3/30 Recap: Amerks defeat(!) B-Sens

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, March 30, 2008 | 3/30/2008

OK, I think I have it straight now! Mark Mancari scored a power-play goal and added a helper in Rochester's 3-2 shootout win over Binghamton. The goal was just his second in his last 22 games, and his two points tie him with Marc-Andre Gragnani for the team lead in points (50). Gragnani and Clarke MacArthur scored in the shootout to deliver the win, while Adam Dennis got the win for Rochester. Mancari - goal, assist, -2 Hunter - assist, 4 SOG, 12 PIM, -2 MacArthur - assist, -2 Whitmore - 1 SOG Zagrapan -1 Gragnani -2 Dennis - 33 saves In the USHL, Drew MacKenzie registered two shots on goal as Waterloo dominated Sioux Falls, 7-2.
3/30/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

Gerbe, Orpik headed for Spring Freeze

In Worcester, Nathan Gerbe scored his 30th goal of the season as Boston College advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four with a 4-3 overtime win over Miami. The speedy wing notched the middle tally in BC's three-goal barrage in 1:58 late in the 2nd period to take a 3-2 lead before 5'6 forward Joe Whitney ended the game in OT for BC. 2005 pick Andrew Orpik manned his usual spot with Matt Lombardi and Kyle Kucharski in the Eagles win.
3/30/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Buravchikov bounced; Gogulla, Schiestel get dates

A 4-3 winner today over Iserlohn, the Frankfurt Lions move on to face Philip Gogulla and Cologne in the DEL semis starting on Tuesday. Cologne vs. Frankfurt 1. FRA at COL, 4/1 2. COL at FRA, 4/3 3. FRA at COL, 4/6 *4. COL at FRA, 4/8 *5. FRA at COL, 4/10 Drew Schiestel and Niagara will face Oshawa in round two of the OHL playoffs. The series schedule has been released: OSHAWA vs. NIAGARA Game 1 - Thu Apr 3 7:05 PM Niagara at Oshawa Game 2 - Sat Apr 5 7:05 PM Oshawa at Niagara Game 3 - Sun Apr 6 6:05 PM Niagara at Oshawa Game 4 - Tue Apr 8 7:30 PM Oshawa at Niagara Game 5 - Fri Apr 11 7:35 PM * Niagara at Oshawa Game 6 - Sun Apr 13 2:00 PM * Oshawa at Niagara Game 7 - Mon Apr 14 7:05 PM * Niagara at Oshawa In game four of the RSL semifinals, Vjacheslav Buravchikov and Ak Bars fell in overtime to Salavat Yulaev Ufa, 4-3. The loss bounces Kazan out of the playoffs. Salavat moves on to face Yaroslavl for the league crown.
3/30/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

A little Cedar Valley love for MacKenzie

Be sure to check out this article on Vermont-bound Drew MacKenzie from Thursday's Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
Waterloo didn't need a flashy forward. The Black Hawks already were set at that position with Billy Maday, Brett Olson and Brock Montpetit in the fold. Waterloo needed defensemen. The best guy available, in Waterloo's mind, was MacKenzie. "It's like picking an offensive tackle in the first round of the NFL draft," Black Hawks assistant coach and chief scout Shane Fukushima said. "A good offensive tackle is the one who protects the quarterback's weak side and are hard to come by. "Drew MacKenzie is like a good offensive tackle ... he protects our goalies. It wasn't a flashy or sexy pick, but it was the right pick for the Waterloo Black Hawks."
And continued....
MacKenzie arrived in Waterloo sight unseen. But his impact has been felt throughout the league. The New Caanan, Conn. native has thrown his body around behind the Black Hawks' net and hasn't been afraid to mix it up. "We knew he was a good player and that, obviously, is why our team took him No. 1," said fellow blueliner Blake Kessel. "He brings a physical presence out there on the ice day in, day out along with the skill to make the first pass and make plays at the blueline."
MacKenzie, 19, made what appears to be a very wise decision to play a season of Junior "A" before heading to Hockey East. Aside from Mike Weber, the Sabres aren't teeming with physical, stay-at-home defensemen. MacKenzie has good feet to his 6'2, 200-pound frame, and a few sound developmental years with the Catamounts could bode well for the Sabres system, and see him emerge and a late-round sleeper. In 53 games with the Hawks, MacKenzie has gone 3-13-16 with a +6 and 103 PIM.
3/30/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/29 Recap: New foursome booked; Gerbe, Gragnani, groovin'

At the NCAA Northeast regional, Nathan Gerbe scored a goal and an assist as Boston College dominated Minnesota, 5-2. While on a first period power play, one of Gerbe's game-best seven shots was directed out to Ben Smith to set-up the first Eagles goal. The 5'5 winger later sealed the game with an empty netter. Andrew Orpik, again playing at the center spot, went pointless for BC. National runners-up the past two seasons, the Eagles will look to punch their ticket to Denver when they play Miami tomorrow. As one USHL product (Gerbe/Omaha) carries on in the tourney, the end of the road came for three others. In Colorado Springs, Michigan State forward Tim Kennedy (Sioux City) assisted on the only Spartan goal in their 3-1 loss to upstart Notre Dame. Kennedy finishes his junior year as the Spartans leading scorer (20-23-43), tied for 16th in the NCAA, and has scored 104 points through his three seasons in E. Lansing. LW Corey Tropp (Sioux Falls) posted two shots and a team-low -2 to close out his freshman campaign with 17 points. With graduation and the possible early departures by Kennedy and Justin Abdelkader (DET), he could enter the fall as the fifth-leading scorer among returning players. Defenseman Chris Butler (Sioux City) saw his junior season come to an end as Denver got housed by Wisconsin, 6-2. Also playing in what is likely his final collegiate game, Butler was -2 with three shots on goal. The Midwest regional loss was the first ever NCAA tournament game for the 2005 fourth rounder. Joining the three collegians in the bag line this week is Baie-Comeau C Benjamin Breault, who went pointless in the Drakkar's 5-2 loss to Rimouski. The Pembroke, Ontario native carved out three assists while the opposing Oceanic easily polished off one of the QMJHL's strongest regular season clubs, four games to one. In current USHL action, D Drew MacKenzie followed his best statistical game of the season (1-1-2) with two shots on goal in Waterloo's 3-1 win over first-place Indiana. With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Black Hawks look poised for a deep playoff run. They are 12-3 in their last 15, and currently hold the league's third-best record. AHL rookie Marc-Andre Gragnani scored a pair of goals as the Amerks won their second straight in a 5-2 defeat of Grand Rapids. Playing defense, Gragnani's shorthanded and power-play goals give the 6'1, 197-pounder a team-best 50 points. He has scored ten points in his last seven games, and 15 in the 12 games since returning from his two-game NHL stint. Dylan Hunter added an assist for Rochester in the win. The Rundown: Gragnani - two goals, +1, 5 SOG Hunter - assist MacArthur - +1 Mancari - 0-0-0 0 0 Zagrapan - 3 SOG, -2 Funk - out Whitmore - DNP Kostka - DNP
3/30/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Persson looking for a home

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, March 29, 2008 | 3/29/2008

Swedish news outlet HockeySverige is reporting that Dennis Persson (2006, 24th overall) is looking for a new SEL team after Djurgardens announced plans to not bring the defenseman back in 2008-09. The 6'1, 187-pound Persson saw limited time in 21 games with Djurgardens before being loaned to Nykoping of second league, HockeyAllsvenskan. Persson, 19, has had a rough go since leaving Sweden's Vasteras program two years ago. The patient prospector may suggest that the Sabres throw the kid a life preserver and bolster his confidence with an entry deal, while the skeptics are ready to cut him loose and reap the second round compensatory pick for not being able to sign the former first rounder. With Persson's recent circumstances in mind, coupled with the fact that his size and skill are still being realized, and even the Sabres' developmental history with a guy like Henrik Tallinder (he played four European seasons before making his way over to North America), the thought that Sabres GM Darcy Regier will extend Persson's status as a Buffalo property past the June 1st signing deadline is a reasonable one.
3/29/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/28 Recap: Kennedy clicks; Allard goes hard

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, March 28, 2008 | 3/28/2008

Tim Kennedy scored a power play goal and added an assist as Michigan State opened the NCAA tourney with a 3-1 win over Colorado College. The defending champion Spartans got on the board when a dangling Kennedy scooped up a loose puck, and calmly slid it to his backhand past CC netminder Richard Bachman. Freshman forward Corey Tropp went pointless while moving to the left side on State's third-line with Dustin Gazley and Nick Sucharski. The Spartans advance to face Notre Dame, who earlier posted an upset win over #1 seed New Hampshire. In the USHL, Vermont recruit Drew MacKenzie scored the game-winning goal and later notched an assist in Waterloo's 3-0 defeat of Sioux Falls. The two-point night was the first multi-point output of the season for the Connecticut-born defenseman. J.S. Allard had a goal and an assist as St. John's was overpowered by Acadie-Bathurst, 7-2. Acadie-Bathurst now leads the series three games to two, and will look to put a nail in the final Foggies season on Monday. Currently the eighth-best scorer in the Q playoffs, Allard has four goals and six assists, and is +9 in the series. T.J. Brennan went scoreless for St. John's, failing to add to the two goals and four assists he had compiled in the previous four. His -3 on the evening lowers him to team-worst -7 in the playoffs. Paul Byron had an assist as Gatineau overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat Shawinigan, 5-2, and close out their first round series four games to one. In the five games, the 5'10 center posted a goal and four assists for les Olympiques. On Thursday, Benjamin Breault had an assist in Baie-Comeau's 3-1 loss to Rimouski. The assist was Breault's third point of the playoff year. After finishing 2nd overall in the Q regular season, the Drakkar trail the Oceanic 3-1 in the best-of-seven, and will look to extend their season another day when the two clubs meet on Saturday. Drew Schiestel had three assists in Niagara's first round sweep of Mississauga-St.Michael's. The 2007 second-rounder was also a +5 in the series' four games, as the Dogs advance to face '09 stud John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals. Philip Gogulla went pointless as Cologne closed out their 4-1 series win over Mannheim on Wednesday. The German winger had one goal, a game winner, and two assists in the five games. The Sharks now await the winner of a game seven match-up between Iserlohn and Frankfurt. Ak Bars D Vjacheslav Buravchikov has skated without a point in three RSL semifinal contests against Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Ak Bars currently trail the series two games to one. In the AHL, Dylan Hunter scored a goal and an assist in Rochester's 5-4 shootout win over Manitoba. Clarke MacArthur, Marek Zagrapan, Mike Funk, and Marc-Andre Gragnani also added assist for Rochester. Gragnani's helper was his 48th point of the season, locking him in a tie with Mark Mancari atop the Amerks scoring list. Derek Whitmore was -1 with 2 PIM in his professional debut with the Amerks. The Rundown: Hunter - goal, assist, -1 Zagrapan - assist, +1 Funk - assist Gragnani - assist, -1 MacArthur - assist -2 Whitmore - 1 SOG, -1 Mancari - 1 SOG, -1 Kostka - DNP On Wednesday, the Amerks lost to the same Manitoba squad by a 4-1 score. Marek Zagrapan assisted on the only Rochester goal, while Mike Kostka was +1 in his first game after signing with the Sabres on Wednesday. Adam Dennis made 32 saves in the loss.
3/28/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Returning Tonight!

