February 06, 2014
No. 1 star: Sam Bennett, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Make it two out of three for the Frontenacs and Bennett, NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked skater, over blue-chip defenceman Aaron Ekblad and the Barrie Colts.
Bennett (3A, +4) and his wings Henri Ikonen (1G-2A, +3) and Spencer Watson (2G-1A, +2) combined for nine points during Kingston's 10-6 rout on the road over reeling Barrie. The Colts were collectively erratic, leaving Ekblad to absorb a lot of the collateral damage as he finished minus-6 on the night.
Bennett hooked up with Watson and their 17-year-old counterpart Roland McKeown (2A, +3) for a goal in the opening minute. The Holland Landing, Ont., native also helped set up Ikonen later in the frame when the Fronts scored three goals in as many minutes to go up 4-1. Barrie was buzzing early in the third but Bennett made a sage centering pass that Watson eventually banged in to restore a four-goal lead just a minute after an Andreas Athanasiou goal. That gave K-town enough of a cushion to win a sloppy game. Bennett has now tallied at least one point in 28 of his last 29 games. His only goose egg came last week against Windsor, the hottest team in the OHL.
Ekblad had four goals last month in the teams' previous meeting in Barrie. Sic transit gloria.
Speaking of the Spits, captain Koekkoek (1G-1A, +1) factored into the tying and winning goals during a 4-3 win over Sault Ste. Marie as Windsor ran its win streak to seven. Pulling down his usual heavy workload on the blueline, Koekkoek helped Windsor stay in contact with West Division-leading Sault Ste. Marie even though it gave up 42 shots on goal. Windsor twice trailed by two, but New Jersey Devils draftee Ben Johnson jammed in a goal late in the second after Ryan Foss' dogged work taking the puck to the goalmouth, giving Windsor a puncher's chance.
Just prior to the six-minute mark of the third, Koekkoek whipped a low shot from the left point that overage Remy Giftopoulos (1G-2A, +2) tipped by Matt Murray to forge a 3-all tie. With 8:44 left, Brady Vail put the puck on a platter back to Koekkoek at almost the same spot on the ice. The Mountain, Ont., native wired a shot through traffic to put the Spits ahead for good.
No. 3 star: Matt Finn, Guelph Storm (OHL)
The Storm captain and Toronto Maple Leafs second-rounder had a first-star effort during an 8-0 filleting of the Mississauga Steelheads. Guelph kept the OHL lead by routing the Trout, although it didn't break the game open until the second period. Finn (1G-3A, +3) got a primary assist on the icebreaker goal in the first period and then set up a Zack Mitchell power-play tally to open a 3-0 lead midway through the second. It just snowballed from that point, as Finn factored into two tallies in the third to complete his big night.
Honourable mention: Josh MacDonald, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
MacDonald (1G, plus the shootout clincher) and the Petes had their arguable biggest win of the season, coming from three down to clip conference-leading archrival Oshawa 4-3 in a shootout in a game that had 42 penalties, including a goalie fight.
The Petes went down 3-0 in the immediate aftermath of a scuffle that included a goalie fight between Oshawa's Daniel Altshuller and Peterborough's Andrew D'Agostini. Peterborough pulled one back before the end of the frame, then MacDonald and Connor Boland scored 43 seconds part in the third to force overtime. The Petes went 3-for-3 in the breakaway relay, with MacDonald deking Ken Appleby to cinch the bonus point.
Potent notables — Vancouver Canucks signing Dane Fox scored his Erie Otters-record 54th goal during a 3-0 win over Saginaw ... Jake Smith's 25 saves, including a penalty shot stop, helped North Bay blank Sudbury 2-0 and create a tie atop the OHL's Central Division. Sudbury has a game in hand.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.