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12/30 Recap: Armia scores; forwards produce

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, December 31, 2011 | 12/31/2011

In Friday World Junior Championship action, Joel Armia scored his third of the tournament as Finland racked up the goals in 10-1 blowout of Denmark. Armia worked along the boards to help the Finns to their first mark (clip #1) before later burying a backhand with the game getting out of hand. The 6'3 wing now has three goals in three tourney games. Finland completes pool play on Saturday versus the Czechs.



In the QMJHL, Cedrick Henley scored a pair of goals and an assist as Val-d'Or nearly completed a third period comeback in a 6-5 loss to Rouyn-Noranda. The power forward project now has eight goals and 21 points in 28 games. The three-point night was the second of his season and third of his QMJHL career.

Kevin Sundher scored a goal and two assists as Victoria was edged by Portland, 7-6. The six-footer, who is tied for 4th in WHL scoring with 60 points (22+38), has gathered 12 of those over his current nine-game point streak.



Dan Catenacci scored the lone Attack goal, his 20th of the year, as Owen Sound lost to Kitchener, 3-1. Catenacci, who marked to give the Attack a 1-0 lead at 12:54 of the opening frame, has five points (4+1) in four games against the Rangers this season.



Jerome Gauthier-Leduc notched an assist as Rimouski earned a 3-0 shutout of Quebec. The QMJHL's leading defensive point-getter and 10th leading scorer overall (20+32), Leduc closes December with five goals and seven assists in nine outings.

Steven Shipley (-1) saw his career-best six-game point streak come to an end in Niagara's 6-5 shootout win over Mississauga. The IceDogs coughed up leads of 4-0 and 5-2 before finally icing the win in the tiebreaker.

Colin Jacobs did not score as Seattle downed Moose Jaw, 2-0. Still finding his legs after a lengthy recovery from a shoulder injury, Jacobs has gone without a point in his last three games.

Nathan Lieuwen was given the night off as Kootenay lost in the shootout to Spokane, 3-2. The 6'5 netminder got off to a hot start in 2011-12 but is likely looking forward to flipping the calendar after going 2-5 with a 3.56 goals against average and .876 save percentage in the month of December.

In the college ranks, Drew MacKenzie notched an assist to up his point streak to four games as Vermont defeated Ferris State, 4-2. After getting held off the scoresheet in his first two games, the 6'2 lefty has collected points in 10 of his last 14 for the lowly Catamounts.

Christian Isackson (+1) recorded four shots on goal while centering Zach Budish and Nick Larson as Minnesota rolled over Niagara, 5-1. The Gophers, playing without world junior participants Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, outshot the Purple Eagles by a 43-21 margin.

Justin Jokinen picked up an assist as Minnesota State skated to a 3-3 exhibition tie with the U.S. U18 squad. The 6'3 senior has scored two goals in 20 games this season for the Mavericks.

Brad Eidsness served as backup as North Dakota and Harvard played to a 4-4 tie. With Aaron Dell allowing four goals on 18 shots, perhaps Eidsness gets tabbed for Saturday's rematch after a solid showing before the break.

***

In Friday night AHL action, Rochester packed it in with over 9,700 fans but the Amerks came up short with a 5-4 loss to division rival Hamilton. The Amerks got goals form Mark Voakes, Phil Varone, Derek Whitmore, and Paul Szczechura before Bulldogs forward Mitch Wahl broke a 4-4 tie on the power play at 7:44 of the third period.

The Rundown:
Brennan: A, +1, 7 SOG
Foligno: A, 4 SOG
Schiestel: A
Lagace: 1 SOG
Biega: 4 SOG
Persson: -1
Szydlowski: -1
Crawford: 1 SOG
12/31/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres sign Leduc

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, December 30, 2011 | 12/30/2011

The Sabres announced on Friday that they have agreed to terms with Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (2010, 3rd round) on a three-year entry-level contract. An offensive-minded defenseman, Leduc currently leads all Canadian junior rearguards with 20 goals and 51 points through 35 games. (The second highest goal total to date is just 12, owned by 17-year old Ryan Pulock of the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings.)

From the Sabres release:

“Jerome has continued to improve as a player since we selected him [in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft],” Regier said. “His play in Rimouski this season demonstrates the offensive abilities that he possesses.”

Gauthier-Leduc (6’1”, 188 lbs., 7/30/92) currently ranks 12th among all QMJHL skaters with 51 points (20+31) in 35 games. Gauthier-Leduc’s 51 points give him a wide lead in scoring among QMJHL defensemen – 14 more than the next closest blueliner. His nine power play goals tie him for sixth among QMJHL skaters.

In June, Gauthier-Leduc was invited to Team Canada’s National Junior Team Development Camp. He followed that up by opening the 2011-12 season on a 12-game point streak, during which he recorded 26 points (11+15). In the midst of that streak, Gauthier-Leduc scored a goal in eight consecutive games, breaking the 31-year-old QMJHL record for defensemen set in the 1970-80 season by Gaston Therrien.


