February 02, 2014
No. 1 star: Brandon Hope, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
In his fourth OHL season, Hope is finally getting the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie, and the 19-year-old engineered the finest performance of his career Saturday, stopping 50 shots in a 2-1 victory over Erie, the third-ranked team in the CHL.
Hope turned away all 21 shots he faced in the first period, then allowed a Dane Fox power-play goal (Fox's 53rd of the season) on 11 shots in the second. Another 19 saves in the third period made a one-goal lead stand up, and the Attack earned a much-needed win after enduring a recent tailspin.
Thomas Schemitsch and Holden Cook scored for Owen Sound, which put just 25 shots on Otters goalie Oscar Dansk.
No. 2 star: Myles Bell, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Kelowna has risen to the top of the CHL rankings this season with tremendous offensive balance, as the Rockets haven't had a player in the top 20 in the league in scoring for much of the season.
They do now, thanks to a career night for Bell, who erupted for four goals and two assists in the Rockets' 7-3 home win over Kamloops in the back end of a home-and-home series. Bell, a one-time defenceman who converted to forward last season, had never even registered a WHL hat trick prior to Saturday.
Bell also had two goals and an assist on Friday, giving him nine points in two games against the rival Blazers over the weekend. With the explosion, Bell has risen to 13th in the league in points with 61 in 50 games, and his 35 goals rank him third in the league behind Spokane's Mitch Holmberg and Portland's Oliver Bjorkstrand.
No. 3 star: Anthony Chapados, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Sure, the Oceanic lost 6-4 to Shawinigan on Saturday night, but Rimouski native Chapados had a night he'll never forget in his hometown.
Chapados came into the game with two goals in 39 QMJHL games, but scored three times and added an assist Saturday. Even if he's held scoreless for the next 27 days, this will be the highest-scoring month of his career.
He was the bright spot in an otherwise dismal night for Rimouski, which fell to the last-place Cataractes, who have pulled within two points of Sherbrooke for the final playoff spot.
Honourable mention: Matt Murray, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Murray made 38 saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win in Sudbury. The Pittsburgh Penguins draftee is now tied for the league lead in wins with 27, and Saturday's victory pulled Soo within five points of Erie for the top spot in the OHL.
Honourable mention: François Tremblay, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Since Tremblay came to Victoriaville from Val-d'Or via trade in early January, the the Tigres have been on fire. Victoriaville won its 10th straight game Saturday, beating Acadie-Bathurst 5-0 behind 28 saves by Tremblay.
The St. Louis Blues prospect is 10-1 with a .929 save percentage with the Tigres after posting an .890 save percentage in 23 games with Val-d'Or this season.
Honourable mention: Taran Kozun, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Sticking with the goalie theme, we go out west where Kozun came up on the short end of a 3-0 decision to the Portland Winterhawks, but put together yet another stellar performance between the pipes.
Kozun stopped 46 of 49 shots to keep the T-Birds in the game, as they spent nearly a third of the game killing penalties. Despite only getting 16 shots on Portland goalie Brendan Burke, who earned his second straight shutout, Seattle was still in the game well into the third period.
Kozun lost for the first time in eight starts since being acquired from Kamloops, and has a .953 save percentage with Seattle.
Special mention for scoring the weirdest goal of the year: Chris Driedger, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Driedger's Hitmen lost 5-2 to Kootenay on Saturday, but he became just the sixth goaltender in WHL history to be credited with a goal. Driedger was the last Calgary player to touch the puck shortly before the Ice scored into their own empty net after Mackenzie Skapski went to the bench for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty call.
It led to one of the strangest lines on a box score you'll ever see:
1. CAL C. Driedger, (1) , 5:45 (EN)
Yes, it's the ol' empty netter by a goalie less than six minutes into the game.
Scott Sepich is a contributor to Buzzing the Net. Follow him on Twitter: @SSepich.