Sorry for the lack of content this week. SabresProspects will be returning this evening, playing catch-up while offering accounts of Friday's action on the ice.
3/28/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres sign Kostka, Whitmore

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | 3/26/2008

Sorry for the lame update, but things are pretty hectic. Sabres sign defenseman Kostka
The Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday signed free-agent defenseman Mike Kostka, who just finished his senior season at the University of Massachusetts. Kostka, 22, was named to the Hockey East second team after scoring a career-high nine goals for the Minutemen. The Ontario native completed his collegiate career with 15 tallies and 38 assists in 143 games.
Sabres sign former Bowling Green forward Whitmore
Forward Derek Whitmore signed a two-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday after completing his four-year career at Bowling Green. An undrafted free agent, Whitmore had a career-high 27 goals and added 10 assists in 38 games as a senior, A native of Rochester, he finished his NCAA career with 103 points (70 goals, 33 assists) in 143 games.
They couldn't sign these guys before the Top 20 was figured?
3/26/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

Sabres Prospects Top 20 Rankings - Spring 2008

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, March 24, 2008 | 3/24/2008

It's late March, and the birds outside are whistling "Sabre Dance". This usually means one thing - that it's again time to rank the current crop of Buffalo Sabres prospects. With the deck being shuffled with another season of play, the Spring 2008 edition of the Sabres Prospect Rankings features some fresh faces at the top, while familiar names like Clarke MacArthur, Andrej Sekera, and Patrick Kaleta are no longer being ranked. MacArthur has played a total a 56 NHL games, and with his roots going all the way back to the 2003 draft, the soon-to-be 23 year old has graduated from the rankings exercise. Along similar lines, Sekera, a potential top-pair defender, and bottom-line agitator Kaleta have seemingly graduated to full-time status with Buffalo. The Top 20 isn't a points competition, nor is it a measuring stick to see who's the closest to playing in the NHL. The list is constructed by slotting players by their overall potential impact, then moving them up and down based on their long range likelihood of reaching it. Inside of 100 days until the 2008 NHL draft, the list is designed to serve as a needs assessment when building the Sabres selection strategy. The current top 20 features two goaltenders, eight defensemen, and ten forwards. Here's the list at a glance: 1 - Jhonas Enroth 2 - Nathan Gerbe 3 - Chris Butler 4 - Philip Gogulla 5 - Marc-Andre Gragnani 6 - T.J. Brennan 7 - Mike Weber 8 - Tim Kennedy 9 - Drew Schiestel 10 - Marek Zagrapan 11 - Dennis Persson 12 - Paul Byron 13 - Corey Tropp 14 - Brad Eidsness 15 - Jean-Simon Allard 16 - Benjamin Breault 17 - Mike Funk 18 - Felix Schutz 19 - Alex Biega 20 - Vjacheslav Buravchikov 1) Jhonas Enroth, G, Sodertalje (SEL), 2006 2nd round (46th overall) The 19-year old Enroth recently capped a strong rookie year in Elitserien that supports his status as a future NHL starter. Manning the pipes for a SSK club in its first season back in the top league, the agile netminder lead all regular starters with a 2.13 GAA and .932 save percentage while fending off SEL vet Bjorn Bjurling for total crease autonomy. The Stockholm native also pitched two shutouts in his 27 appearances. Sandwiched in between the SEL action was the World Junior Championships, where Enroth backstopped Team Sweden to a silver medal after an exciting overtime loss to Canada in the finals. His tourney numbers (2.33 GAA, .905 sv%) weren't as strong as his SEL numbers, yet did not nothing to disprove the notion that he can be a prime time professional in North America. With SSK failing to qualify for the playoffs, it is believed that the Sabres are talking contract with Enroth's camp. Jocelyn Thibault has been a sub-par backup, and Adam Dennis isn't quite ready for NHL pucks. It all adds up to Enroth offering a competitive nudge to Ryan Miller as the incumbent enters the final year of his deal. 2) Nathan Gerbe, LW, Boston College (Hockey East), 2006 5th round (142nd overall) The diminutive left wing continued to do what he has always done throughout his hockey career - erase doubts about his size by dominating the opposition with explosive skating and offense. The Oxford, MI native piled up 57 points this season for Boston College, including a sensational, Hobey-propelling stretch in December and January than saw him churn out 27 points in nine games. Entering the NCAA Tournament, Gerbe leads the nation in points, and is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Some suggest his Hobey aspirations were tarnished when he was suspended for a butt-end earlier in the season. Whatever the case, Gerbe has accomplished loads this season while being the main focus of opposing checkers. He was the national leader in shots on goal, and a productive third-best in even-strength goals. Gerbe stands 5'5, but plays with enough heart, attitude, and skill to suggest that size doesn't matter. One might even argue that his smaller frame makes him harder to catch. As he moves up a level in talent and gains more space, expect the shifty forward to continue shedding detractors like has has Hockey East defenders the past few seasons. 3) Chris Butler, D, Denver (WCHA), 2005 4th round (96th overall) An excellent, all-situations defenseman, the 6'1, 190-pound junior anchored the back end for a Pioneers squad that iced only eight upperclassmen for most of the year. His solid season wearing an "A" was rewarded as the St. Louis native was named to the All-WCHA second Team. Entering college with the tag "offensive-minded", Butler has indeed been an effective puck mover while leading all Pio defenders in points the past two seasons. With all that in mind, his defensive work ethic has emerged as perhaps his best attribute. Butler has lead the team in blocked shots over the same span, all the while dictating an edgier physical game. Butler notched 49 points over his first two collegiate seasons, but increased leadership responsibilities in his own end have contributed to a decline in offensive production this season (3-14-17). He's the consummate team guy, and his consistent brand of hockey makes him a virtual lock to forego his senior NCAA season to instead head to his first NHL training camp in the fall. 4) Philip Gogulla, LW, Kolner Haie (DEL), 2005 2nd round (48th overall) Signing with Buffalo in June yet electing to head back to Europe, the 6'2, 198-pound wing asserted himself as a main cog in the Kolner Haie offense this season. He was the team's third-leading scorer, more than doubling his previous season's 21 point output, with 11 goals and 44 total points. In International action, he had three assists in three games for Germany in the Skoda Cup against Swiss, French, and Slovakian entries. The Dusseldorf native gets the puck deep, and has good control on the boards. Many of his points are assists generated from sheer effort. It's unclear at this time whether or not he'll move to North America in the second of his three-year deal, but his steady, three-year ramp-up in the DEL is indicative of a player ready to make the jump. 5) Marc-Andre Gragnani, LW, Rochester (AHL), 2005 3rd round (87th overall) The Gragnani blueline experiment that began back in the QMJHL is officially over. Drafted as an offensive defenseman, Gragnani moved to left wing midway through his first pro season and quickly ascended the ranks of developing Sabres forwards. The Montreal native has scored 11 goals and 34 assists with Rochester while still seeing time at the point on the power play.. Lacking the defensive strength necessary to handle aggressive AHL forwards, Gragnani soon abandoned his spot as the league's worst plus/minus rating once he switched positions. His talent and vision are well-served up front, as Gragnani quickly leapfrogged the team's leading scorer, Mark Mancari, to earn a brief February look with Buffalo. In two games, he revealed very little as a -2 with 4 PIM. With consistent hustle and better familiarity with the Sabres' system, Gragnani's skill set has the makings of a creative, middle-line forward. 6) T.J. Brennan, D, St. John's (QMJHL), 2007 2nd round (31st overall) The 6'0, 200-pound defenseman used a late-season surge to identically match his 16-25-41 stat line of a year ago with St. John's (QMJHL). Brennan carries the puck with energy, and often opts out of his defensive posture to go hard at the net. On the back end, he plays a physical game with an increased sense of defensive awareness. The New Jersey native closed well, scoring six goals and running up a +6 in the final eleven games. At one point a lowly -23, Brennan dug himself out to finish the regular season -15. Brennan has been very effective on the Fog Devils power play, using a well-controlled shot assortment to score nine of his 16 goals. For his efforts, he was twice rewarded with QMJHL Defensive Player of the Week honors, and should be a top-five defenseman in the league when the franchise moves to Montreal in 2008-09. 7) Mike Weber, D, Buffalo/Rochester (NHL/AHL), 2006 2nd round (57th overall) The first-year pro emerged as one of the few bright spots of a forgettable Rochester season before going up to Buffalo in March. A rugged defender who makes the simple play, Weber flexed his leadership muscle immediately at the AHL level by jumping out to the team lead in plus/minus and penalty minutes through January. He's proven effective during his two Buffalo call-ups, handling the game speed while racking up +12 in nine NHL games. His first NHL point, an assist, came on 3/12 in his hometown of Pittsburgh when he flicked a simple wrist shot at the Penguins net. The difference between Weber 'the pro' and Weber the 'OHL junior' is his improved footwork. When he keeps them moving, he's a rock in his own end. Weber projects to be a 4-5-6 guy at the NHL level, and is currently ahead of the curve in terms of reaching that potential. 8) Tim Kennedy, LW, Michigan State (CCHA), 2005 6th round (181st overall by Washington) The crafty Kennedy has been a point-per-game fixture on the left side of Michigan State's top line all-season long. After failing to hit the score sheet in the first two skates of 2007-08, the Bishop Timon (NYHS) product uncorked 13 goals and eight assists over his next 16 games to vault into the national scoring race. The well ran a little dry after his torrid run, as the junior went 13 games (12 in conference) without scoring a goal. His drought ended with a flood though, as the Buffalo native started clicking with C Justin Abdelkader (DET), notching a goal in six of seven games heading into NCAA tourney action. To date, he leads the Spartans with 40 points, three short-handed goals, and a +15 rating. Kennedy does his best work around the net with accurate shooting and passing skills. He projects out to a middle line contributor, and will need to execute with strength and speed to compete with players of equal skill at the professional level. 9) Drew Schiestel, D, Niagara (OHL), 2007 2nd round (59th overall) The steady Icedogs defenseman shook off a bumpy start to put together an impressive season with Niagara of the OHL. A quiet puck mover who gets the job done, Schiestel took control of his game in November and didn't look back. Rated a team-low -6 through November 1st, the Hamilton native ran up a +20 over the following four-plus months, paving the way for career offensive totals (8-29-37) in the process. He was one of only two IceDogs to play in all 68 regular season games. At 6'2, 190 pounds, Schiestel already has the strength and skating ability to suggest he'll be a bona fide NHL defenseman. He passes well, likes to start the rush, and effectively uses his long reach to keep his zone clean. Another season of steady OHL play makes his signing with Buffalo a no-brainer one year from now. 10) Marek Zagrapan, C, Rochester (AHL), 2005 1st round (13th overall) In his second professional season with Rochester, the Slovakian pivot continues to show flashes of the player the Sabres were hoping for when tabbing him with the 13th pick in 2005. Offensively skilled with a good burst, Zagrapan scored a goal and flipped a nice assist to Philip Gogulla in the Sabres preseason before being sent down to Rochester to start the year. At one point the Amerks leading goal-getter, the QMJHL product has lit the lamp 16 times in 65 games this season. He displayed his best hockey during a 19-game stretch in December and January when he scored 16 of his 33 total points to date. His scoring has since tapered though, with just six points in the following 30 games. Zagrapan was pegged as a forward in need of developmental patience, and the lack of veteran leadership with the Amerks this season underlies what could easily be perceived as a flat year for the former first-rounder. Still only 21 years of age, achieving consistency in both ends will go a long way towards Zagrapan elevating his game and getting a serious look from the Sabres brass. 11) Dennis Persson, D, Nykoping (HockeyAllsvenskan) 2006 1st round (24th overall) Persson started the season as a fringe player with Djurgardens of Elitserien, registering a point while seeing limited minutes in 21 games. With former NHLer Ossi Vaananen joining an already-crowded Djurgarden blue line, Persson moved down a level to HockeyAllsvenskan, skating with brother Robin for hometown club, Nykoping. Manning the second pair, the 6'1, 187-pound Persson started to spread his wings from the backend, posting one goal, three assists, and 14 PIM in 21 games. Persson, 19, hasn't had the best of luck since leaving the Vasteras program two years ago. Ice time has been hard to earn, minor injuries have been battled, and he was left off Sweden's entry in the 2008 World Juniors. A mobile rearguard who makes simple plays, the left-hander still has middle pair potential. He'll need to be signed this summer, and it's possible the Sabres retain his rights and keep him overseas for another season while they sort out their AHL affiliation agreement. 