Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

North Bay’s Brendan O’Neill blanks Erie Otters: Thursday’s 3 StarsNo. 1 star: Brendan O'Neill, North Bay Battalion (OHL)

O'Neill and his team became just the second club to shut out the high-powered Erie Otters, with the goaltender making 19 saves for his first career clean sheet in the OHL during North Bay's 2-0 victory. This is a bit of a team award, since the close-checking Battalion treated Erie, the second highest-scoring team in the league, to nothing but frustration.

The 19-year-old O'Neill, who's been North Bay's backup for much of the season, rose to the challenge with a big early save on Team Canada forward Connor McDavid. The Ilderton, Ont., native also made a critical save on Belleville Bulls first-rounder Brendan Gaunce, then his team popped in a pair of power-play goals 3:09 apart in the second to take control of the contest.

Erie mustered only one shot on goal during a nine-minute stretch of the third period. Battalion overage captain Barclay Goodrow (1G-1A), who was in on both goals, was named first star inside the Memorial Gardens.

The Guelph Storm, with two, are the only other team to shut out Erie this season.

No. 2 star: Stephen Harper, Belleville Bulls (OHL)

The 18-year-old left wing had to move back to shore up the Bulls' injury-depleted back end, but retained his offensive instincts in a 3-1 road win over the Barrie Colts that breathed life into Belleville's charge for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot. The teams were knotted 0-0 through 40, with Charlie Graham (26 saves on 27 shots) holding the fort for the Bulls. But Harper broke the deadlock 27 seconds into the third and then factored into Cameron Brace's eventual game-winner 5½ minutes into the frame.

Dallas Stars second-rounder Remi Elie had a two-helper night for the Bulls, who are five points behind eighth-place Ottawa. Both teams, along with ninth-place Niagara, which is one point out, have 12 games remaining.

No. 3 star: Curtis Meighan, Kitchener Rangers

On a night of upsets, Meighan (2G, +1) came through with a pair to help Kitchener nab two big points by beating the Windsor Spitfires 4-3. The Ottawa native had only 16 career OHL goals coming into the night, but scored late in the first and early in the second to give the Rangers their first lead and an espresso shot of confidence. Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Matia Marcantuoni scored the winner 5:53 into the third after picking off an ill-advised pass in the Spitfires' zone.

Honourable mention: Darcy Greenaway, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL

The overage got his second goal of the night with 4:25 left, sparking Kingston to a 5-4 overtime win over the Niagara IceDogs in its final visit to the Jack Gatecliff Arena. In a woolly, defence-be-damned tilt where each team hit 40 on the shot counter, Greenaway beat Brent Moran blocker side to force OT. In the extra session, top NHL draft prospect Sam Bennett (2A) carried deep into the Niagara zone and was tripped, but the trailing Robert Polesello pounced to bury the winner. Kingston had lost six of its previous seven games in Niagara.

Potent notables — Brandon Devlin scored two goals as Peterborough beat Saginaw 5-2 to end a five-game skid ... Marvin Cüpper (26 saves) helped Shawinigan win 3-1 at Saint John to move into sole possession of the final QMJHL playoff spot, two points ahead of the Sea Dogs and four up on the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

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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