A deadly right-handed shooter, Leduc's offensive skill set adds to the same side of the blueline addressed by the Sabres in recent years with the development of fellow righthanders Tyler Myers and Mark Pysyk. View the playlist below to check out the number of goals he has scored via point blasts this year:



The Leduc signing means that the Sabres have now inked their first four picks from the 2010 draft (Pysyk - 23rd, Leduc - 68th, Sundher - 75th, M. MacKenzie - 83rd).
12/30/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/29 Recap: Defenders score; Pysyk steady

Alex Lepkowski scored his fourth goal of the year Thursday as Barrie earned a 4-3 shootout win over Brampton. The 6'4 defender has seven points in 22 games this season. Entering the year, he had seven points in 92 career OHL tilts. Colts forward Gregg Sutch did not play after being scratched with a head injury.

Nathan Lieuwen made 21 saves as Kootenay stumbled to a 4-2 loss at Red Deer. Despite winning just two of his last eight starts, the 6'5 netminder remains among WHL leaders with a 2.18 goals against average (2nd) and .923 save percentage (3rd).

At the Catamount Cup, Drew MacKenzie scored late on the power play as host Vermont continued their disappointing year with a 5-3 loss to Lake Superior State. The senior defenseman has five goals through his first 15 games. Last year, MacKenzie scored five times in 34 contests.



At the 2012 World Junior Championship, Mark Pysyk (+1, 1 SOG) was unable to get in on the scoring as Canada blew past Denmark, 10-2. Through three tourney games, Pysyk is +4 with three shots on goal while being one of two Canadian skaters who has yet to record a point in the tourney (Jamie Oleksiak the other).
12/30/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/28 Recap: Leduc gets 20th; Lagace leads Amerks

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, December 29, 2011 | 12/29/2011

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored his 20th goal of the year Wednesday as Rimouski lost to Chicoutimi, 6-4. Leduc's 20 goals tie his previous career best set in 2009-10, while his 51 points in 35 games continues to lead all QMJHL rearguards. Rimouski will welcome Quebec to town on Friday.

Gregg Sutch cashed a power play one-timer just 1:28 in but Barrie could not hold on in a 4-2 loss to Sudbury. Sutch now has seven goals and 15 points in 34 games. Barrie defenseman Alex Lepkowski finished the night at -2. The Colts, playing without forwards Mark Scheifele and Tanner Pearson who are away with Team Canada, will host Brampton on Thursday.

Cedrick Henley tested out his recently healed thumb by logging his third fighting major of the year in Val-d'Or's 5-3 loss to Gatineau. Henley, who also earned an instigator and misconduct on the play, will look for his first point since November 18th on Friday when the Foreurs host Rouyn-Noranda.



Steven Shipley picked up a power play assist in his old barn as Niagara edged Owen Sound, 2-1. The helper gives the 6'3 forward a new career high with points in six straight games. Shipley scored 39 goals and 102 points with the Attack from 2008-2010. Dan Catenacci assisted on the lone Attack tally to give him 41 points on the year. The IceDogs move on to face Mississauga on Friday. The Attack will travel to Kitchener.





Kevin Sundher notched two assists to extend his season-high point streak to eight games as Victoria was doubled by Portland, 6-3. Sundher, who has 19 multi-point efforts this season, has amassed 21 goals and 57 points in 36 games. The Royals will look to avenge the loss when the clubs play it back on Friday.





Colin Jacobs was -1 with a shootout miss as Seattle lost to Everett, 4-3. Jacobs now has two goals, an assist, and a -4 rating in seven games since returning from shoulder surgery. Seattle will host Moose Jaw on Friday.

***

At the World Junior Championship, Mark Pysyk was +1 as Canada pitched a 5-0 shutout over the Czech Republic. The steady defender saw time with Nathan Beaulieu and Jamie Oleksiak on the Nats bottom pair. Canada will to keep their winning streak in tact on Friday against Denmark.

***

In AHL play, the Amerks rode a two-goal night from Jacob Lagace to their second straight win over the Barons, 4-3 in a shootout. Lagace added a mark in the shootout, while Jonathan Parker and T.J. Brennan (winner) also scored in the deciding frame to ice the victory.

Brennan also scored in regulation to give him six goals on the year and a six-game point streak heading into Friday's tilt with Hamilton.

Marcus Foligno and Phil Varone each contributed a pair of assists for the Amerks (15-12-4-1).





The Rundown:
Lagace: 2G, SHO G, 5 SOG, +3
Brennan: G, SHO GWG, 5 SOG
Foligno: 2A, +3
Parker: SHO G
Schiestel: A, +2
Biega: A, -1, 2 SOG
Crawford: even
Boychuk: 4 PIM
Szydlowski: -1
Persson: +2
12/29/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Armia shines as Finns win

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | 12/28/2011

Joel Armia scored two goals including the game winner Wednesday and added an assist as Finland shook off a loss in their World Junior Championship opener with a 4-1 victory over Team USA. The win was the Finns first over the Americans in six years at the U20 tourney.

Armia (#10) was excellent in keying the Finnish offense. After a scoreless first, the 6'3 wing absorbed a hit to advance the puck deep, went to the front of the net, and won a battle below the goal line against two USA defenders to assist on Finland's first goal just 81 seconds into the middle frame.

After USA tied the game in the early third, Armia would show deadly transition skills by accepting a pass and gaining enough separation to break in and score the game winner while using his left knee to thwart off the backcheck.