12) Paul Byron, C, Gatineau (QMJHL), 2007 6th round (179th overall) The dazzling Gatineau center has displayed equal parts skill and heart in the 2007-08 QMJHL season. Despite missing 18 games due to wrist and thigh injuries, the Ottawa native completed the regular season with 37 goals and 68 points in 52 games. An excellent finisher, Byron's .71 goals-per-game ranked second overall, while his 21.8 shooting percentage was seventh among the top-100 QMJHL scorers. The great thing about Byron's goal total is that 30 of his 37 markers came at even strength. Byron is speedy in transition, using an extra gear to find seams on the ice. With the up-tempo style, his 5'10, 140-pound frame often initiates contact with and without the puck. In fact, his thigh injury reportedly stemmed from a charley horse earned while delivering one of his 50 hits. He doesn't shy away from stepping in front of shots either, which further accentuates a workmanlike mentality. Byron has been a benefactor of playing roughly 30% of his games with touted prospect Claude Giroux (PHI), but he's clearly earned his own stripes all season long. He'll be counted on to be a go-to guy for Les Olympiques in 2008-09, a season that should tell a more compelling story of what are perhaps the best set of hands in the Sabres prospect stable. 13) Corey Tropp, RW, Michigan State (CCHA), 2007 3rd round (89th overall) The product of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede arrived at Michigan State this past fall, immediately displaying his touch around the net in early practice sessions. Coming off a 62-point junior campaign, Tropp began his freshman year at right wing with seniors Bryan Lerg and Chris Mueller, eventually spending time with the other set of Spartan guns, Tim Kennedy and Justin Abdelkader, at various points throughout the year. A frequent flyer in coach Rick Comley's line juggling routine, the 6'0, 185-pounder finished his collegiate entrance with six goals and 11 assists. Tropp is as gifted a passer as he is a finisher, making him a player with scoring line potential. He's projected to be a forward on the rise once he gains more strength and experience with another year of CCHA action. 14) Brad Eidsness, G, Okotoks (AJHL), 2007 5th round (139th overall) The Chestermere, AL native capitalized on his opportunities in 2007-08, leading all AJHL goaltenders in wins (29) and save percentage (.933), while missing the triple crown by .01 in the GAA category (2.12). Manning the pipes in just four regulation losses, Eidsness helped propel a deep Okotoks team into the AJHL playoffs, where a second-round goal shortage resulted in defeat at the hands of upset-minded Drumheller. The dominant season is appreciated even more when considering a two-week spat with mononucleosis that reared its ugly head at the onset of training camp. Standing 5'11, Eidsness uses supreme reflexes to play a tight butterfly style in the crease. His glove is quick, and like fellow Sabres prospect Jhonas Enroth, he has a penchant for the big save. With a World Jr. "A" Challenge gold medal, league MVP award, and dominating junior numbers in tow, Eidsness will enter the wild WCHA next season as he continues his development with a six-digit scholarship to the University of North Dakota. Chosen 139th in 2007, Eidsness marks the second time this decade that the Sabres used a fifth-round pick on a Junior "A" goalie on his way to the college game. Back in 1999, Ryan Miller was chosen 138th overall out of the NAHL. 15) Jean-Simon Allard, C, St. John's (QMJHL), 2007 5th round (147th overall) The 6'3, 192-pound center started the year strong for St. John's of the QMJHL. At one point on-pace for an 80-point season, Allard saw his production taper a bit during the final quarter of the year when he went 15 games without a goal. A two-way center who sees the ice well, Allard still finished as the Fog Devils second-leading scorer with career-high 60 points, including a team-best 44 assists. His greatest improvement came in the plus/minus department, where he topped St. John's with a +15 after a 2006-07 net of -30 (fourth to the last overall). The Quebec native employs a smart work ethic while using his teammates well, but could stand to get his nose a little dirtier. To be an effective mid-line player at a higher level, the big pivot should more than double the 25 hits produced this season. He wears #4 like his favorite player Vincent Lecavalier, and he has the skills to quickly ascend the prospect ranks once he develops an on-ice moxie similar to the Lightning's perennial All-Star. 16) Benjamin Breault, C, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL), 2006 7th round (207th overall) Breault recently completed his fourth QMJHL season with Baie-Comeau, posting totals of 36 goals and 41 assists. Centering the team's top line, he combined with one of the league's most prolific scorers, Francois Bouchard, to lead the Drakkar to a 2nd place regular season finish. Breault ended the season particularly strong, scoring 10 goals and nine assists in a nine-game stretch to boost his career point total to an even 265. Recently turning 20, Breault showed adequate playmaking skills last training camp to support his peers at the AHL level. Not known as a leader, the 5'11 Ontario native must continue to make plays with the puck and hold his own defensively in order to support his middle-line potential. 17) Mike Funk, D, Rochester (AHL), 2005 2nd round (43rd overall) The mobile defenseman rebounded from a November shoulder injury to help a struggling Amerks club stay afloat on the back end. A net of -11 in 50 total games for Rochester, Funk was getting some wind to his AHL sails before earning a mid-March call-up to the injury riddled Sabres. In four games with Buffalo, Funk made good first passes and stayed deep while rating -3. Near completion of his second pro year, the lanky Funk could stand to add 10-15 pounds of mass - even better if it comes in the form of a weighty fire in his belly to spike his physical game. He skates well, and is best when he plays within himself. The former Portland Winter Hawk doesn't have top-end potential, but looks to be serviceable depth defender with a little more seasoning. 18) Felix Schutz, C, ERC Ingolstadt (DEL), 2006 4th round (117th overall) The pesky forward with knack for making plays returned to Germany for his first professional season in the DEL, scoring 12 goals, 13 assists for a mediocre Ingolstadt club. The gritty Schutz was 8th in team scoring, while leading all forwards with 91 PIM. Standing 5'11, 187 pounds, Schutz was named DEL Rookie of the year as a 20-year old after two seasons of North American junior hockey in the QMJHL. Schutz plays a "pro style" game, using speed and physicality to get to the net. He plays like a third-liner, and will need to jump back over the pond once the space is available to start creating some upward pressure on the current Sabres crop. 19) Alex Biega, D, Harvard (ECAC), 2006 5th round (147th overall) A preseason all-conference pick by the media, the stocky Biega helped lead a late-season surge for the Crimson, scoring 13 points in their final 13 games. It was a welcome turnaround after starting his sophomore year with just nine points through his first 21 outings. Biega is an excellent skater with a big shot, and he uses good leverage to effectively play the body. Biega was the Crimson's fourth-leading scorer en route to being placed on the All-ECAC Third Team. Biega could be a dangerous weapon when paired with a stay-at-home type. It's safe to think that Biega returns to Harvard in 2008-09 to pursue his education, and more points from the Crimson blue. 20) Vjacheslav Buravchikov, D, Ak-Bars Kazan (RSL), 2005 6th round (191st overall) Drafted with an offensive reputation, the 6'1, 190-pounder has slowly patched the positional holes in his defensive game with Ak Bars of the RSL. The 20-year old got off to a bumpy start in 2007-08, but reacted to an October benching with improved poise, and his confidence took over from there. Buravchikov stepped up his game down the stretch and into the playoffs, moving the puck, creating opportunities for Kazan forwards, and continuing his responsible play in his own end. He had one point, a goal, in 46 regular season games, and has posted a goal and an assist in six playoff games to date. Rounding into form, Buravchikov remains the biggest question mark in the Sabres prospect stable. Missing The Cut Nick Eno, G, Bowling Green (CCHA), 2007 7th round (187th overall) A late-summer commitment landed Eno in Bowling Green, where he put forth solid numbers while enduring a year of "on-the-job training" in the competitive CCHA. Drafted by Buffalo out of Green Mountain in the EJHL, the Howell, MI native began the season 4-0 while splitting time with junior Jimmy Spratt (CAL). Earning the most wins and total playing time of nine freshman netminders in the CCHA, Eno was named to the conference All-Rookie team. His goals against average (2.79) ranked seventh in the CCHA, while his save percentage (.905) placed sixth. Eno compiled a 12-10 record to earn 70% of the Falcons' 17 wins, yet was just 4-7 against teams .500 or better. Covering a lot of space with decent glove work, the 6'3, 190-pound goalie would benefit by working on his puckhandling skills in the offseason. Dylan Hunter, LW, Rochester (AHL), 2004 9th round (273rd overall) Hunter has scored an impressive 18 goals this season, with just five of those coming on the power play. With NHL bloodlines (his father is former NHL pest Dale), Hunter has always had playmaking eyes, and was generally a one-weay offensive performer. He's gaining consistency in his third AHL season, but his speed is average, and he'd benefit by tapping deeper into his father's nasty side to garner more respect on the ice. As a professional under Randy Cunneyworth, the former London Knight has rounded out his game defensively to the point where he has positioned himself in a small cluster of players who can keep some of the greener Sabre forwards honest. Mark Mancari, RW, Rochester (AHL), 2004 7th round (207th overall) Despite being the Amerks leading point-getter with 48, the 6'4, 225-pound wing has plateaued a bit in his third AHL season. The points come for the AHL All-Star, but the overall effort has been somewhat inconsistent. The Sabres would no doubt like to see Mancari raise his physical play and develop into a power forward type. A little more vigor may have earned Mancari a better look when guys like MacArthur, Kaleta, and Gragnani were getting dialed by Buffalo. Mancari made waves by shattering the AHL skills competiton record for a 102.8 MPH slapshot, but has rarely been able to fire his rocket in normal game speed. To date, he has just three goals in his past 24 games while being the only Amerks player to appear in all 69 contests. Just 22 years of age, Mancari's case is far from closed, but for now it appears to be an uphill battle to the NHL for the former Ottawa 67's star. Matt Generous, D, St. Lawrence (ECAC), 2005 7th round (208th overall) The smooth-skating junior turned in another solid season for St. Lawrence of the ECAC. Producing 15 point of offense (3-12), the New England native also posted a team-leading +12 on a club with a .405 winning percentage. A steadying force on the Saints' blueline, Generous' size and skating ability were sorely missed as injuries derailed the defender on two separate occasions. It's likely the Sabres stash him in the NCAA for another season before deciding his future fate. Adam Dennis, G, Rochester (AHL), 2005 6th round (182nd overall) The former London Knight has gotten better as his second professional season has progressed, but still has more to prove before making a run at an NHL backup gig. Being a goaltender on the league's worst team is never an easy task, yet Dennis has posted three shutouts and .903 save percentage in 39 starts for Rochester while earning 16 of the team's 20 wins. Andrew Orpik, RW/C, Boston College (Hockey East), 2005 7th round (227th overall) The Boston College forward has proven his value as an effective checker in the competitive Hockey East rotation. A former high school defenseman, Orpik provides uses a bangers mentaility up front to impose his large frame around the opposing net. His style has generated six goals and six assists this season, while spending much of his time on an energy unit with Kyle Kucharski and Matt Lombardi. The brother of Penguins defenseman Brooks, the younger Orpik will likely finish his bachelor's with the Eagles next season. Drew MacKenzie, D, Waterloo (USHL), 2007 7th round (209th overall) Signed to attend the University of Vermont in 2008, the 19-year old Connecticut native packed up his gear and headed to the defensive-friendly system of Waterloo for the 2007-08 season. A steady performer in his own end, MacKenzie mixes a welcome element of toughness to his mobile style. At various points in the season, the 6'2, 200-pound rearguard has lead the Black Hawks in both plus/minus and penalty minutes while producing two goals and 12 assists in 51 games. With an extra year of Jr. "A" under his belt, MacKenzie will turn 20 during his freshman year in Hockey East. Mike Card, D, Rochester (AHL), 2004 8th round (241st overall) A product of the rugged WHL, the Amerks defenseman looked to be positioning himself beneath Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber on the re-call totem pole before getting rocked by a pair of serious concussions. After missing over a month due to his initial blow, Card had his head smashed against the glass on January 4th against rival Manitoba in just his second game back and has been out of action since. To that point, Card was -8 with a goal and four assists in 23 games. The 6'1, 190-pounder is currently undergoing rehabilitation treatment, with his playing future currently unknown.
3/24/2008 | 1 comments | Read More

