April 12, 2012
No. 1 star: Brendan Ranford, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick in the eye of a desperate, dramatic five-goal comeback that allowed the Blazers to stay alive in their Western Conference series with a 5-4 win over the Portland Winterhawks. Ranford (1G-2A) scored the tying goal, sent Dylan Willick in on goal for the untying goal and also helped kill off a late Portland power play.
The Blazers came in down 3-0 in the series and fell behind 4-0 before the game was 11 minutes old. Down to its last strike, Kamloops climbed back into the game and got a break when Winterhawks star Ty Rattie left with a back ailment after being checked by the Blazers' JC Lipon. Overagers Bronson Maschmeyer and Brandon Herrod scored late in the second period to pull Kamloops within a goal. That cleared the floor for Ranford, who drove hard to the net 6:03 into the third to collect the tying goal. Ninety-four seconds later, he fed Willick for the winner.
It's the second time in recent weeks that the Blazers have beaten Portland. Coincidentally, the Winterhawks were missing a star each time, since the previous occasion came while Sven Bärtschi was on his call-up with the NHL's Calgary Flames.
No. 2 star: Brayden Point, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
The 16-year-old Point continued his stellar playoff, scoring the series-winning goal 8:50 into OT as Moose Jaw won 4-3 at Medicine Hat to wrap up the sweep. Point helped the Warriors avoid a case of the 'up 3-0 ' complacency, also assisting on teammate James Henry's opening goal as part of a two-point night.
It is remarkable that the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Point (5G-3A in nine playoff games) has been able to lend so much to the Warriors after playing midget hockey with the Calgary Buffaloes this season. Suffice to say, he is making the Warriors look prescient for nabbing him No. 14 overall in last spring's bantam draft when some teams were wary because of his diminutive stature. Point is the first rookie to get two overtime goals in the post-season in one year since Brennan Bosch did so in 2006 — and he'll have at least one more round to try for a third.
No. 3 star: Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The 16-year-old was the game's first star as Halifax played desperate and beat Quebec 2-1 to avoid a sweep in their quarter-final series. Drouin scored the game's opening goal — giving him five in eight post-season contests after scoring just seven in 33 games during the regular season — and was dangerous throughout the night.
Honourable mention: Martin Gernat, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Get this: the first star in the Oil Kings' 19th consecutive win was Gernat, who was marking his 19th birthday. The Edmonton Oilers draft pick sniped two goals from his defence spot and finished plus-4 in the 6-0 rout that completed the Oil Kings' four-game sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Honourable mention: Ryan Tesink, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
The St. Louis Blues draft pick had two goals, including a go-ahead second-period tally, in the 5-3 win over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar that wrapped up Saint John's second-round sweep. Tesink popped in a pair of feeds from the other half of Saint John's Blues brothers, Stephen (Birdman) MacAulay, in the second period to open a two-goal lead for the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champions. Jonathan Huberdeau scored two more goals for Saint John to keep the Drakkar at bay.
Potent notables — Graduating Tigers defenceman James Bettauer had two goals in his final WHL game ... Phoenix Coyotes prospect Brendan Shinnimin got his 12th point in seven playoff games, scoring to help Tri-City win 2-1 at Spokane and take a 2-1 series lead ... Draft-year London Knights forward Josh Anderson scored his first OHL playoff goal ... Edmonton Oilers draft pick Tobias Rieder got his ninth of the playoffs, tops in the Ontario league ... In the QMJHL, Alexandre Mallet (1G-1A) was the first star as Rimouski beat Blainville-Boisbriand 4-3 in overtime to tie the series 2-2 ... Los Angeles Kings second-round pick Chris Gibson (30 saves) backed the Chicoutimi Saguenéens to a 2-1 series-tying win over Shawinigan.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.