The big wing capped his performance with an insurance marker at 16:27 by jamming a loose puck underneath John Gibson and into the American net. Armia started the play with a nice effort on the boards to free up the puck before drifting to the net and tapping in the area pass. 



Armia, who now has two goals, an assist, two shots on goal, and a +3 rating through the first two tourney games, will look to continue his offensive stacking on Friday when the Finns take on Denmark.
12/28/2011 | 2 comments | Read More

Schiestel's OT mark seals Amerks win

Drew Schiestel scored on the power play at 3:21 of overtime Tuesday as the Amerks earned a 4-3 win over the AHL's top club, the Oklahoma City Barons. The blast from the point, Schiestel's second goal of the year, added to an earlier assist for his first multi-point game of the season.



Paul Szczechura paced the Amerks with two goals and an assist in his first game back from Buffalo, while Alex Biega scored his third of the season. Biega, who has collected all three of his marks in the last eight games, equals his out from a season ago when he scored 18 points as an AHL rookie with the Portland Pirates.

The Rundown:
Schiestel: GWG, A
Biega: G, +1, 2 SOG
Fienhage: A, +1
Boychuk: +1
Lagace: +1
Parker: 2 SOG
Persson: -1, 2 SOG
Foligno: -1
Crawford: -1
Szydlowski: -1

The Amerks (14-12-4-1) and Barons will play it back on Wednesday.
12/28/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/27 Recap: Jacobs nips Tips in shootout

In Tuesday night WHL action, Colin Jacobs broke a deadlocked game with the only goal in the shootout as Seattle edged Everett, 2-1. Jacobs now has two shootout winners through his first six games of the year since returning from a shoulder injury. The teams will complete the home-and-home Wednesday in Everett.





In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc finished -2 with a shootout miss as Rimouski defeated the CHL's #3 ranked Quebec Remparts by a 4-3 score. The Oceanic will face Chicoutimi on Wednesday before rematching with the Remparts Friday in Rimouski.

Cedrick Henley recorded a shot on goal and five hits in his first game back from injury as Val-d'Or roughed up Rouyn-Noranda, 8-3. The 6'5 power forward had missed the previous eight games with a broken thumb. Les Foreurs travel to Gatineau on Wednesday.

Nathan Lieuwen was given a night off as Kootenay Lethbridge. The 6'5 should return to the nets on Thursday when the ICE takes on Red Deer.

In exhibition action, Drew MacKenzie logged a -1 as Vermont was blown out by the Russian Red Stars, 6-1. The game was a necessary post-break tune-up for Vermont, who opens the Catamount Cup Thursday against Ferris State. RIT and Lake Superior State will square off in the opposite contest.
12/28/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Sabres Prospects 2011-12 Top 10 goals at the break

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 | 12/27/2011

12/27/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

First rounders quiet as Canada rolls Finland

Mark Pysyk finished +2 with two shots on goal Monday as Canada opened the 2012 World Junior Championship with an 8-1 pounding of Finland. The Sabres other prospect playing in the tournament, 2011 first-rounder Joel Armia, logged a disappointing -3 for the Finns.

Pysyk, who was paired with Jamie Oleksiak on Canada's third pair, found himself in an awkward position between the shooter and his own net when Alexander Ruuttu (son of former Sabres forward Christian) scored at 1:21 of the second to halve Canada's lead to 2-1. Aside from that, the 2010 first-rounder was steady in his own zone and made good decisions to support the play up ice.

Armia, who finished without a shot on net, showed flashes of the skill that make him the Sabres' most intriguing offensive prospect but for the most part was ineffective getting things going on Finland's #2 offensive unit. It was good to see him coming back hard late in the game (he prevented Canada from getting a ninth goal with a nice backcheck on Boone Jenner with five minutes to play), but there's no doubt that Sabres scouts want to see him competing harder for loose pucks at even strength as the tourney progresses.



Canada will next square off with the Czechs on Wednesday. Things won't get any easier for the Finns, who will look for their first tournament win by taking on a USA squad that scored 11 goals in their opening night win over Denmark.
12/27/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Baker's dozen thoughts at the break

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, December 25, 2011 | 12/25/2011

It's Christmas Day across the world. While eagerly awaiting the puckdrop for the World Junior Championship and for schedules to resume in the CHL and NCAA ranks, please enjoy some mid-season thoughts. A Baker's Dozen, if you will....

1) Lost in all the 2011 injury madness is the fact that Drew MacIntyre, who stopped 17 of 18 shots over 43-minutes of action in two November appearances, is now the Sabres all-time franchise leader in goals against average (1.40) and save percentage (.944) for goalies who have faced a minimum of one shot on goal while wearing blue and gold.

2) By the way, the injury epidemic hasn’t been limited to just the top club. From the CHL and NCAA ranks alone, Mark Pysyk, Kevin Sundher, Steven Shipley, Alex Lepkowski, Drew MacKenzie, Cedrick Henley, Mark Adams, and Colin Jacobs have all missed time with various dings. The total is roughly 50-man games for the bunch, but when packaged with previous hurts to Paul Szczechura, Drew Schiestel, Dennis Persson, T.J. Brennan, Jon Parker, and Mike Ryan in Rochester and it’s easy to see that the injury bug is a top-to-bottom issue.

