No. 1 star: Stefan Fournier, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Fournier (3G, +2) and the Mooseheads beat the Gatineau Olympiques 5-3 to finish a four-game sweep, but the pesky 'Piques offered some serious pushback. Gatineau didn't have many chances in the final 20 minutes, but it twice pulled within a goal.
The first time they got within one, it took the Mooseheads only 18 seconds for an immediate riposte with Nathan MacKinnon (2A, +2, 61% on faceoffs) beating a defender at the offensive blueline and feeding Fournier for the eventual game-winner and the Halifax captain's 11th goal in eight playoff games. It was a nice show of killer instinct.
"Psychologists have said it forever, winning becomes a habit," Fournier said. "We could be up a goal, we could be down a goal, they can score on us, but what's important is you don't get nervous and bounce right back. That's the difference between a good team and a great team."
Fournier, 20, who played for three teams before coming to Halifax to provide experience and around-the-net touch for his overage season, had eight goals during the series.
"The goals aside, I think I'm putting myself in the right places to make the best contribution I can to the team," The Dorval, Que., native said. "I'm ecstatic about how many goals I have, but it's really the style that I'm playing, being front of the net, creating chances, getting to rebounds. In playoffs it's a really tight game.
"It's a little bit surreal, I won't lie. I'm finally in the right place at the right time. It only took five years."
Fournier could face his younger brother, defenceman Dillion Fournier, if the Mooseheads face the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the only remaining second-round series. Rouyn-Noranda leads Quebec 3-1. The Mooseheads are likely to begin the semifinal on April 20.
Halifax's successive sweeps will likely spark talk of whether they can be the first team to go 16-0 in the playoffs. Mooseheads GM Cam Russell, coincidentally, was a rookie defenceman on the 1986 Hull Olympiques, who ran the the table by going 15-0 while winning three best-of-9 rounds.
No. 2 star: Gabriel Desjardins, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
The Huskies captain helped the northern upstarts push the big-city Quebec Remparts, his former team, to the brink of elimination. Desjardins (2G-1A, +1) set up Marcus Power for the winner 2:49 into the sudden-victory session to give Rouyn-Noranda a 5-4 win and a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 in home ice on Friday.
Desjardins, who has six points (5G-1A) in the series' first four games, scored a pair of game-tying tallies during the first two periods. The overage scored early in the first to erase an early Remparts lead and keep the Huskies and their fans engaged in the contest. Desjardins also tallied in the second, while Liam O'Brien scored a third-period tying goal.
No. 3 star: Kale Kessy, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Kessy, the recent Edmonton Oilers signing, sent Kamloops into delirium and its first conference final in 14 years, tipping a shot home 2:24 into overtime for a 4-3 Blazers win and 4-0 sweep of the Kelowna Rockets.
The winner came after the hard-luck Rockets, who hung on through 60 minutes despite a slew of injuries, put the Blazers on the power play for the 11th time on the night after Madison Bowey flipped the puck out of play. Kessy (2G, -3) found an opening to the side of the net to tip in a shot by St. Louis Blues prospect Joel Edmundson. Not only does the win put the Blazers in the Western Conference final against the Portland Winterhawks, but it also marks the first time since 1996 tha the franchise clinched a series on home ice.
The rugged Kessy, who had 21 goals in 60 regular-season games, has 11 in 10 during the post-season. It's a safe bet few expected the Shaunavon, Sask., native to be tied for first in the Dub in playoff goals.
Kelowna's injuries were the series' main stories. Kamloops also lost No. 1 centre Colin Smith early in the round and played the entire series without Montreal Canadiens third-rounder Tim Bozon (hand injury).
Honourable mention: Henrik Samuelsson, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The likes of Samuelsson (2G-1A, +3) and Dylan Wruck (3A, +2) helped Edmonton push past the Medicine Hat Tigers with three goals in the back half of the third period for a 4-2 win and four-game series sweep. The Phoenix Coyotes first-round choice had the first apple on Edmonton's lone goal of the first 2½ periods. Not wanting to give Medicine Hat an opening, the Oil Kings upped the tempo in the third. Samuelsson got stopped by overage goalie Cam Lanigan (38 saves in his final WHL game) on a breakaway, but came back to snap in the tying goal with 7:20 left. That buckled the Tigers, as Wruck set up New York Islanders first-rounder Griffin Reinhart for the game-winner 39 seconds later. Samuelsson also got the empty-netter with 65 seconds left.
Potent notables — Kelowna's 17-year-year-old forward Tyson Baillie (1G-1A, +3) finished with 14 points in nine post-season games. St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie scored his 11th goal during Portland's sweep-securing 5-0 shutout in Spokane. Top NHL draft prospect Seth Jones had two assists for Portland ... In the OHL, San Jose Sharks pick Chris Tierney scored his second overtime winner of the playoffs to lift London to a 4-3 win over Kitchener and a 3-1 series lead. Florida Panthers prospect Vince Trocheck scored his league-best ninth goal, but Plymouth lost 4-3 at Owen Sound to fall into a 2-2 series tie ... In the QMJHL, Tommy Giroux (1G-1A, +1) helped Blainville-Boisbriand win 2-1 at Val'd-Or to complete a four-game sweep. B-B will face the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who won 2-1 at Victoriaville to finish off the Tigres in four in a row. Overage Carl Gélinas (1G-1A) factored into both Drakkar goals.
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.