No. 1 star: Derek Mathers, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Mathers (2G-2A, +4) led by word and deed as Peterborough ran off six goals in a row to beat the rival Oshawa Generals 6-3 and pull within two points of the final playoff berth. The Stephen Pierog-Nick Ritchie-Mathers line was omnipresent in the second and third periods when the Petes took over the game after falling behind 2-0. Pierog (1G-2A, +4), who was named first star at the Peterborough Memorial Centre, broke the ice for Peterborough in the second period when he followed his own high-and-wide shot and golfed the puck home. Mathers, a Philadelphia Flyers sixth-rounder, made a brilliant feed to Ritchie (2G, +2) to wipe out the Generals' lead. Mathers' first goal of the night chased Carolina Hurricanes-drafted goalie Dan Altshuller from the game and put the Petes ahead to stay.
"We've been struggling with the first periods and I think the whole team knew that, " Mathers told TV Cogeco Ontario. "After we talked a bit, we came out and showed what we could do in the last two periods ... now we have to look at it [the playoff race] like a playoff series, we probably have to win six of the last 11 to get in the playoffs."
Peterborough pulled away in the third shortly after 19-year-old goalie Andrew D'Agostini thwarted a 2-on-1 Generals rush. Ritchie scored off a Pierog setup and Mathers tacked on his career-high fourth point with 'that would be a goal in any league' howitzer by backup goalie Ken Appleby
No. 2 star: Nick Cousins, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Cousins (3G-1A, +2) did what Cousins does: put up numbers and make several dentists' fortunes by making the other teams' fans grind their jaws. The Ontario league's scoring leader got in range to possibly reach the 100-point milestone on Friday against league-leading London after helping the 'Hounds double up the Sarnia Sting 6-3.
The Belleville, Ont., native opened the scoring with a redirect goal in the first period before getting the backbreaker with a goal in the last minute of the second period that opened a 3-1 'Hounds lead. The broke whatever confidence the slumping Sting had, as the 'Hounds pulled away with Cousins completing the hat trick and playing to the crowd.
Nick Cousins scores his 3rd of the game and 4th point. He takes his glove off and salutes the crowd on the 6-2 goal. Typical Cousins
— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) February 22, 2013
With 97 points, Cousins is seven points ahead of the Sting's Charlie Sarault for the scoring title. Florida Panthers prospect Vincent Trocheck is 10 back with 87. The centre also reached 100 career goals in the course of the evening.
The biggest barrier to Cousins hittin' a hundred on Friday is fellow Flyers pick Anthony Stolarz, who is slated to start in goal for the Knights.
No. 3 star: Louick Marcotte, P.E.I. Rocket (QMJHL)
Marcotte (2G-1A, +3) took first-star honours as the Rocket got a balanced effort during its high-scoring 7-5 home win over the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Marcotte and fellow veteran 20-goal man Victor Provencher teamed up on a first-minute goal in the second period that spurred P.E.I. to a dominant 20 minutes. Marcotte, who's from Longueuil, Que., converted a setup from draft-year forward Yan Pavel Laplante midway through the period before scoring again to put P.E.I. up 6-2.
That gave the Rocket just enough of a cushion to withstand a third-period Volts rally. Marcotte, 19, has 22 goals and 43 points with 11 regular-season games to play, nearly double his totals from last season.
Honourable mention: Graeme Brown, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The 16-year-old rookie D-man made some memories during Windsor's 8-5 win over the Erie Otters, getting his first point and goal 1:55 apart during the third period. Brown drew an assist when New Jersey Devils prospect Ben Johnson (2G, +1) scored on a weak wrist shot to level the game 4-4. On his next shift, the Gananoque, Ont., native who has spent most of the season with the Junior B Lasalle Vipers scored to put the Spitfires ahead for good.
Eighteen-year-old NHL draft prospect Kerby Rychel had a five-point night (1G-4A) for the Spitfires.
Potent notables — Mark Scheifele scored both Barrie Colts in their 3-2 loss to rival Owen Sound, giving the Winnipeg Jets prospect 32 goals in 38 OHL games ... New Jersey Devils prospect Reid Boucher scored twice for Sarnia to reach 53 goals, five away from from Steven Stamkos' single-season team record ... Brett Foy (1G-2A, +4), Riley Brace (2G-1A, +3), Kristoff Kontos (2G-1A, +3) each had three points to help the Mississauga Steelheads reel in Niagara 8-2, moving within one point of the sixth-place IceDogs in the Eastern Conference. Carolina Hurricanes-drafted Steelheads defenceman Trevor Carrick was plus-5.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.