3/23 Recap: Schiestel, Breault lend helping hands

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, March 23, 2008 | 3/23/2008

IceDogs defender Drew Schiestel had a pair of assists and was +1 in Niagara's 5-0 thrashing of Mississauga-St. Michael's. The IceDogs now hold a 3-0 series lead, and will look for the sweep Tuesday night in the Majors' barn. In three playoff wins, Schiestel has three assists and is +3. In the QMJHL, Benjamin Breault also had a pair of assists as Baie-Comeau evened their series at one game apiece with a 5-2 win over Rimouski. With over 60 minutes in penalties, the physical affair was at times more reminiscent of a Rougeau Brothers tag-team match than a QMJHL playoff game. In the RSL, Vjacheslav Buravchikov went scoreless as Kazan dropped their first game of the playoffs, 3-0 to Salavat Yulaev. Ak-Bars now trail the semi-final series, 1-0. With Nathan Paetsch cleared by doctors to return to the Buffalo lineup, Michael Funk has been returned to Rochester. Funk was -3 in four games with the Sabres.
3/23/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Five fight for Frozen Four

Five Buffalo Sabres prospects will take the ice in the NCAA Tournament. Without an overdrawn explanation, let's take a look at the field of sixteen: EAST - Albany Michigan vs Niagara St. Cloud State vs. Clarkson WEST - Colorado Springs Colorado College vs. Michigan State (Tim Kennedy, Corey Tropp) Notre Dame vs. New Hampshire MIDWEST - Madison North Dakota vs. Princeton Wisconsin vs. Denver (Chris Butler) NORTHEAST - Worcester Minnesota vs. Boston College (Nathan Gerbe, Andrew Orpik) Miami vs. Air Force
3/23/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/22 Recap: Gerbe, Butler tabbed for All-Tourney teams

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, March 22, 2008 | 3/22/2008

Nathan Gerbe scored an empty net goal and dodged a check to set-up the eventual game winner as Boston College shut down Vermont 4-0 to win the Hockey East tournament title. Now the national leader in points (Kevin Porter of Michigan went 0-0-0), Gerbe's four goals and five assists in four games earned him Tournament MVP honors. Also contributing was C Andrew Orpik, whose pretty pass resulted in a first period power-play goal for BC. The Eagles figure to be a #2 seed in Worcester when the brackets are rolled out tomorrow morning. Chris Butler played another strong game as Denver earned the WCHA tourney title and Broadmoor Cup with a 2-1 win over Minnesota. In a very competitive tournament, Butler was recognized for his excellent play with placement on the All-Tournament Team. The Pioneers enter the NCAA tourney on a strong note, and will be a #2 seed in possibly Albany when play begins next week. In the ECAC Tournament championship game, D Alex Biega had an assist as Harvard fell to Princeton, 4-1. With the Crimson trailing 2-1 in the third, Biega took an interference penalty that enabled a Tigers goal on the ensuing power play. It would appear that Harvard's season is over, as an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament is unlikely for the Crimson. The sophomore played 34 games this season, scoring three goals and 19 assists to wind up as the team's fourth-leading scorer. In the QMJHL playoffs, Paul Byron had an assist as Gatineau trounced Shawinigan, 9-3. Les Olympiques now lead the first-round series 2-0. T.J. Brennan (-2) had an assist as St. John's lost to Acadie-Bathurst, 5-4. The Foggies now trail the Titan 2-0 in the series. J.S. Allard went pointless for St. John's in the loss. Benjamin Breault and the rest of his Drakkar teammates were shut down as Baie-Comeau dropped the first game of their match-up with Rimouski, 3-0. In the AHL, Marc-Andre Gragnani had a goal and an assist, and Dylan Hunter added his 18th of the season as the Amerks lost to the B-Sens, 7-4. Clarke MacArthur and Mark Mancari also added assists for Rochester. In the loss, Gragnani and Hunter extend their point streaks to four games each, while MacArthur has now registered a point in three straight. Once the Amerks leading scorer, Marek Zagrapan has now gone 14 games without a goal. The Rundown: Gragnani - goal, assist, +1 Hunter - goal, 5 SOG, +1 MacArthur - assist, +1 Mancari - assist, +2 Zagrapan - 2 SOG Drew MacKenzie did not dress in Waterloo's 3-2 overtime win over Ohio. After last night's game misconduct, his third of the season and second for grabbing a facemask, it's possible that his absence is due to a mandatory league suspension.
3/22/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Gogulla ends 6OT game

In game three of the DEL quarterfinal, LW Philip Gogulla scored at 8:16 of the sixth overtime to give Cologne a thrilling 5-4 win over Mannheim. Drafted 48th overall in 2005, Gogulla's first career playoff goal finished off the longest hockey game played in 72 years, and puts the Sharks ahead 2-1 in the series. The two clubs take a rest on Sunday before lacing them back up on Monday.
3/22/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/21 Recap: Eagles get by with a little help from Na-than

Boston College LW Nathan Gerbe piled up three assists as the Eagles stunned favorite New Hampshire in triple overtime, 5-4, to advance to the Hockey East championship game against Vermont. The NCAA leader in shots on goal, Gerbe used the extra time to rack up an impressive 15 on the night. Two of his assists were secondary, but he had many scoring chances of his own throughout. The junior was robbed by a Kevin Regan (BOS) kick save early on, missed an open net on a late-second period power play, and later was unsuccessful on breakaway in the second overtime. The triple helper vaults Gerbe into the national lead for points-per-game (1.45). Andrew Orpik, perhaps still feeling the lingering effects from his previous shoulder injury, again centered the Eagles' fourth unit. At the WCHA tournament, D Chris Butler was even in Denver's 3-1 win over North Dakota. The win propels the Pioneers into the tourney finals this evening in St. Paul, where they'll face surprising Minnesota fresh off an upset of Colorado College. Harvard D Alex Biega notched an assist in their 3-1 ECAC semifinal win over Cornell. The sophomore earned the point when his point shot was tipped by Jon Pelle for the third Crimson goal. Harvard will face Princeton tonight in Albany. In game two of their first-round playoff battle, D Drew Schiestel was +2 with a power-play assist as Niagara defeated Mississauga-St. Michael's, 3-1. The IceDogs jump out to a 2-0 series lead, with game three dropping on Easter Sunday. Paul Byron scored Gatineau's third goal as les Olympiques opened their playoff year with a 4-3 win over Shawinigan. Byron's first of the playoffs came on the power play in the final minute of the second period. Ray Giroux (PHI) made a pretty pass to the centerman, who corralled the puck on his tape to snap a quickie past Cats' goalie Kevin Maletto. J.S. Allard cashed-in a pair a goals, while T.J. Brennan added one of his own in the Fog Devils' 8-5 loss to Acadie-Bathurst. Allard and Brennan each picked up assists as well as St. John's falls behind 1-0 in the first round match-up. The Waterloo Black Hawks’ five-game win-streak ended with a 4-3 loss to Chicago that saw a total of 63 minutes in penalties doled out to both teams. Drew MacKenzie of Waterloo drew the harshest penalty of the game when he received a five minutes major for grabbing the face mask, and a 10 minute game misconduct for the face mask incident. In the AHL, Rochester won their second in a row with a 4-2 defeat of Grand Rapids. Marc-Andre Gragnani one-timed his 11th of the season to get the Amerks on the board in the first. Dylan Hunter would add a pair of goals (16,17), while Clarke MacArthur scored his 13th in the win. Adam Dennis made 32 saves for Rochester, who heads to Binghamton tonight for a 7:05 start. The Rundown: Hunter - two goals, +2 MacArthur - goal, assist, +2 Gragnani - goal, assist, +1 Mancari - assist, +1 Zagrapan - 0-0-0 0 0 Dennis - 32 saves
3/22/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Amerks take one in OT

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, March 20, 2008 | 3/20/2008