3) There are two clear observations you can make about Derek Whitmore – he has seen a lot of hockey, and he likes to shoot.  The 27-year old rookie,  who scored 70 goals in a four-year career at Bowling Green and another 70 in 272 AHL games, has shown solid awareness in his brief term with the Sabres while doing a good job making himself available in the offensive end. Now if folks in Webster could just get his name right...

4) Vermont senior Drew MacKenzie may be one of the better two-way defensemen in Hockey East, but his chances of getting an entry-level deal by the Sabres could still be slim unless some trades are made. Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff, Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera, Jordan Leopold, Mark Pysyk, Brayden McNabb, Matt MacKenzie, Nick Crawford, and Joe Finley are all under contract for next year. Marc-Andre Gragnani, T.J. Brennan, Drew Schiestel, Dennis Persson, and Alex Biega are restricted free agents, while Rimouski ace Jerome Gauthier-Leduc will need to be signed by June 1st.

5) Along with MacKenzie and Leduc, the Sabres will also face contract decisions this summer on Shipley, Henley, Justin Jokinen, Gregg Sutch, Brad Eidsness, and Connor Knapp. There’s a lot on the line in the second half for some of these players, including Henley, who barring a gigantic spike in production could make for a “developmental project” signing. Project in the sense that he could be inked yet still be assigned another year of QMJHL duty as a 20-year old after seeing the bulk of his 2010-11 campaign washed out due to wrist surgery.

6) After getting four points through his first four games, Amerks rookie forward Jonathan Parker has failed to get a point in his last 17 contests. Granted a hand injury caused him to miss three games, but a player brought in because of his shooting ability needs to have more than 18 shots on goal through his first 21 professional games.

7) Maybe there is something to Shipley needing to be “the man” wherever he plays. After asking out of Owen Sound a year ago because he didn’t want to play second fiddle to Joey Hishon, Shipley was mired in mediocrity in Niagara for a season-and-a-half until recently when four teammates (Ryan Strome, Freddie and Dougie Hamilton, Mark Visentin) left for the 2012 World Juniors. In their absence thus far, the 2010 fourth rounder has collected goals in four straight games, points in five straight (5+6), and a +4 rating. He’ll play at least three more games on the Dogs top line while his teammates skate with Team Canada.

8) I know a few people who were upset when the Sabres didn’t offer a contract to Andrew Orpik (2005, 7th round) when he completed his years at Boston College. After two years of drifting between the AHL and the coast league, Orpik hung up his skates this season after receiving a job offer he couldn’t refuse back in Beantown.

9) My guess is that the Sabres knew on November 1st that they needed to lock Sundher up to an early bird signing. It was on that date in 2010 that they inked ‘09 first-rounder Zack Kassian after watching him stack seven goals and 20 points through his first 11 games in Windsor. Through October of this season, Sundher had amassed an equally impressive 11 goals and 32 points (17 games).  

10) The Sabres did not have a single prospect hit either of the 30-goal and 80-point plateaus last year. This year it looks they could have three who hit both – Sundher, Leduc, and Daniel Catenacci.

11) Leduc currently leads all CHL defensemen with 19 goals and 50 points. His next closest competitor, Dougie Hamilton of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, checks in with 12 goals and 45 points. Leduc is fleet of foot and can pound the puck, but his own-zone abilities weren’t enough to make it past the initial cuts for Team Canada.

12) Catenacci, who enters the break with 19 goals and 40 points, is worth some special second half attention due to his previous body of work.  The speedy center shot out of the gates a season ago with 18 goals and 45 points at the holiday break, but scored just 23 points in 30 games after January 1st.

13) Assuming Joel Armia plays out the final year of his contract with SM-liiga’s Assat Pori, he’ll be 20-years of age when the Sabres can look to get him over to North America.  Scanning the list of Finland’s all-time great forwards in relation to their age when making the jump, you can see why the Sabres don’t need to bring him over as a teenager: Jari Kurri (20), Olli Jokinen (20), Saku Koivu (21), Mikko Koivu (21), Teemu Selanne (22), Jere Lehtinen (22). I'm ok with a 2013-14 arrival.

Wishing you and yours a safe and joyous holiday season. Thank you for making SabresProspects part of your hockey news routine!
12/25/2011 | 4 comments | Read More

Pysyk quiet in Canada loss

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, December 24, 2011 | 12/24/2011

Mark Pysyk did not factor into the scoring Friday as Canada closed out the 2012 World Junior pre-competition schedule with a 5-3 loss to Sweden. With a 2-1 mark in the exhibitions, Canada will now retreat and look to fix their team defense in support of a blueline featuring seven tournament rookies (including Pysyk).

After Blues prospect Jaden Schwartz put Canada ahead 1-0 with eight minutes left in the first, Sweden stormed back to get three goals in the final three minutes of the period to take the lead into the intermission.

The Swedes would add another tally at 2:58 of the second before Ottawa prospect Mika Zibanejad capped the scoring in the game's final minute with his second of the night into an empty net.

It's still unclear as to the role Pysyk will play for Team Canada, but his smarts and feet should be an asset when the pucks start flying on the 26th.
12/24/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Pysyk looking to establish himself on Canadian blue

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, December 23, 2011 | 12/23/2011

Mark Pysyk was unable to crack the scoresheet Thursday as Canada continued their World Junior Championship pre-competition schedule with a 7-1 trouncing of Switzerland.

