May 10, 2012
No. 1 star: Mark Pysyk, Edmonton Oil Kings (OHL)
Thanks to the quick reaction and cannon shot from their captain, the Oil Kings are one victory away from winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup after beating the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in Game 5. With a minute to play in a third period where Edmonton had briefly been on the run after giving up the lead, Edmonton-area native Pysyk (1G-1A, +2) made a terrific individual play from his defence spot to produce the decider against the Portland Winterhawks.
With 56 seconds to play, the Buffalo Sabres blueline prospect gloved down the puck at centre ice, squelching Portland's chance to get a line change. Sensing the Winterhawks were sucking wind, Pysyk made a veteran play by arrying the puck over the 'Hawks line before cutting in and wristing a shot past Mac Carruth for the game-winner. Pysyk also created the chance that Jordan Peddle buried earlier in the game for an Oil Kings goal.
Calgary Flames goaltending prospect Laurent Brossoit (27 saves) came up with a big stop in the final seconds as Portland looked for a tying goal. The Winterhawks must win Game 6 on Saturday at home to avoid losing a second consecutive final.
Memo to Don Cherry: there's a Russian in the CHL who finished his junior career with 80 points in 56 playoff games. Galiev (3G-2A) was flying in the Sea Dogs' President's Cup clincher, scoring a natural hat trick after getting two early assists in the 8-0 win over the Rimouski Océanic. That's pretty good production.
The Washington Capitals prospect's five points gave him 34 in 17 playoff games to tie teammate Charlie Coyle for the playoff scoring title. The Moscow native made a slick centring feed to set up Tomas Jurco for the first goal, throwing a pass out front despite being off-balance. Galiev also got the secondary helper on a pretty goal where Nathan Beaulieu threw a backhand saucer pass into that slot that Zack Phillips redirected into the goal. Then he went to work finishing plays, jamming in a rebound to take the lead out to 5-0 after a period and popping the goalie's water bottle off the net with a top-shelf howitzer and the second before scoring again in the third.
No. 3 star: Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Jurco (2G-3A) was the second star in Saint John's coronation, also notching five points in the Rimouski routing. The Detroit Red Wings high second-round choice scored twice in the first period, getting the first goal 4:14 in before knocking a bouncing puck into the net for the 4-0 tally. The Slovak also had assists on all three of Galiev's goals. The big night gave Jurco 29 points in 16 playoff games, fourth in the QMJHL behind Coyle, Galiev and Minnesota Wild prospect Zack Phillips.
Honourable mention: Sven Bärtschi, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Bärtschi (1G-1A) went all out to give the Winterhawks a chance to steal the road win they need, although it wasn't enough for them to win. The Calgary Flames prospect double-shifted throughout the night and was dangerous more often than not, setting up Marcel Noebels in the second minute of the game before getting a tying goal 5:07 into the third. Portland had Edmonton out of sorts throughout the early part of the period and had a gift-wrapped chance to score the winner when New York Rangers prospect Michael St. Croix got a delay-of-game penalty with 8:03 left in the game. However, instead of Portland forging ahead, Edmonton Oilers signed draft pick Kristians Pelss provided a lift for the Oil Kings by setting up T.J. Foster for a chance that almost led to a short-handed goal. Edmonton got it together after that and was coming on well when Pysyk buried the winner.
Honourable mention: Jordan Peddle, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Oil Kings might not have envisioned Peddle (2G-1A, +1 vs. Portland) being one of their most effective forwards in the final. But the 21-year-old centre has played the role of the overager going all out to get to the Memorial Cup in his final season. Peddle's goals were both timely, as he scored late in the first to keep Edmonton from going to the dressing room trailing after the first period in an all-important goal. The Elbow Lake, Sask., native, also put Edmonton up 3-2 late in the second period fewer than two minutes after an equalizer by Portland's Ty Rattie.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.