Marc-Andre Gragnani scored a power-play goal and assisted on the overtime game winner in Rochester's 5-4 win over Lake-Erie. The Amerks entered the third period trailing 4-2, and used non-Sabres properties to score a pair of third period goals to force the extra session. Continuing to produce as a left wing, Gragnani now has 43 points in his first professional season. Clarke MacArthur added an assist for the Amerks, while Adam Dennis made 29 saves to earn his 15th win. Gragnani - goal, assist, -2 MacArthur - assist, 5 SOG, -2 Hunter - assist, -1 Mancari - 4 SOG, -1 Zagrapan - 1 SOG, 2 PIM Dennis - 29 saves Old friend Jeff Jillson was -2 for Lake Erie. --- In Russia, Vjacheslav Buravchikov and Ak-Bars have advanced to the SuperLiga semi-finals to face Salavat Yulaev Ufa. A sixth-rounder in 2005, Buravchikov has a goal and an assist as his club has swept their way through the first two playoff rounds. Artem Kriukov saw his season end in the quarterfinals as SKA fell to Lokomotiv three games to one.
3/20/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Gerbe for Hobey; Butler honored by WCHA

The Hobey Watch continues for Boston College left wing Nathan Gerbe, who today was named as one of ten finalists for the trophy given to the nation's top player. From
Nathan Gerbe – Boston College, Junior, Forward, Oxford, Michigan This 5’5” dynamo packs a powerful punch and is entering the Hockey East playoff tournament as the nation’s second leading scorer with 52 points. His 27 goals rank tied for third in the country including bagging three in last weekend’s playoffs. Gerbe was named First Team Hockey East and has helped the Eagles to the past two Frozen Fours. • Has played in two straight NCAA championship games – Buffalo draft pick • Has 27 goals, 25 assists for 52 points in 37 games – Communications major • Has 9 PPG, 3 shorthanded, 4 winning goals – active in community service
The next step is the announcement of the Hobey Hat Trick on April 2nd, when the list of ten gets whittled down to three. Nine days later (4/11), the winner will be announced at the Frozen Four. The 10 finalists are: Nathan Gerbe, Jr, F, Boston College Ryan Jones, Sr, F, Miami Kevin Porter, Sr, F, Michigan Jeff Lerg, Jr, G, Michigan State Lee Jubinville, Jr, F, Princeton Simon Lambert, Sr, F, RIT Ryan Lasch, So, F, St. Cloud State Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, Sr, G, North Dakota T.J. Oshie, Jr, F, North Dakota Kevin Regan, Sr, G, New Hampshire --- Denver D Chris Butler has been named to the All-WCHA Second Team. The Sabres 4th round pick in the 2005 draft, Butler has gone 3-14-17 +8 in 38 games for the Pioneers this season. The St. Louis native has anchored the blueline all season long for a surprising Pioneers team that boasts just eight upperclassmen, and is a virtual lock to forego his senior season for a professional contract. The All-WCHA roll call First Team F — Ryan Lasch, St. Cloud State F — T.J. Oshie, North Dakota F — Chad Rau, Colorado College D — Jack Hillen, Colorado College D — Taylor Chorney, North Dakota G — Richard Bachman, Colorado College Second Team F — Andreas Nodl, St. Cloud State F — Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State F — Ryan Duncan, North Dakota D — Chris Butler, Denver D — Chay Genoway, North Dakota G — Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, North Dakota Third Team F — Tyler Bozak, Denver F — Kyle Turris, Wisconsin F — Blake Wheeler, Minnesota D — Jamie McBain, Wisconsin D — Robbie Bina, North Dakota G — Peter Mannino, Denver Rookie Team F — Kyle Turris, Wisconsin F — Tyler Bozak, Denver F — Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State D — Cade Fairchild, Minnesota D — Ryan McDonagh, Wisconsin G — Richard Bachman, Colorado College Player of the Year Richard Bachman, Colorado College Rookie of the Year Richard Bachman, Colorado College Defensive Player of the Year Jack Hillen, Colorado College Student-Athlete of the Year Joel Hanson, Minnesota State Coach of the Year Troy Jutting, Minnesota State --- To game results... Philip Gogulla went pointless as Cologne dropped game two of their DEL quarterfinal series with Mannheim, 2-1. With the teams trading home ice wins, the series will resume on Saturday in Cologne. Drew Schiestel opened the playoff season with a solid defensive effort in Niagara's 4-0 shutout of Mississauga-St. Michael's. Kudos to St. Catharines for loads of energy in their barn as the OHL playoffs returned to the Niagara Peninsula.
3/20/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Gogulla gets it on

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | 3/18/2008

Philip Gogulla assisted on the first Sharks goal of the playoff season in their 4-3 win over Mannheim. With the win, Cologne takes the 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Sharks jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third period, but was forced to work until the end as the defending champion scored three times after. Former Amerk Francois Methot had a goal and an assist as part of the Mannheim comeback attempt.
3/18/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

3/16 Recap: Kennedy, Tropp get unlikely break

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, March 16, 2008 | 3/16/2008

In CCHA tourney play, wingers Tim Kennedy and Corey Tropp were each held scoreless as #3 seed Michigan State was ousted by #6 Northern Michigan, 3-2. Tropp, on a break with Kennedy and Justin Abdelkader, missed an opportunity by clanging one off the post in the middle period. The NMU win sends the 'Cats to the CCHA Final Four where they will take on Michigan. The Spartans now get a week off, waiting to learn which NCAA regional bracket they'll be skating in as they attempt to defend their 2007 national title. Defenseman Alex Biega assisted on the game winning goal as Harvard closed out their ECAC series against Quinnipiac with a 3-1 win. It will be an all-Ivy semifinal as the Crimson move on to face Princeton next week. With North Dakota closing out Michigan Tech today, the table is now set for an exciting match-up with Chris Butler and Denver next weekend. The CHL regular season concluded on Sunday, with all four clubs containing Sabres futures qualifying for post-season action. Steady IceDogs rearguard Drew Schiestel closed out his OHL regular season with a power play goal in Niagara's 3-2 overtime defeat of Peterborough. His 8th of the season came on a slapper from the blue line, and coupled with his solid defensive play, helped him earn the game's #1 star. Niagara and Missisauga-St.Michael's will begin their best-of-seven on Thursday in St. Catharines. In the Q, Ben Breault had a goal and an assist as Baie-Comeau edged Rimouski, 4-2. Breault was also +3 while posting a game-high six shots on goal. The 2006 seventh rounder finished the regular season 36-41-77, and will help lead the Drakkar in their first-round match-up with Rimouski. With Claude Giroux resting, Paul Byron had an assist in Gatineau's 3-1 win over Val-d'Or. Finshing the #3 team in the Telus Division, les Olympiques will take on Shawinigan in the first round. 2007 picks T.J. Brennan and J.S. Allard were both held without a point as St. Jonh's lost their second straight to Acadie-Bathurst, 3-2. Brennan's six-game point streak came to an end in the loss, as did the club's final regular season in the Newfoundland outpost. The franchise is packing up and moving to Verdun of the metro Montreal area for 2008-09 play. In the meantime, the Foggies will renew acquaintances with the same Titan team when round one action starts this week.
3/16/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Season ends for Schutz

In the DEL preliminary round, Felix Schutz finished -2 as ERC Ingolstadt's season came to end with a 4-3 loss to Hamburg. It was reported that Schutz was offered a contract by the Sabres over the summer, but it's unclear whether or not he took the deal before returning to Germany for the 2007-08 season (like fellow German Philip Gogulla). The DEL Rookie of the Year finished the season with 12 goals and 25 total points in 46 games, and an assist in three playoff outings. With his European season now over, one might wonder if it's in the Sabres interest to fly him over for AHL duty. Rochester has been short on players of late, and there are 14 games remaining on the regular season schedule.
3/16/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/15 Recap: Gerbe gains; Eno, Eidsness exit

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, March 15, 2008 | 3/15/2008

Someday the Sabres will achieve synergy in all facets of the organization. On a night when the top club gave Toronto a licking to boost their playoff hopes, a few members of the prospect stable had their seasons derailed by key losses. Not all was bad, though. One name in the "good" column is that of Boston College LW Nathan Gerbe, who tonight continued to battle shadowing defenders with a one goal, one assist effort in a 5-1 win over Providence. Gerbe's goal, his 27th of the season, came on a dazzling penalty shot after he was hauled down on an end-to-end rush in the second period. Andrew Orpik remained at center, checking out for the night with a -1 rating. The Eagles will face #1 seed UNH next weekend. (Tip of the hat to Devo for finding the Gerbe penalty shot) Already thought to have a spot in the NCAA tourney locked up, Chris Butler and the Denver Pioneers closed out their WCHA series with a 1-0 win over Duluth. Paired with sophomore Cody Brookwell, the St. Louis native was even with a pair of minor penalties in the win. With a couple match-ups yet to be settled, the Pios next opponent will be determined tomorrow. As expected, Nick Eno got the start for Bowling Green, but the Falcons season ended with a 4-2 loss to Miami. A 7th round selection in 2007, Eno didn't have the greatest night against the strong Miami offense, allowing four goals on just 11 shots through the first two periods. His tentative play set-in after he was tripped up while skating out to play a puck in the mid-second period. Regardless, the loss completes a solid season that saw the freshman goaltender post a 12-10 record for the surprising Falcons. The battle for who will face Miami next weekend remains unsettled. Michigan State had their eyes on a sweep, but despite out-shooting the Wildcats by a 42-30 margin, instead fell to Northern Michigan, 2-1. The Spartans first line, made up of Buffalo natives Tim Kennedy and Chris Mueller flanking Detroit prospect Justin Abdelkader, was kept off the scoresheet in the loss. Freshman Corey Tropp again skated on the bottom unit for MSU, mustering two shots on goal. Harvard defenseman Alex Biega cranked out eight shots on goal, but the Crimson didn't have enough in a 7-4 loss to Quinnipiac. The series is now knotted at one game apiece, with the puck dropping on the deciding game three tomorrow night at 7:00. In the AJHL playoffs, the standout junior career of Okotoks goaltender Brad Eidsness came to an end with a 1-0 loss to underdog Drumheller. The league MVP stopped 29 Dragon shots, but the Oiler offense that scored just eight goals all series long failed to produce with their paltry 17 shots on the evening. As one chapter ends for Eidsness, a more prestigious one begins next fall as he enters the WCHA as a North Dakota frosh. A night after defeating the league's top team in Omaha, Drew Mackenzie was -1 as Waterloo downed Sioux City, 5-1. The streaking Black Hawks have now gone 9-1 in their last ten games, and sit in second place in the USHL Eastern Division. When we last left the RSL, Vjacheslav Buravchikov and #7 seed Ak-Bars were waiting for their quarterfinal opponent while Artem Kriukov and #6 SKA were heading to a first-round game five with Spartak. SKA pulled through, earning the right to face Kriukov's former team, Lokomotiv, in the second round. Meanwhile, Ak-Bars drew a match-up with #3 CSKA Moscow. In game one, Kriukov went scoreless as his club shutdown Alexei Yashin and the rest of the Yaroslavl attack in a 4-0 win. The following night, Yashin notched a hat trick as Lokomotiv evened the series with a 5-1 win. Kriukov was quiet in that contest as well. Buravchikov scored the third Kazan goal in their 6-0 game one rout of CSKA. The goal was his second of the entire 2007-08 campaign. In game two, Buravchikov did not hit the scoresheet as Kazan got a Petr Cjanek goal late to edge CSKA, 6-5. Game three results for both Russians will be available after their Sunday completion. Finally, the Rochester Americans put up a valiant come-from-behind effort with just 15 skaters in a 4-3 overtime loss at Binghamton. Mark Mancari fueled the comeback with a goal and two assists, and Dylan Hunter added a spark with a goal and an assist of his own. Adam Dennis did his part, making 40 saves to keep the game within reach. For the B-Sens, former Sabres prospect Denis Hamel had a goal and an assist, while Buffalo's fifth-round pick in 1999, Matt Kinch, set up the short-handed winner in overtime. The Rundown: Mancari - goal, two assists, -2, 5 SOG Hunter- goal, assist, -1, 5 SOG Gragnani - assist Zagrapan - 1 SOG, 2 PIM Dennis - 40 saves
3/15/2008 | 4 comments | Read More

