3/26 Recap: McNabb, Boychuk come up big as playoffs heat up

Brayden McNabb continued to be a point machine Saturday, scoring a goal and adding two assists as Kootenay evened their best-of-seven series at one game apiece with a 5-2 win over Moose Jaw. After netting an assist on the game's first goal, McNabb scored on a power-play slapper from the high slot to gave the Ice an early 2-0 lead. The three-point night ties a Kootenay franchise mark for points by s defenseman in a playoff game. The two clubs will lock in Tuesday for game #3 in Moose Jaw.

Elsewhere in the WHL, Riley Boychuk opened the game with a power play goal and set-up another Winterhawks tally a few minutes later as Portland opened the playoff season by pitching a 4-0 shutout over Everett. Boychuk, who was also called for a pair of interference penalties (one in the paint on the goalie) had just three points in 13 playoff games in 2009-10. Game #2 will be played Sunday evening.

Matt MacKenzie scored the game winning goal as Tri-City held on to defeat Vancouver, 5-4. MacKenzie drilled a shot while on 5-3 advantage to give the Ams a 5-3 late at 9:47 of the third period. The Ams take a 2-0 series lead heading into Tuesday's game #3.

Mark Pysyk logged a -1 as Edmonton lost for the second straight night to Red Deer, 5-1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ('11) scored his third goal of the series and was whistled for a diving minor in the Rebels victory. I'm not a fan of diving. Shame on you, RNH. The Oil Kings will look to halve the Rebels 2-0 series lead on Monday.

Kevin Sundher was even Chilliwack was shut out by Spokane, 5-0. Trailing the series 2-0, the Bruins now face the difficult task of having to win two of the next three games in the Chiefs barn in order to keep their season hopes alive. The two teams re-engage for game #3 on Wednesday.

In the OHL, Zack Kassian finished +2 with six shots on goal and a smattering of hits as Windsor took game #2 of their first round match-up with Erie, 4-3 in double-overtime. The 2009 first-rounder was engaged from the get-go, using his feet to complete checks and battle for loose pucks, and seemed to get better (i.e. played with a greater sense of urgency) as the game progressed. With a slew of penalties against the Spits hampering Kassian's early ice time, the 20-year old was up on the bench directing teammates and chirping at the opposition. He was locked in mentally, which could bode well for Windsor entering Monday's game #3. If this effort is any indication of his preparedness moving forward, which keep in mind was by no means "overwhelming", then there's little question he'll be Portland-bound when his OHL season is done.

Marcus Foligno finished -1 as Sudbury opened their playoff year with a wild 8-7 overtime win over Ottawa. The strapping 6'3 forward made his presence felt just :11 in when he was whistled for a nasty slash/spear to the mid-section of gritty 67's forward Dalton Smith. The Wolves, who trailed 5-4 at the second intermission, sealed the deal when Andrey Kuchin completed his hat trick at 3:26 in to the extra session.

Gregg Sutch did not point as Mississauga edged Belleville, 1-0. The Majors, holders of a 2-0 series lead, will look to shake the disappointing effort when the teams meet for Sunday's game #3.

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc was -1 as Rimouski lost in overtime to Gatineau, 3-2. The 18-year old rearguard was on the receiving end of a vicious hit from behind midway through the first period after advancing the puck at his blueline (below). Piques forward earned a five-minute boarding major on the play. The series will resume Tuesday with Gatineau holding a 2-0 lead.

Cedrick Henley was unable to score as Val-d'Or lost to Quebec, 6-4. The Foreurs now trail the bes-of-seven 2-0, with game #3 set for Tuesday.

At the NCAA Tournament, Connor Knapp served as back-up as top-seed Miami lost in the Northeast regional semi-final to New Hampshire, 2-1. The junior metminder ends his season with a record of 8-5-4 in 17 appearances with a 2.03 goals against average and .909 save percentage. Senior UFA Andy Miele failed to get a point, ending his 17-game point streak, to finish the year with a line of 24-47-71 in just 39 games. Given the fact that he plays center, it's basically no-brainer that the Sabres make an attempt to sign the creative talent.

In other NCAA action, Brad Eidsness served as back-up as North Dakota advanced to the Midwest regional final with a 6-0 ripping of RPI. The Sioux move on to face familiar foe Denver Sunday with a Frozen Four berth on the line.

In the USHL, Christian Isackson recorded a shot on goal as Sioux Falls was blanked by Sioux City, 2-0.
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