The 6'2 Pysyk, who absorbed an early jolt that nearly sent him into the Swiss bench, missed his check off a rebound on the lone Swiss goal in the first period, and seemed to see his minutes decrease as the game progressed. Granted Canada likely planned to get all seven dressed defenders some action, but many are wondering if the 2010 first-rounder will find himself in a battle for playing time when round robin play begins on the 26th.

Pysyk will look to affirm his top-six stature on Friday when Canada completes their exhibition run versus Sweden.
12/23/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Armia finds net as Finns tune up

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, December 22, 2011 | 12/22/2011

Joel Armia scored a goal Wednesday as Finland completed their World Junior Championship pre-work with a 3-0 win over Slovakia. The 6'3 wing scored the game's final goal when he accepted a pass from Miikka Salomaki and flipped it over the Slovakina netminder. Finland opens the 2012 World Junior Championship on the 26th versus Canada.
12/22/2011 | 3 comments | Read More

Sabres Prospects Three Stars of the Week (12/18/2011)

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, December 19, 2011 | 12/19/2011

12/19/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/17 Recap: Ship on course heading into break

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, December 18, 2011 | 12/18/2011

Steven Shipley scored a goal and an assist Saturday as Niagara downed Sudbury, 3-1. The game's #2 star, Shipley now has goals in four straight games while collecting 11 of his 24 points this season during his current five-game point streak. Niagara is now off until the 28th when they face Owen Sound.



Alex Lepkowski scored his third goal of the year as Barrie lost to Ottawa, 6-4. Gregg Sutch assisted on the Lepkowski tally, his 12th point of the season, to end a four-game point drought. The Colts will battle Peterborough on Sunday before heading home for the Christmas break.

Colin Jacobs scored his second goal of the season as Seattle lost their handle in a 5-3 loss to Tri-City. Jacobs, who now has three points in five games since returning form injury, buried a one-timer to give the T-Birds a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission. The game would turn from there with the Ams scoring five straight goals in the final twenty minutes to show why they're the CHL's #2 ranked team. Seattle returns from the holiday break for a home-and-home series with Everett starting on the 27th.



Jerome Gauthier-Leduc finished +4 with an an assist as Rimouski edged PEI, 6-5. The mobile righty enters the break with an even 50 points (19+31), good for first among all QMJHL defenders. Rimouski visits Quebec City on the 27th to tangle with the league-leading Remparts.

Kevin Sundher notched an assist to extend his point streak to seven games as Victoria was clipped by Medicine Hat, 4-2. The recently inked center enters the holiday break as the WHL's fifth leading scorer with 55 points (21+34) in 35 games. The Royals will next face Portland on the 28th.

Dan Catenacci saw his five-game point streak come to an end as Owen Sound downed Kitchener, 3-1. The speedy center enters the midway point with 40 points (19+21). Owen Sound will next welcome the IceDogs to town on the 28th.

Justin Jokinen contributed two shots on goal as Minnesota State was defeated by Colorado College, 6-2. The senior has added a spark down the middle despite going seven games without a goal. The Mavs, who have now lost nine straight WCHA contests, will host the U.S. NTDP for an exhibition on the 30th.

Drew MacKenzie drew a power play assist in Vermont's 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence. The two-way senior defenseman has four goals and four assists in 14 games. Vermont will next face the Russian Red Stars in an exhibition on the 27th.



Brad Eidsness stopped all 14 shots he faced as North Dakota earned a 5-1 exhibition win over the Russian Red Stars. The Sioux will return from the Christmas break with a non-conference set against Harvard Dec. 30-31.
12/18/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/16 Recap: Leduc leads Nics; streaks extend

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, December 17, 2011 | 12/17/2011

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc scored his 19th goal of the year and added an assist Friday as Rimouski rocked Chicoutimi, 6-1. The defender, who earned the game's #2 star in his first game back from Canada's world junior camp, struck with a pair of power play points just 55-seconds apart in the second period. The Nics welcome PEI to town on Saturday.



Dan Catenacci extended his season-high point streak to five games by earning an assist as Owen Sound lost at Sarnia, 5-3. The helper puts Catenacci at the 40-point mark (19+21) through his first 35 games. The Attack hosts Kitchener on Saturday.



In WHL play, Kevin Sundher earned an assist as Victoria was stopped in overtime by Lethbridge, 5-4. With 54 points through 34 games, Sundher remains on pace for a 100-point season. The nifty six-footer will look to make it points in seven straight when the Royals take on visit Medicine Hat on Saturday.

Nathan Lieuwen made 28 saves as Kootenay won in the shootout over Swift Current, 5-4. The slumping netminder gets the win to slightly improve his December numbers to a 3.48 goals against average and .881 save percentage in seven contests. Kootenay will now enter the holiday break with their next game set for Tuesday, December 27th against Lethbridge.

Colin Jacobs finished -2 as Seattle was defeated by a strong Tri-City club, 5-1. Jacobs earned a 10-minute misconduct early as poor discipline dogged the T-Birds. The two clubs will complete the home-and-home in Seattle on Saturday.