3/14 Recap: Bye week good for Gerbe, Biega, Kennedy

In the opening game of their Hockey East quarterfinal series, Nathan Gerbe scored the final two Eagle goals as Boston College cruised past Providence, 5-1. Gerbe scored his 25th when a Benn Ferriero shot went wide, bouncing off the end boards to the waiting winger at the right side of the Friars cage. He later cemented the win by scoring his 26th on a crisp wrister with under seven minutes to play in the third. Gerbe's fellow junior, Andrew Orpik, returned to action from a shoulder injury, abandoning his usual RW spot to center the Eagles fourth line. Tim Kennedy potted his 19th goal and added an assist as Michigan State opened their playoff season with a 5-1 win over Northern Michigan. Kennedy's helper came on a cross-ice feed into Justin Abdelkader's wheelhouse, with the Red Wings prospect uncorking a one-timer for the game winning goal. Spartan freshman Corey Tropp skated on the fourth line, registering a shot on goal. Alex Biega had three assists as Harvard embarrassed Quinnipiac, 11-0. A week after Quinnipiac hung 14 on Brown, the Crimson scored more goals than they did in the entire month of November for their most lopsided win since 1993. Entering the WCHA tournament as the #3 seed, Denver met success in their opener at Magness with a 6-3 win over Duluth. Defenseman Chris Butler was even with three shots on goal for the Pios. After winning the decisive game three last weekend, Flames prospect Jimmy Spratt got the start for Bowling Green in their 4-1 loss to Miami in the CCHA playoffs. It is possible that 2007 pick Nick Eno gets the nod tonight as the Falcons look to even the series. In game two of the DEL play-in round, Felix Schutz was held scoreless as Ingolstadt fell to Hamburg in overtime, 5-4. Schutz took a minor penalty in the extra session, and Hamburg capitalized on the ensuing PP to even the series at 1-1. In the opener, Schutz assisted on the first Ingolstadt goal in their 5-3 win. The deciding game three will be played on Sunday. In the QMJHL, Jean-Simon Allard scored his 16th goal of the season on the power play, and T.J. Brennan added an assist as St. John's lost to Acadie-Bathurst, 5-3. The goal was Allard's first in 15 games, while Brennan's assist extends his current point streak to six games. Paul Byron was +2 with five shots on goal as Gatineau lost to Rouyn-Noranda, 7-4. The active center also blocked three of his team's eight shots in the loss. Benjamin Breault was -1 with four shots on goal as Baie-Comeau was downed by Chicoutimi, 4-2. The 5'11 center saw his nine-game point streak (10-9-19) end in the road loss. Drew Schiestel was -1 with a roughing double minor in Niagara's 5-2 win over the Majors. The contest evolved into a rough-and-tumble affair, and as it turns out, the two clubs will face each other in the first round of the OHL playoffs beginning next week. Niagara will close out the regular season on home ice Sunday versus Peterborough. Waterloo rearguard Drew MacKenzie picked up an assist in their 5-2 win over Omaha. In his first USHL season, the Vermont recruit now has 14 points, 84 PIM, and is +5 in 41 games. In AHL play, Rochester was shutout by Syracuse 3-0. And then there were six, as in the number of Sabres prospects left playing with the Amerks as injuries riddle the co-parent. With Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Mike Funk, and Patrick Kaleta all skating in the Sabres 7-1 trouncing of the Canes, the Amerks dressed just 16 players, including a shift for Marc-Andre Gragnani back to D from LW, in the loss. The Rundown: MacArthur- 3 SOG Mancari - 4 SOG, 2 PIM Hunter - 2 SOG, 2 PIM Zagrapan - 2 SOG, 2 PIM Gragnani - 1 SOG, -2 Dennis - DNP
3/15/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres want the Funk

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, March 14, 2008 | 3/14/2008

The Buffalo Sabres have called up defenseman Mike Funk for tonight's important match-up with Carolina. His appearance in Buffalo's lineup will be the first of the season for the 2004 2nd round pick after seeing time in five games in 2006-07. Funk has played all year with Rochester of the AHL, posting eight assists and 89 PIM in 50 games. The 6'4, 210-pounder missed nearly all of November with a shoulder injury. And so it seems that Carolina once again faces a depleted Sabres defense in what is essentially a playoff setting. Let's just hope Funk doesn't pull a Ned Braden like he did in a Rochester practice earlier this season. This isn't the Federal League. Video courteousy of
3/14/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/13 Recap: Eidsness, Oilers face elimination

On Thursday in the AJHL playoffs, the Drumheller Dragons inched their way closer to a series upset of Brad Eidsness' Okotoks Oilers with a 2-1 win in game four. With the loss in the road barn, the Oilers now trail the Dragons 3-1 in the best of seven series. It was an exciting game played with both teams trading rushes and checks, and generally leaving it all on the ice. Eidsness was sharp throughout, making 23 stops including a right-pad save on a penalty shot late in the second period. Tied at one entering the third, the Dragons solved the Sabres 2007 fifth-rounder with a little over twelve minutes to go, and was able to hold off the Oilers for the big win. The Oilers will start what they hope is a three-game comeback on Saturday in Okotoks. The Oilers entered the contest on the heels of their 4-3 win in Tuesday's game three. Eidsness made 33 saves in the Oilers in that one, and now must hope for some goal support if Okotoks plans on extending their year. In the OHL, Drew Schiestel was +1 as Niagara defeated Belleville, 4-3. The Dogs earned the home ice win despite being outshot by the Bulls by a 51-32 margin. In the process, Schiestel's six-game point-streak (1-5-6) came to an end.
3/14/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Kennedy named to CCHA Second Team

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, March 13, 2008 | 3/13/2008

Michigan State junior forward Tim Kennedy has been named to the CCHA All-Conference Second Team. Originally selected by Washington in the 2005 draft, Kennedy scored 18 goals and 20 assists to lead the Spartans. The point total was good for 7th overall in the CCHA. Other notables on the All-Conference list include Michigan forward and current Hobey Baker favorite, Kevin Porter (first team), Bowling Green forward and Rochester native Derek Whitmore (second team), and Sabres summer prospect camp invitee, Mitch Ganzak of Miami (second team). As prevously mentioned, 2007 seventh rounder Nick Eno was named to the All-Rookie Team. 2007-08 CCHA All-Conference Teams First Team F Kevin Porter, Sr., Michigan (11) 55 F Ryan Jones, Sr., Miami (10) 53 F Chad Kolarik, Sr., Michigan (7) 47 D Tyler Eckford, Jr., Alaska (9) 48 D Alec Martinez, Jr., Miami (6) 43 G Jeff Lerg, Jr., Michigan State (7) 42 Second Team F Bryan Marshall, Sr., Nebraska-Omaha (5) 40 F Derek Whitmore, Sr., Bowling Green (2) 31 F Tim Kennedy, Jr., Michigan State (1) 30 D Mitch Ganzak, Sr., Miami (3) 30 D Mark Mitera, Jr., Michigan (2) 23 G Jeff Zatkoff, Jr., Miami (4) 36 All-Rookie Team F Carter Camper, Miami F Max Pacioretty, Michigan F Jacob Cepis, Bowling Green F Mark Olver, Northern Michigan D Erik Gustafsson, Northern Michigan D Jeff Petry, Michigan State G Nick Eno, Bowling Green
3/13/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/10 Recap: Eidsness, Oilers down 2-0

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, March 10, 2008 | 3/10/2008

In an AJHL second round playoff game, Brad Eidsness made 22 saves as Okotoks fell to Drumheller, 3-2. The Oilers did nothing with their home ice advantage, and now head to Drumheller trailing 2-0 in their best of seven series. Ranked 15th in the latest CJAHL Rankings, the Oilers have struggled on the power play and went just 1/12 tonight. Meanwhile, it appears that Eidsness has come back down to earth after his MVP season. The Sioux recruit will need to better control his rebounds and essentially "steal" a game to jump-start his squad if they want to make it past the Dragons.
3/10/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Eno named to All-Rookie Team

Congrats go out to Bowling Green netminder Nick Eno, who today was named to the 2007-08 CCHA All-Rookie Team. Eno was 11-8 in the regular season, and 1-1 in his first two playoff contests with Western Michigan before giving way to Jimmy Spratt in game three. The 6'3, 190-pound Eno carries a 2.73 GAA and .908 save percentage into this weekend's match-up with Miami. The 2007 seventh-rounder is joined on the All-Rookie team by forwards Carter Camper (Miami), Max Pacioretty (Michigan), Jacob Cepis (Bowling Green), and Mark Olver (Northern Michigan); and defensemen Jeff Petry (Michigan State) and Erik Gustafsson (Northern Michigan).
3/10/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/9 Recap: RSL playoffs; Saints fall to 'Gate

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, March 9, 2008 | 3/09/2008

In the RSL playoffs, Vjacheslav Buravchikov went pointless for Ak Bars in their 3-0 series sweep over HC MVD. Kazan finished seventh in the regular season standings, and moves on to face either Mettalurg or CSKA in the second round. Former first-round miscue and current 2008 draft chip, Artem Kriukov, has an assist for SKA in their first-round battle with Spartak. SKA got out to a 2-0 lead in the series, only to drop the next two, forcing a game five showdown on home ice. Chosen 15th overall in the 2000 draft, Kriukov had 15 points in the regular season. Now 26 years old and technically no longer a "prospect", the player formerly known as "The Russian Concussion" isn't expected to go the "Mike Ryan route" and enter the NHL in his middle 20's. Instead, the Sabres are due a compensatory pick in 2008 for their failure to sign the former first-round pick. Eight years later, it appears that the Russian pivot is finally in position to contribute. Bowling Green advanced in the CCHA playoffs with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win versus Lake Superior. Nick Eno watched from the bench as Flames prospect Jimmy Spratt made 29 saves while the Falcons scored three unanswered goals to seal the win. BGSU will sqaure off with #2 seed Miami next weekend. In the ECAC playoffs, defenseman Matt Generous was -1 with three shots on goal as St. Lawrence lost to Colgate, 3-1. The first-round loss ends the Saints' season with a 13-20-4 record. Generous, the 208th pick in 2005, finishes the season 3-12-15 with a +12 in 33 games played.
3/09/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/9 Recap: Byron flyin' at right time

