brampton had its act together.
MacLeod (3G-1A, +2) and his linemates, centre Patrik Machac (1G-3A, +2) and 16-year-old left wing Blake Clarke (3A, +2), combined for 11 points. The trio produced two goals three minutes apart in the opening period to help the Troops take command (heh) early in its next-to-last home game. The 19-year-old MacLeod was again in on two quick goals in the third period, setting up Machac for the 4-2 goal 6:48 into the third. Machac paid him back by setting up MacLeod's hat trick fewer than two minutes later.
Brampton paid a big cost for the win, though. Forwards Connor Jarvis and Brandon Robinson each left with injuries.
No. 2 star: Brady Brassart, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Brassart (2G-2A, +2) made sure the Hitmen's quest for second place in their conference was not left until the last night. The 18-year-old started a four-goal comeback in Calgary's 5-3 win at Kootenay by finishing off a cross-crease pass from Carolina Hurricanes pick Victor Rask to halve the Ice's lead. The 19-year-old from Vernon, B.C., went back to work in the third period, getting the secondary assists when Hitmen captain Cody Sylvester (2G-1A, +2) scored 99 seconds apart to vault Calgary into the lead.
For good measure, Brassart fired the puck the length of the ice for an empty-netter. The win brings the Hitmen up to 97 points, enough to edge out the MasterCard Memorial Cup-host Saskatoon Blades (93). The Blades will be seeded second in the playoffs since they are a division winner.
No. 3 star: Matt Puempel, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
To all you kids out there, the best way to get payback is on the scoreboard. The Rangers were upset last week about the Saginaw Spirit's Terry Trafford not being suspended for a borderline check that forced Kitchener defenceman Ben Fanelli out of action. In the rematch, Puempel went off by scoring a hat trick to help the Rangers roll 7-1. The tallies gave the Ottawa Senators prospect 35 goals during a campaign where he's only played 51 games due to a shoulder injury.
This week on The Nate and Jo Show
Halifax Mooseheads blue-chipper Nathan MacKinnon scored in his first home tilt since missing 14 games with a right leg injury. Jonathan Drouin had one assist, so he and P.E.I. Rocket overage Ben Duffy are tied 105-105 for the QMJHL scoring title with a game to go for each.
Honourable mention: Jordan DePape, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
The overage right wing whom Sunaya Sapurji profiled on Friday scored in his first game after missing four months due to shoulder surgery. That's all there is to know.
Potent notables — Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons (1G-1A, +1) had a nice night in a win at Vancouver in his likely final WHL game in his hometown. Teammate and 2014 draft-eligible wing Tyson Baillie hit the 25-goal milestone ... Montreal Canadiens third-rounder Tim Bozon (2G-2A, +4) helped Kamloops beat Prince George, eliminating the Cougars and handing Everett the last Western Conference playoff berth ... Nashville Predators pick Brendan Leipsic (3G, +2) retained his three-point scoring-race lead over his Portland linemate Nic Petan (3A, +1), with a 118-115 edge with one game to play. Leipsic is two goals from 50 and linemate Ty Rattie is a hat trick shy ... Lethbridge Hurricanes rookie D Ryan Pilon, 16, was +5 during a win over Medicine Hat ... Boston Bruins first-rounder Malcolm Subban's fifth shutout of the season, a 20-save effort in Belleville's conference title-clinching win at Mississauga, gave him the OHL lead with a 2.14 average and .934 save percentage ... Charlie Sarault got his league-leading 107th point but the Sarnia Sting centre now has one game left. Closest pursuer Vincent Trocheck (104) has two left with the Plymouth Whalers ... Eighteen-year-old Brody Silk had three assists in Sudbury's rout of Ryan Strome-less Niagara ... In the QMJHL, Acadie-Bathurst overage Zach O'Brien got his 46th and 47th goals, giving him an outside shot at repeating his 50-goal feat from 2011-12 ... Baie-Comeau's Russian rookie Valentin Zykov got his 40th, as did Victoriaville Tigres overage Philippe Halley. The Q could finish without a 50-goal scorer, although 10 players have at least 40.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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