Justin Jokinen finished even as Minnesota State lost in overtime to Colorado College, 2-1. The senior looks set for the second half of the season after putting together a nice stretch of games at center leading up to the break. The two clubs will play it back on Saturday.
12/17/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/15 Recap: Ship carries load; Sundher signs

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, December 16, 2011 | 12/16/2011

Steven Shipley tied a career high Thursday by collecting four points (1+3) as Niagara smoked Erie, 7-0. The 6'3 center, whose line with Andrew Agozzino and David Pacan combined for 12 points, ties a season best by extending his point streak to four games. Earlier in the day, a tweet was posted that was clearly addressed.




The IceDogs return to action Saturday versus Sudbury.

Elsewhere in the OHL, Dan Catenacci posted a goal, an assist, and a career-best +4 rating as Owen Sound downed Windsor, 6-4.  Like Niagara's Shipley, the 5'10 speedster will look to extend his point streak to five games when the Attack travels to Sarnia on Friday.



Alex Lepkowski and Gregg Sutch were unable to get on the scoresheet as Barrie edged Mississauga, 2-1. The Colts will host Ottawa on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Kevin Sundher collected an assist as Victoria was doubled by Edmonton, 6-3. The Surrey native will look to make it points in six straight when the Royals visit Lethbridge on Friday.

***

The Sabres announced Thursday that they have signed Sundher to a three-year entry-level deal. The second of three third-round picks at the 2010 draft (75th overall), Sundher's quick start this season has seen him rise to become the all-time points leader for the WHL's Chilliwack/Victoria franchise.

From the Sabres website:

“Kevin’s a very good skater, whose offensive abilities make him a natural fit for our organization,” Regier said. “With his progression over the last few seasons, his fast start this year is a very positive sign for his development.”

Sundher (5’11”, 184 lbs., 1/18/92), in his fifth season in the Western Hockey League, is ranked sixth in the league in scoring with 52 points (21+31) in 32 games as a member of the Victoria Royals. In 247 WHL games with Victoria and the Chilliwack Bruins, Sundher has accumulated 229 points (89+140) and 294 penalty minutes.

The native of Surrey, British Columbia has improved his point totals in each of his five WHL seasons, finishing the 2010-11 campaign with career highs in points (76) and assists (52).

Here is Sundher's profile from the Spring 2011 Prospect Rankings:


10) Kevin Sundher, C, Chilliwack Bruins (WHL), 2010 3rd round (75th overall)

Readers of this site knew who Kevin Sundher was before this season. Listed in the 2010 Draft Preview as my second option for the Sabres at #75, and seeing how my primary option (Minnesota C Max Gardiner) went at pick #74, it's safe to say I was happy when the Sabres landed Sundher with the 75th pick.

A highly touted player coming out of the bantam ranks, the 6'0, 193-pound pivot skated with a target on his back for two seasons for the sub-.500 Bruins, racking up 44 goals and an even 100 points before the Sabres even drafted him. The Surrey, B.C. native continued his trend in 2010-11, overcoming a slow start to finish 3rd in scoring for the Bruins with 24 goals and 52 assists (t15th in WHL). 

Sundher really turned it on from late-October through early December, amassing 24 points in a 15-game stretch. In February, he collected points in 11-straight games to tie Kassian and McNabb for the longest streak of the season. With the year's momentum carrying into the postseason (3+4 in 5GP), it's reasonable to suggest that a quick start next season sees the playmaker become the third member of the class of 2010 to earn Team Canada consideration.

Sundher, who will skate for the relocated Victoria franchise in 2011-12, rates well in four key competencies required of a successful NHL forward – strength, smarts, skill, and determination. He is a gifted passer and an above average stickhandler, so now what you need to see is more tenacity. This isn't to say he's "passive", but given the Sabres need for natural centers to develop quickly, playing with more fire in his belly will accelerate his progress as he moves up a level against bigger players of equal talent.


Lastly, enjoy a quick playlist of Sundher in action this season.


12/16/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Pysyk to play for Canada

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | 12/14/2011

Congratulations to Sabres 2010 first-rounder Mark Pysyk for being being chosen to represent Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship. The 19-year old Edmonton native joins Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam, Zack Kassian, and Marcus Foligno as recent Sabres prospects to skate for Canada's National Junior team at the prestigious under-20 event.

Pysyk (6'2, 188 pounds) has served as captain of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings for the past two years. In 25 games this season, the right-hander has scored two goals and 18 points while gathering 47 penalty minutes and a +6 rating.

Missing the chance to skate in his future home arena as a final cut for the 2011 tourney in Buffalo, the steady leader now gets an opportunity to sport the maple leaf sweater in his hometown, in the very rink he's called home for the past four years - Rexall Place - home of the Oil Kings and NHL's Oilers.

Canada will make their tournament debut the day after Christmas when they take on Team Finland, which will feature Sabres 2011 first round pick Joel Armia as a top-six weapon.
12/14/2011 | 8 comments | Read More

12/13 Recap: Lieuwen takes loss; Pysyk waits

Nathan Lieuwen stopped 26 shots Tuesday as Kootenay lost to Red Deer, 4-2. It wasn't the sharpest of efforts from Lieuwen, as the big backstop allowed the first Rebels goal from behind the net and the fourth after he misplayed a puck off the endboards. With the win, the Rebels snap a franchise record 13-game losing streak. Kootenay returns to action Friday when they host Swift Current.