In a key QMJHL match-up, Paul Byron (+4) scored a goal and three assists in Gatineau's 6-1 trouncing of top-ranked Baie-Comeau. The four-point effort gives the explosive center 27 points in his last 14 games. Five days after Byron's 11-game point streak came to an end, Drakkar center Benjamin Breault extended his run to nine games (10-9-19) with an assist in the loss. T.J. Brennan (+1) continued his solid run by scoring the only Fog Devils goal in a 3-1 loss to Lewiston. The goal was Brennan's 16th of the season, with four of those coming on his current five-game point streak. 2007 5th round pick J.S. Allard had a shot on goal in the St. John's loss. Drew Schiestel notched an assist and helped control the game late in Niagara's 4-3 shootout victory over Oshawa. The comeback victory by the Dogs was teeming with OHL talent, as three of the top-four league scorers (#2 Brett MacLean and #3 John Tavares of Oshawa, and #4 Luca Caputi of Niagara) joined Schiestel in action, along with highly ranked 2007 defensive hopefuls Alex Pietrangelo and Michael Del Zotto. The assist gives Schiestel points in his last six games (1-5-6), raising his season sums to seven goals and 29 assists. Brad Eidsness made 31 saves, but Okotoks couldn't get it going in 5-1 loss to Drumheller. The loss puts the Oilers in a 1-0 hole in their AJHL second round series with the Dragons. In the final weekend of DEL play, Ingolstadt's Felix Schutz registered two shots on goal in a 4-2 win over Frankfurt. The victory coupled with a Krefeld loss puts Ingolstadt in the tenth and final playoff spot. The DEL Rookie of the Year, Schutz compiled 12 goals and 13 assists in his first season back in Europe after two QMJHL campaigns. Philip Gogulla was +1 as Cologne closed their regular season with a 4-1 win over the Metro Stars. Entering the postseason, the 2005 2nd round pick has 11 goals and 33 assists for the third-place Sharks. Last season, Gogulla scored eight goals and 21 total points. Dylan Hunter tied the game in the third, but the Amerks couldn't make it to a shootout in a 3-2 overtime loss to Houston. Adam Dennis made 29 saves, while Marek Zagrapan, Marc Mancari, and Mike Weber were all credited with assists. Combos of note: MacArthur-Zagrapan-(Globke) Gragnani-(Brine)-Hunter Funk-Weber The Rundown Hunter- goal, +1, 4 SOG Zagrapan - assist, +1 Mancari - assist, +1 Weber - assist, +2, 4 PIM Gragnani +1 MacArthur - 0-0-0 0 0 E Funk -1 Dennis - 29 saves Keep it here as we'll have updates following a pair of deciding games in college tourney action featuring St. Lawrence defenseman Matt Generous and BGSU's Nick Eno. For now, the update looks like it'll be limited to just Generous, as Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch has given the nod to Jimmy Spratt in the Falcons net after Eno gave up four goals on 24 shots in last night's loss.
3/09/2008 | 2 comments | Read More

3/8 recap: Gerbe back on track

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, March 8, 2008 | 3/08/2008

Nathan Gerbe set up the eventual game winner in the first period, then later added an empty netter as Boston College closed the Hockey East regular season with a 4-1 win over Northeastern. The victory gives the Eagles home ice next week in a playoff set with Providence. In addition to the points, Gerbe was also +2 with a team-high six shots on goal in the win. After second period post-whistle meeting lead to coincidental minors with the Huskies' Steve Silva, Gerbe and his dance partner earned ten minute misconducts for chirping at the officials. The 2005 5th round pick enters the Hockey East tournament as the league's leading scorer with 24 goals and 24 assists. Junior RW Andrew Orpik missed his third straight game with a bum shoulder. Nick Eno stopped 20 of 24 shots before being pulled as Bowling Green fell to Lake Superior, 6-1. Despite the four goals against, not all of the blame can be placed on Eno. Odd-man rushes, screens, and turnovers lead to three Laker goals in a four-minute stretch in the early second period. Tied at one game apiece, the rubber match is set for tomorrow to see who will face #2 Miami next weekend. In the ECAC playoffs, Matt Generous had an assist as St. Lawrence lost to Colgate, 3-2. At the :48 mark of the second, Generous walked out from behind the Raider cage and fired a shot that led to a Travis Vermeulen rebound goal. The two teams will face-off tomorrow night at 7:00 with the winner advancing to play top-seeded Clarkson. Chris Butler scored the only Pioneer goal as Denver was swept by Colorado College, 3-1. Butler's goal, his third of the year, came with the man advantage in the third. Denver will take a three-game losing streak into next weekend's WCHA tournament match-up with Duluth. Drew MacKenzie was +2 with a pair of minor penalties as Waterloo blanked Chicago, 6-0.
3/08/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/8: Enroth ends with loss

Jhonas Enroth made 36 saves as SSK closed the regular season with a 3-1 loss to Frolunda. Finishing in 9th place, the club missed the top-league playoff while avoiding Kvalserien, a tournament round between the bottom two SEL teams (Brynas and Mora) and the top Allsvenskan clubs to determine who plays in Elitserien next season. Coming up later, Matt Generous and the St. Lawrence Saints, and the Bowling Green Falcons, backstopped by Nick Eno, each take 1-0 series leads into college playoff action this evening. Boston College (Nathan Gerbe, Andrew Orpik) looks to enact revenge on Northeastern as the Hockey East regular season comes to a close. Likewise, Chris Butler and the Denver Pioneers look to even the score with Colorado College. In Junior A play, Vermont recruit Drew MacKenzie and his Waterloo Black Hawks host Chicago, while North Dakota recruit Brad Eidsness and the Okotoks Oilers open their second-round battle with the Drumheller Dragons tomorrow afternoon.
3/08/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/7 Recap: Eno gets win; CHLers heating up

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, March 7, 2008 | 3/07/2008

Freshman Nick Eno made his first career playoff start, stopping 20 shots in a 4-3 win over Lake Superior. With his Falcons off to a 3-0 lead in the second period, Eno was beaten by a blueline blast as he was screened by both his defensemen. Superior would later catch Eno while on a 5-3 power play to make it 3-2. The Falcons would get one back, only to have a shot beat Eno high glove side to cut Bowling Green's lead to 4-3 with six minutes remaining. A 2007 7th round pick, Eno was able to hold off a late flurry to earn his first NCAA post-season victory. Nathan Gerbe was -2 as Boston College continued their slide with a 3-2 loss to Northeastern. After scoring 36 points in his first 20 games (1.80 ppg), Gerbe has scored just 10 in points in 14 games since then (.71 ppg). Usually a leader in shots on goal, the feisty Oxford, MI native had just two on the night. Teams are guarding Gerbe differently, limiting his opportunities to get behind the defense while trying to keep him on the perimeter. LW Andrew Orpik remained out of the lineup with an injured left shoulder as the Eagles fell to 1-5-1 in their last seven games. Defenseman Matt Generous played solid defensively and added four shots on goal as St. Lawrence defeated Colgate, 5-2. The Saints jumped out to 4-0 a lead en route to taking the 1-0 series lead. Generous' defensive partner and goal leader among ECAC defensemen, Zack Miskovic, had a pair for SLU. Chris Butler went pointless with a team-best five shots on goal as Denver fell to Colorado College, 5-2. Butler missed a scoring opportunity late in the second, finding a goal post instead of the back of the net for the second straight week in the loss. With the victory, CC earns the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA champions, and the Gold Pan, played for annually between the two Colorado rivals. In the CHL, Drew Schiestel was +2 with another assist in Niagara's 5-2 win over Brampton. As the Dogs flex some muscle with the playoffs around the corner, Schiestel has been upping his game as well. He set up Luca Caputi's 50th goal of the season on his first shift of the game to give Niagara a 1-0 lead. The 2007 second-rounder now has points in his last five games (1-4-5), and eight in his last nine, all while being a minus player in just five of his past 30 games. T.J. Brennan continued his recent hot streak with another goal, his fifth in his last seven games, as St. John's toppled Lewiston, 2-1. The first-period goal against Jonathan Bernier, his 15th of the season, came five-hole on a 35-foot slapper and eventually proved to be the game winner. J.S. Allard was +1 with a team-best three blocked shots for the Fog Devils, and has just one point in his last seven games. Paul Byron picked up a goal and an assist in Gatineau's 6-5 overtime loss to Rimouski. The points jack up the center's season totals to 36 goals and 27 assists in 49 games. Benjamin Breault pocketed an assist in Baie-Comeau's 8-4 loss at Shawinigan. The helper runs Breault's point-streak to eight games (10-8-18) as the Drakkar maintain their standing as the top QMJHL club despite the loss. In the USHL, Drew MacKenzie was -1 on the Black Hawk blueline as streaking Waterloo upended last-place Des Moines, 3-1. The Hawks are 6-1 in their last seven games, and now occupy second place in the East Division. MacKenzie's 13 points are third on the team for defensemen, while his +2 is tied for second overall on the club. The Rochester Americans jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but surrendered three unanswered goals in a 3-2 loss to the Rampage. Amerks captain Clarke MacArthur scored a goal in his first AHL game since January 4th, while Mike Funk and Marek Zagrapan had assists in the loss. Marc-Andre Gragnani skated without a point, ending his season-best ten-game point streak. The Amerks played without Andrej Sekera who has been +2 in two games with the Sabres since his recall early in the week. The Rundown: MacArthur - goal, +1 Zagrapan - assist Funk - assist Gragnani - 2 SOG Mancari - 6 SOG Hunter - 1 SOG Weber - 1 SOG Dennis- DNP
3/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Weekend Preview

