4/17 Recap: Kassian pots turkey as Spits advance

Zack Kassian notched his first career playoff hat trick Sunday to lead Windsor to a 5-0 victory over Saginaw and a berth in the OHL's Western Conference Final. Kassian, who had just two goals in 12 games heading into the game #6, book-ended the first period with a fight 1:12 in and a snipe from the slot with 43-seconds remaining. Kassian's tilt with Anthony Camara marked the second time in the series that the pair dropped the gloves in the opening moments of a game.

I've mentioned it before, but Kassian has had a bi-polar post-season, at times being unstoppable and at others disinterested and detached. The Sabres are going to need to find ways to keep him hungry. However, Sunday was one of those games where he was engaged and ready to compete. He was excellent in the middle frame especially, cycling well to keep the Spirit pinned deep in their end while using his command of the puck and passing ability to create chances for his teammates. At 8:58, Kassian was sprung on a break by Kenny Ryan, faking forehand and then burying a backhand for his second goal of the night to give the Spits the 3-0 lead. The 6'3 completed the hat trick in the third period when his spin-and-fire shot from along the boards made it in the Spirit net. Kassian now has 14 points (5+9) through the first two playoff rounds. The Spits will begin the OHL Western Conference Final Tuesday in Owen Sound.

In the WHL, Riley Boychuk was injured early and did not return as Portland defeated Kelowna, 4-2, to advance to the WHL Western Conference Final. The 6'5 forward looked to be shaken up after taking a first period hit, and until we hear other wise will be considered "day-to-day with an upper body injury". The Winterhawks will open the conference final series Friday on home-ice against the winner of Tri-City/Spokane.

Matt MacKenzie was even as Tri-City lost in overtime to Spokane, 3-2. Trailing the series 3-2, the Americans will look to keep their season alive Tuesday night in Spokane.

In the USHL, Christian Isackson posted an assist as Sioux Falls advanced to the second round of the USHL playoffs with a 5-3 win over Sioux City. A three-goal catalyst in the Herd's first two games, the 6'0 forward was in the box for a high-sticking infraction when the Musketeers scored their first goal. The well-oiled Stampede will continue their quest for the Clark Cup with Wednesday's game #1 at Omaha.
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