Colin Jacobs picked up an empty-net assist as Seattle shut out Vancouver, 3-0. The game was scoreless for over 55-minutes before the T-Birds struck for three goals down the stretch to earn their second win in a row. With the helper, Jacobs now has two points and a shootout winner in three games. Jacobs will look for points in three straight when the Thunderbirds travel to Kennewick on Friday to take on the Americans.

At Team Canada's World Junior Junior Selection Camp, Mark Pysyk recorded two penalty minutes on a pair with London Knights defender Scott Harrington as the U20 hopefuls defeated the CIS All-Stars, 7-4. The CIS squad was comprised of players from the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge. A final cut for the 2011 squad, Pysyk will now wait as Canada announces their final roster on Wednesday morning.
12/14/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Leduc lopped; Pysyk's prospects improve

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | 12/13/2011

Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc arrived in Calgary Saturday along with 39 others for the start of Hockey Canada's 2012 World Junior Selection Camp and the final leg in achieving a dream of every kid who ever laces them up in the Great White North.

After two scrimmages and a round of cuts, one Sabres prospect remains.

A favorite to crack Canada's top-six entering camp, Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk has continued his steady play through the Red/White tilts, maintaining good gaps and showing his smarts in all three zones while paired with Joe Morrow (game #1) and Nathan Beaulieu (game #2).

Pysyk generally limits his mistakes, making him the perfect type of rearguard for tournament play, but he did commit a turnover early that resulted in a power play opportunity for Team Red early in Sunday's contest. He did not earn a point in either game, but was on the ice for one goal against (right D #5 below - excuse poor quality).



As a whole it appears that the benching he received last week against Calgary (for play demmed "selfish" by EDM bench boss Derek Laxdal) has paid some dividends. Pysyk's feet and aptitude have stood out as they do on most nights. He simply looks bigger, stronger, and more ready than he was a season ago, likely solidifying his spot on the team as a solid minute-eater.

Unlike Pysyk who has a more complete two-way package, fellow White blueliner Leduc was brought to camp for one reason - offense. Leduc (#3), a mobile righty who leads all Canadian major-junior defensemen with 47 points, used his cannon shot to get an assist on the game winning goal in White's 3-2 opening night win on Sunday.



Leduc would again show his shot in White's 2-0 loss in game #2, firing a hard slapper off the pipe near the end of the game that resulted in him defending a 2x1 going back the other way (taking the pass away, leaving the goalie to take the shooter).



However when the calls were made Tuesday morning as Canada cut their roster down, Leduc was among the first to get sent home.

Given the depth of competition, the move was not surprising. Canada has some well-rounded options who can carry the full-time luggage, and it was going to be a hard sell putting Leduc in the top six.

Scanning the pool of candidates in the weeks leading up to camp, Leduc seemed more like an ideal #7 than a top-six guy; an ace offensive catalyst who can breathe life into a power play but likely not sturdy enough defensively for a leading role. Through two games he did little to separate himself from the pack.
Leduc's offensive package comes with some uneven play in his own zone that can make for some adventurous shifts. He can get in trouble against physical forwards, and can sometimes get ambitious with the puck as evidenced by an egregious turnover in game #2 that resulted in his defensive partner going to the box for tripping.

A season ago, the Sabres had four players at Canada's camp - Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno, Pysyk, and Brayden McNabb. Kassian and Foligno made the squad while Pysyk made it to final cuts. McNabb was among the first to get the axe, and proceeded to go on a tear with points in seven straight games as Kootenay started its run to the Memorial Cup.
12/13/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Amerks fall in OT

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, December 11, 2011 | 12/11/2011

ECHL call-up Evan Rankin continued to state his AHL case Saturday, scoring both of the Amerks goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Adirondack. The 25-year old Rankin has four goals and two assists in seven games since being recalled from Toldeo, where he piled 10 goals in 15 contests for the Walleyes. The 6'1 196-pound wing had just 20 goals in a four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame.



Phil Varone assisted on both Rankin tallies, while Marcus Foligno added a single helper for his 12th point of the year.

The Rundown:
Foligno: A, +1, 1 SOG
Biega: +1, 2 SOG
Brennan: -1, 3 SOG
Crawford: 2 PIM
Persson: -1, 3 SOG
Parker: 1 SOG
Boychuk: 2 SOG
Schiestel: 1 SOG, 4 PIM
Lagace: -1, 2 SOG

The Amerks (11-10-3-1) travel to Hamilton for a Sunday afternoon tilt.

***

Playing a bit of a catch-up from last week...

Foligno earned his second fighting major the year Saturday (12/3) when he took on Ian Schultz in the Amerks 4-2 loss to Hamilton.



The following night, he'd score his of eighth the season in the Amerks 4-2 loss at Albany (12/4).



Third-year man Drew Schiestel would complete the Amerks scoring in the loss with his first goal of the year.

12/11/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/10 Recap: CoJac is back

In Saturday WHL play, Colin Jacobs scored a regulation goal and then the shootout game winner to guide Seattle to a 4-3 win over Victoria. Jacobs, who was playing just his second game of the season after missing the first 26 with a shoulder injury, notched his first goal of the season at 10:20 of the middle frame to give the Birds a 3-0 lead. Kevin Sundher clicked for a pair of third period assists as the Royals battled back from the deficit to force extra time. The T-Birds welcome Vancouver to town on Tuesday, while the Royals battle Edmonton on Wednesday.