It's expected that Nick Eno will get the nod in the Falcon pipes tonight when Bowling Green opens the CCHA playoffs on home ice against Lake Superior. Eno is 11-8 with a 2.59 GAA and .913 save percentage on the year, while junior Jimmy Spratt has gone 5-10 with a 2.97 GAA and .888 save percentage. Matt Generous and (9) St. Lawrence will head to (8) Colgate for a first-round ECAC playoff match-up. Andrew Orpik is likely out with an injured left shoulder as Nathan Gerbe and the rest of his Boston College teammates face Northeastern in the final weekend of Hockey East action. Gerbe is tied for second in the nation in scoring with 23 goals and 23 assists, but has only three points in his last seven games. In a key Front Range battle, Chris Butler and Denver will play a weekend set with in-state rival Colorado College. Tyler Ruegsegger returns to the Pioneers lineup as they try to take the Gold Pan back from the Tigers. Michigan State's Tim Kennedy and Corey Tropp, and Harvard's Alex Biega will have the weekend off as their clubs earned first-round byes in their respective conference tourneys. Rochester kicks off a five-game road trip tonight against San Antonio. Marc-Andre Gragnani takes a ten-game point streak into tonight's action. It should be interesting to see how the return of scoring forward Clarke MacArthur complements the streaking defenseman-turned-LW. MacArthur scored 1.15 points per game with the Amerks before his last trip to Buffalo. Mark Mancari currently leads the Amerks with 42 points. In the OHL, Drew Schiestel and the IceDogs will visit Brampton tonight before hosting John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals on Sunday afternoon. In the Q, Gatineau's Paul Byron will look to start another scoring streak at home against Rimouski, while Benjamin Breault tries to up his point streak to eight games as Baie-Comeau takes on Shawinigan. The Fog Devils' T.J. Brennan and J.S. Allard enter the stretch run of the team's final season on Newfoundland with a road contest in Lewiston. The franchise will play in Verdun in 2008-09. On Sunday afternoon, Brad Eidsness and the Okotoks Oilers will begin their AJHL second round playoff series with Drumheller. In the USHL, Drew MacKenzie and Waterloo will host Des Moines and Chicago in back-to-back action on Friday and Saturday. Failing to qualify for the playoffs, Jhonas Enroth and SSK will close out their Elitserien season on Saturday against Frolunda. With Darcy Regier stating his intentions to sign the keeper, the regular season contest could very well be Enroth's last in a European league (for the foreseeable future anyways). Cologne's Philip Gogulla and Ingolstadt's Felix Schutz will close out their DEL regular seasons on Sunday. An Ingolstadt win will push them ahead of Krefeld for the final playoff spot, while Gogulla and the Sharks have already clinched.
3/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Breault named CHL Player of the Week

On top of being named QMJHL Offensive Player of the Week, Benjamin Breault has also been named Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week.
TORONTO - Baie-Comeau Drakkar forward Benjamin Breault was named Canadian Hockey League player of the week Wednesday. He scored six goals and added three assists in three Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games last week. Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires was the Ontario Hockey League nominee and Victor Bartley of the Regina Pats was the Western Hockey League nominee.
3/07/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/5 Recap: Breault continues streak; Oilers move on

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, March 6, 2008 | 3/06/2008

Benjamin Breault scored the first Drakkar goal and earned the game's #2 star in their 3-1 win over Quebec. The goal extends the point streak of the reigning QMJHL Player of the Week to seven games (10-7-17). With 73 points, the 2006 seventh-rounder needs seven in his final four games to match last season's 80-point output. T.J. Brennan notched a power play assist in St. John's 3-2 win over Moncton. J.S. Allard was -1 for the Fog Devils. Drew Schiestel added another assist to his season total in the IceDogs 7-5 road loss to Erie. With 4th place in the OHL's Eastern Conference locked up, Niagara marches in to Brampton on Friday. In Sweden, Dennis Persson went pointless on the third pairing in Nykoping's 8-4 loss to Bjorkloven. In the AJHL Playoffs, Brad Eidsness made 22 saves as Okotoks closed out their first-round series with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Canucks. With the a 3-1 series win, the Oilers will move on to the second round to meet the Drumheller Dragons. On Tuesday, Eidsness made 23 saves as Okotoks defeated Calgary 5-4 in overtime to take the 2-1 series lead. Also Tuesday, Paul Byron saw his impressive eleven game point streak come to an end in Gatineau's 5-2 loss to Victoriaville. The Olympiques pivot scored 11 goals and 21 total points during the run, and now has 35 goals and 61 points in 48 games. His goal total puts him in a tie for 15th on the Q leaderboard, while his 23.2 shooting percentage is best among the top 100 league scorers.
3/06/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

Breault named QMJHL Offensive Player of the Week

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, March 3, 2008 | 3/03/2008

Benjamin Breault has been named QMJHL Offensive Player of the Week. From the Q Website:
BOUCHERVILLE, Monday, March 3, 2008 – Baie-Comeau Drakkar centre Benjamin Breault and St. John’s Fog Devils goaltender Jake Allen today were named the TELUS offensive and defensive players of the week for the period extending from February 25 to March 2. In three contests, Breault scored six goals, including a shorthanded marker, and added three helpers while registering a +6 rating. He helped the Drakkar collect six points in the standings with wins over the Cataractes, the Voltigeurs and the Saguenéens. Moreover, Breault was named the first star of each contest. He played arguably his best game of the week last Wednesday as he collected four points in an 8-3 decision over Shawinigan. This week, he joined teammates Matt Marquardt and François Bouchard as the third member of the 30-goal plateau. Angelo Esposito (3-7-10) of Quebec, Francis Paré (6-1-7) of Chicoutimi and Mathieu Perreault (2-6-8) of Acadie-Bathrust were also considered.
3/03/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/2 Recap: High marks across the board

The Buffalo Sabres didn't have enough juice in their loss to the Red Wings, but it was a rather successful night for the rest of the Sabres organization. Marc-Andre Gragnani and Dylan Hunter each collected a pair of goals and assists in Rochester's 5-3 win over Iowa. Gragnani remains the Amerks hot hand, scoring both of his goals on the power play to extend his season-best point streak to ten games. Hunter's four-point game (3 on the PP) was a greater output than he had in all of February (3 points in 11 games). Rundown: Gragnani - 2 goals, 2 assists, 6 SOG Hunter - 2 goals, 2 assists, -1 Funk - assist, +2 Weber - 5 PIM, -2 Sekera - assist, -2 Mancari - assist, 3 SOG Zagrapan - 4 PIM, 2 SOG In the DEL, Philip Gogulla continued his excellent season with a goal and an assist in Cologne's 4-2 win over Mannheim. Down 2-0 entering the final period, the 2005 second-rounder put Cologne on the board with a power play goal at the 4:19 mark. Later on a 5-3, Gogulla set up the game-winning goal by Sean Tallaire to the delight of over 15,000 fans in Koln Arena. Gogulla now ranks third on the Sharks in scoring with 43 points, and is clearly ready for North American hockey next season. Felix Schutz had three shots on goal as Ingolstadt lost to the Metro Stars, 5-3. Schutz, who earlier was named the DEL Rookie of the Year, has 12 goals and 13 assists in 45 games this season after a two-year run in the QMJHL that saw him post 96 points. After dashing up to #11 on the latest SabresProspects rankings (tease), Paul Byron is building a case to earn even higher marks with a two-goal, one assist performance in Gatineau's 5-4 win over Acadie-Bathurst. The 2007 pick scored a third period goal on the power play, then netted his 35th goal of the season in overtime to lead the Olympiques come-from-behind efforts. With 14 goals and seven assists in his last 11 games, Byron owns the longest active point streak in the QMJHL. Another player heating up with the post-season in sight is Baie-Comeau's Benjamin Breault. Today, Breault potted two goals five minutes apart in the first period in the Drakkar's 4-2 win over Chicoutimi. The Pembroke, Ontario native dominated play with seven shots on goal while winning 19 of 25 faceoffs to earn the game's #1 star. Not to be outdone by Byron, Breault himself is sporting a six-game point streak that has seen him compile 9-7-16. In the OHL, Drew Schiestel scored the seventh IceDogs goal, his seventh of the season, as Niagara doubled-up Erie, 10-5. Schiestel was also +3 in surprisingly solid effort following the team's early-morning return from Sudbury. Brad Eidsness made 34 saves as Okotoks lost to the Calgary Canucks, 2-1. The Canucks scored two first-period goals, but the Oilers couldn't put together a team effort to dig themselves out in the ensuing forty minutes. The Sioux recruit was named his team's best player in the loss. The clubs are now tied at one game apiece in their best of five series with action resuming Tuesday evening in Calgary. In the USHL, Drew MacKenzie was on the ice for both Waterloo goals in their 2-1 win over Green Bay.
3/03/2008 | 0 comments | Read More

3/1 Recap: Kennedy, Brennan stay warm

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, March 1, 2008 | 3/01/2008

In Sweden, Jhonas Enroth made 36 saves as SSK fell out of the elitserien race with a 2-1 loss to Linkopings. With the 2006 2nd round pick pitching a shutout in his last start, SSK coach Leif Stromberg bucked his rotation to stay with the hot hand. Tied at one entering the third, SSK poured it on with 25 shots, but was unable to solve former Capital Rostislav Stana. Linkopings scored the game winner on the power play midway through the period. Rochester made the short drive down the 90, where they met their third straight defeat in a 3-1 decision with the Crunch. Marc-Andre Gragnani extended his point-streak to nine games with an assist on the sole Amerks goal, while Dylan Hunter also contributed to the tally. Gragnani is now second on the Amerks in points, and ranked eighth among AHL rookies. 2005 pick Adam Dennis made 22 saves in the loss. In the AJHL playoffs, Brad Eidsness made 16 saves in Okotoks' 5-3 win over the Calgary Canucks. The win gives the Oilers a 1-0 lead in the first round best-of-five series. Tim Kennedy ended the regular season on a strong note, posting a goal and an assist as Michigan State swept Bowling Green with a 4-0 shutout. Kennedy was +7 in the weekend home-and-home while pushing his season totals to 18-20-38 in 37 games. Since his 13-game run without a goal, Kennedy has scored five goals and four assists over a six-game point streak. Freshman RW Corey Tropp flipped a shot on goal in the win, while Nick Eno sat this one out for Bowling Green. The Spartans will now enjoy a bye week, returning on March 14th to face the winner of Ohio State and Western Michigan in the second round of the CCHA playoffs. Bowling Green will begin their tourney quest next weekend against Lake Superior. Junior sparkplug Nathan Gerbe scored his 23rd goal of the season as Boston College played to a 2-2 tie with Providence. With under five minutes to play in the opening period, Gerbe took a Ben Smith pass and buried one of his team-best six shots on goal. Andrew Orpik did not dress for the Eagles after leaving last night's game due to an upper body injury. DU assistant captain Chris Butler notched an assist in Pioneers 2-1 upset loss to Michigan Tech. The assist, Butler's 16th point of the year, came as he set up Rhett Rakhshani's power play goal in the third period. He nearly tied the game on an earlier third period power play when his shot from the right point clanged off the far post. Harvard defenseman Alex Biega pumped three shots on the Cornell goal in the Crimson's 3-1 win. Harvard's hot finish earned them a #3 seed and first-round bye in the ECAC tournament. They await the winner of Quinnipiac and Brown. Matt Generous (+1) raised his team-best rating to +13 as St. Lawrence defeated Princeton, 3-2. The steady junior's importance to the Saint blueline is clear when noticing that the next best rating on the club is +3. As the #9 seed in the ECAC, St. Lawrence will face #8 Colgate in a first round tournament match up next weekend. In the QMJHL, T.J. Brennan scored another goal as St. John's lost to Cape Breton in a shootout, 5-4. Brennan's goal, his 14th of the season and fourth in his last six games, forced overtime with 4:22 left on the clock. He was later stopped in a shootout attempt. J.S. Allard registered four shots on goal for the Foggies. Niagara's Drew Schiestel picked up an assist on the power play as the Dogs defeated Sudbury, 5-3. The Hamilton native now has five assists in his last six games from the Ice Dog blueline. In the Dogs win, Pens prospect Luca Caputi had two assists to go over the 100-point plateau. Drew MacKenzie was -2 in Waterloo's 4-3 loss to the Jr. Blue Jackets.
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