No. 1 star: Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
The Red Deer Rebels might be the WHL's quietest success story, and if Bartosak keeps playing like he did between the pipes on Saturday, the Rebels could be a nightmare to deal with in the postseason.
Bartosak stopped all 52 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night, and set the WHL's season high in shots faced in a shutout. The 19-year-old Czech netminder now leads the league with a .935 save percentage in 50 games, and has posted at least .930 in every month this season other than September (during which he only played three games).
Bartosak's fourth clean sheet of the season was his crown jewel, as he stood tall in the third period as the Broncos fired 24 shots his way. With the win, the Rebels moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference as Prince Albert lost at home to last-place Brandon.
No. 2 star: Reid Boucher, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Boucher became the first CHLer to hit 60 goals with a hat trick in a wild 8-7 win at Saginaw in an important battle for playoff seeding. In the process, he erased the single-season franchise record previously held by Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos defenders will probably note that he compiled his 58 goals for Sarnia in 61 games in 2007-08, while Boucher took 63 games to break the record. But Boucher's run has been impressive in its own right, considering the New Jersey Devils prospect only scored 28 times last season and leads the CHL goal-scoring race by 13 this season.
By beating the eighth-place Spirit on Saturday, the Sting moved eight points ahead in the race to avoid the league-leading London Knights in the first round of the playoffs.
Boucher scored all three of his goals in a bizarre second period in which the Sting scored six times on nine shots. Two of Sarnia's goals came in the last 30 seconds of the period, and Boucher's 60th at the 19:52 mark but the Sting up 8-5 and chased Saginaw goalie Jake Paterson from the game. Paterson only faced 17 shots in 40 minutes and allowed all eight goals.
The Spirit rallied with two goals in the third on 19 shots, but couldn't pull even.
No. 3 star: Tyrell Goulbourne, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Though he's just 5-foot-11, Goulbourne is well-known for his willingness to go toe-to-toe physically with anyone in the WHL. What he's not well-known for is scoring goals.
In fact, the 18-year-old from Edmonton never had a multiple-goal effort in 148 previous WHL games until he lit the lamp four times Saturday in a 7-1 rout of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Goulbourne scored once in the first period, then twice more in the first 5:48 of the second to wrap up the hat trick. He got one more in the third to cap off a night he'll never forget.
The Rockets remained five points clear of the Kamloops Blazers for the B.C. Division lead heading into their meeting Sunday in Kamloops.
Saturday's potent notables: Sven Andrighetto had four assists in Rouyn-Noranda's 6-3 win over P.E.I. Nikita Kucherov chipped in with three points (2G-1A). ... Acadie-Bathurst beat Saint John 4-1 behind a two-goal effort from Patrik Zdrahal. Alex Fournier made 52 saves in defeat for the Sea Dogs. ... Alex Dubeau's 43 saves led Moncton to a 3-2 win over Quebec in front of 14,908 at Le Colisée. ... Val d'Or threw 52 shots at Halifax goalie Zachary Fucale, but Fucale turned aside 49 plus all three in the shootout as the Mooseheads won 4-3 for their 10th straight victory. ... Spencer Abraham scored twice, including the game-winner in OT, as Erie beat Windsor 5-4. Dane Fox also had two goals for the Otters. ... Niagara scored three goals in the last four minutes of regulation, but Belleville's Alan Quine scored with less than 5 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Niagara won 5-4 on Carter Verhaeghe's goal in the extra period, his second of the night. Brett Ritchie also scored twice for the IceDogs. ... Cody Ceci had two goals and two assists in Owen Sound's easy 6-1 win against Mississauga. ... Regina beat Moose Jaw 7-2 behind four points (1G-3A) from Morgan Klimchuk. Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention, however. ... Nick Buonassisi scored two first-period goals as Brandon upset Prince Albert 4-2. ... Kohl Bauml scored twice and Austin Lotz made 43 saves in Everett's unexpected 4-2 win over league-leading Portland. ... Justin Feser scored his 40th goal of the season and added two helpers in Tri-City's 5-3 win at Seattle.
Friday's better-late-than-never 3 stars:
No. 1 star: Vincent Trochek, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Trochek scored twice and added two assists as the Whalers whacked the host Erie Otters 7-2. The Pittsburgh native has 21 goals and 47 points in 22 games since being traded from Saginaw to Plymouth.
No. 2 star: Carter Popoff, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
It might not seem too notable that Popoff had two goals — including the overtime winner — and an assist in Vancouver's 5-4 win over Lethbridge, but Popoff isn't likely to ever forget Friday since he starred with Gordie Howe watching from the stands.
The Giants honoured Howe's 85th birthday with a pregame ceremony featuring ex-NHL stars like Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne, and wore special jerseys in tribute.
No. 3 star: Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
The Phoenix were outshot 45-22 by the high-powered Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, but Gervais-Chouinard stood tall with 43 saves and Sherbrooke skated away with a 5-2 upset win.