Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Guelph Storm streaking in several directions, all good: CHL Hot & Cold

Waiting a whole three weeks for the next Guelph Storm-Erie Otters matchup is just too long. The two are setting up an intriguing triad in the OHL's Midwest Division alongside the slow-starting Memorial Cup-host London Knights.

London will likely come around in due time, perhaps not as spectacularly as it did when it ripped off 24 consecutive wins over the final two months of the calendar year last season. The Otters and Storm are each providing two savoury flavours of the month, buttressing deep offences with reinforced goaltending or defence.

Here's a look at who's up and who's down heading into the week.

OHL

Hot: Guelph Storm

It's a toss-up between Erie (10 consecutive wins) or Guelph (seven). Erie got it last week, so let's spread the wealth in this egalitarian exercise. The Storm, who caught London in an ebb phase on Sunday, are regularly posting five- and six-goal nights. Captain Matt Finn, a Toronto Maple Leafs second-rounder, and speedster Scott Kosmachuk, a Winnipeg Jets third-rounder, are each among the OHL's top five in plus/minus.

Guelph's offensive potency, paced by Carolina Hurricanes second-rounder Brock McGinn, is overshadowing that its goalie trade is paying off. Eighteen-year-old Justin Nichols, added from Sault Ste. Marie just before the season, has a 3.06 average and .916 save percentage on a team that does give up a lot of prime scoring chances.

Not: Kingston Frontenacs

Slump or an expected regression? The Frontenacs (.679 point pct., third seed in Eastern Conference) are 1-2-2-1 during a stretch of either non-conference and/or Northern Ontario road games. They have averaged 39 shots on goal during their current four-loss streak, where they ran into some outstanding goaltending by North Bay's Jake Smith, Sudbury's Franky Palazzese and Sault Ste. Marie's Matt Murray.

(Murray, incidentally, is leading the league in average and save percentage.)

Kingston's upshot is that on Saturday, it fought back from being down 2-0 on the road to tie the Soo in the third period. The 'Hounds got the next goal on a deflection.

Canadian NHL team prospects

Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie (No. 7 by Edmonton in '13) — Yep, that is Nurse who's third in defenceman scoring with 15 points in 13 games for the 'Hounds, who have had everything break right during a league-best 11-1-0-2 start. If you're doing an awards watch, it might be between Nurse and Finn for the league's top defenceman honour.

Nurse showed some offensive flair with a rare two-goal game last week.

Michael McCarron, London (No. 25 by Montreal in '13) — The power winger has done a good job of sticking up for teammates through his first dozen games in green and gold, although the OHL's 10-fight threshold entails picking his spots to fight. McCarron had a beaut of a bout with Guelph's Chadd Bauman on Sunday as he tried to give the Knights an adrenalin shot.

Guelph ended up scoring the game's first goal about a minute later.

Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (No. 26 by Vancouver in '12) — Gaunce's valedictory in Bellevegas is picking up steam. The Bulls are in the conference basement, but Gaunce's seven-point output gave them a puncher's chance in all three of their games last weekend. That included a great third-period goal during an eventual OT loss at North Bay.

QMJHL

Hot: Quebec Remparts

Something will have to give Wednesday, when the Remparts take a nine-game point streak (7-0-1-1) into a contest at Colisée Pepsi vs. the third overall Baie Comeau, whose seven-game win streak might be on borrowed time.

New York Rangers pick Anthony Duclair's four-goal game last weekend makes him an automatic headliner. Anaheim Ducks second-rounder Nick Sorensen, who battled injuries in each of first two seasons in the Q, has 11 points over his last five games. Quebec should also be buoyed by beating a top team, Gatineau, while throwing 16-year-old backup Callum Booth instead of 19-year-old starter François Brassard. Can't burn out the No. 1 guy this early, eh.

Not: Victoriaville Tigres

Victoriaville has dropped four in a row, while coughing up 23 goals . Also, overage wing Philippe Hudon has been shelved four games for a check from behind, while OA defenceman Alex Filiatrault might have a significant knee injury.

The good news is that the Tigres (.531 point pct., 11th in the Q) showed more urgency in last weekend's losses, at least as evidenced in the hits department. Victoriaville will try to get turned around with a homestand vs. Gatineau and lowly Shawinigan. At least 19-year-old goalie Brandon Whitney, a Chicago Blackhawks selection, will have a clean bill of health for this weekend.

Canadian NHL team prospects

Fabrice Herzog, Quebec (No. 142 by Toronto in '13) — Herzog is turning the low slot into his office with the Remparts. The 6-foot-2 Swiss scored two goals in a statement win over the tough Gatineau Olympiques on Sunday, giving him 11 on the year and six in his past seven games.

WHL

Hot: Portland Winterhawks

Cue Joe Cocker singing Up Where We Belong. Portland's aggregate margin during its eight-game win streak, 42-21, resembles the typical Oregon Ducks football score. It has also propelled them ahead of Spokane into the Western Conference lead.

Nineteen-year-old Philadelphia Flyers selection Taylor Leier (10 goals, 18 points) and draft-eligible dandy Chase De Leo (eight goals, 18 points) have done excellent work as productive second-liners. The Winterhawks have been dominant at even strength; they're actually only 16th in power-play efficiency.

Not: Red Deer Rebels

Red Deer had a no-pucks practice on Sunday following its fourth consecutive loss, which was also its eighth in 11 games. Workhorse goalie Patrik Bartosak (3.06 average, .916 save pct.) was feared to have sustained a brain injury in a game last weekend, but appears to be fine. Red Deer needs to be squared away quickly. Following Wednesday's tilt vs. Kootenay, a matchup of Sam Reinhart against the Rebels' touted prospects, Connor Bleackley (19 points in 14 games) and Haydn Fleury, Red Deer is on the road for its next six games.

Canadian NHL team prospects

Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert (No. 13 by Winnipeg in '13) — The swift-skating defenceman helped P.A. have a good week, scoring goals in both ends of a home-and-home sweep of the rival Regina Pats. The 18-year-old has been an even or plus player in 10-of-13 games since coming back from the Jets.

Nic Petan, Portland (No. 43 by Winnipeg in '13) — Petan's seven points in four games last week meant his per-game average actually dropped. Both he and Columbus Blue Jackets-drafted linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand have 30 in 15 games, which makes the math really easy.

Tim Bozon, Kootenay (No. 64 by Montreal in '12) — Bozon had three helpers in his first two games for the Ice since the trade with Kamloops that made BTN's Cam Charron very sad. So it looks like the Flying Frenchman had some good early chemistry with top-10 scorers Reinhart and Jaedon Descheneau.

Greg Chase, Calgary (No. 188 by Edmonton in '13) — The line on Chase was that he can run hot and cold, which is why he lasted until Round 7 before the Oilers took a flier on the hometown kid. He ran hot Saturday when he scored all three Hitmen goals in a 4-3 shootout win at Prince George. Chase (13 goals, 22 points) emerging is a top-10 scorer matters all the more for the Eastern Conference-leading Hitmen since they seem to end up in a lot of nip-tuck games.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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