Badger freshman Brad Navin scored his second goal of the season and added an assist as Wisconsin was beaten by #1 Minnesota-Duluth, 4-2. With 7:19 to play, the freshman lit the lamp on the power play for the second time in as many nights to end the Bulldogs shutout bid. Navin assisted on the Badgers final goal of the night, again with the man advantage, with 2:30 left in regulation. Wisconsin is off until New Year's Eve when they host Team USA U18 for an exhibition in Madison.

Steve Shipley scored his eighth goal of the season as Niagara came up short against Kingston, 3-2. After the Fronts opened scoring at 1:10 of the first period, Shipley replied just nine seconds later to tie the game. The 6'3 center now has goals in two straight for the first time this season to give him eight goals and 18 points and a -11 rating in 28 games. Shipley will look to extend his point streak to four games Thursday when the IceDogs host Erie.



Nathan Lieuwen made 31 saves as Kootenay scored a late power play goal to overcome Medicine Hat, 3-2. The win was Lieuwen's first in five December appearances. The ICE will host Red Deer on Tuesday.

Dan Catenacci notched an assist as Owen Sound pounded Guelph, 6-1. Catenacci is currently tied for 15th in OHL scoring with 37 points (18+19). The Attack return to action Thursday at Windsor.



Gregg Sutch and Alex Lepkowski each finished -1 with a minor penalty (Sutch for an unsportsmanlike and Lepkowski for a check to the head) as Barrie was defeated by Brampton, 4-1. The Colts will tangle with Sutch's former club, the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors, on Thursday.

Justin Jokinen picked up an assist to go along with four shots on goal as Minnesota State pummeled Alabama-Huntsville, 9-1. Jokinen and the Mavs will sandwich in a WCHA set with Colorado College next weekend before enjoying a holiday break.

Christian Isackson (+1) punched three shots on goal in fourth-line minutes as Minnesota hammered Michigan Tech, 6-2. The freshman nearly connected on his first NCAA goal in the opening period but somehow missed the open net as the line's hard work drew a penalty. The Gophers are off until December 30th when they play Niagara in the first round of the Mariucci Classic.

Connor Knapp watched as Miami lost in overtime to #4 Ohio State, 3-2. The 6'6 senior heads into the break with a 3-4 record, 2.70 goals against average, and .896 save percentage in six starts.

Bead Eidnsess did not play as #19 North Dakota pitched a 1-0 shutout of Nebraska-Omaha. The senior stopper has started just two games thus far for the Sioux en route to posting a 3-1 record, a 2.43 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage. North Dakota will play an exhibition tilt with the Russian Red Stars next Saturday before starting their holiday break.
12/11/2011 | 1 comments | Read More

Armia swaggers up for World Junior stage

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, December 10, 2011 | 12/10/2011

Joel Armia scored the game winning goal Saturday and added an assist as Assat downed the Blues, 5-3. After the pressure of heightened expectations caused a slow start to the year, the flashy 6'3 wing is heating up with six goals and five assists in his last dozen games on the eve of the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Armia earned his first point, an assist, by tipping a shot near the paint that was immediately fired into the net by Tuomas Santavuori to gives the Aces a 3-1 lead at 5:59 of the second period.



Nearly five minutes later, Armia would pot the game winner on a power play by pouncing on a rebound in the slot for his eighth goal of the year.



The multi-point effort, his second of the season and second in his last five outings, gives the 2011 first-rounder 18 points through his first 31 games.

With Assat now breaking for the holidays, the 18-year old sniper will join Team Finalnd in preparation for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Armia will be set up to succeed at the tourney, as his soft hands and sniping ability will be surrounded by a talented flock of Finnish forwards that includes Mikael and Markus Granlund, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Joonas Donskoi. The loaded top-six could propel the Finns to a medal, making for some compelling round-robin matchups.

Armia showed promise at last year's World Juniors (one assist) before later blossoming last spring with four goals and 13 points at the U18s in Germany. There's no question he'll be counted on in the tourney to leverage his size and hands to collect goals down low. The Fins will play a couple of pre-competition games in Alberta before opening the tournament on the 26th against Canada.
12/10/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/9 Recap: Sundher, Shipley produce; Navin pots first

Kevin Sundher snagged two goals and two assists Friday to lead Victoria to an 8-5 win over Lethbridge. The four-point outing, Sundher's fourth this season, gives the six-foot center 21 goals and an even 50 points in 31 games - good for 6th overall in WHL scoring. The Royals, who snapped three-game losing streak with the win, will face slumping Seattle on Saturday.


Steven Shipley scored two goals including the game winner and added an assist as Niagara downed Mississauga, 5-3. The 6'3 Shipley, who improves his season production to seven goals and 10 assists while skating on the Dog's top line with Ryan Strome and Freddie Hamilton, has points in two straight games for just the second time this season (he had one four-game point streak that extended into early October). Niagara tangles with Kingston on Saturday.


Brad Navin scored his first NCAA goal as Wisconsin skated to a 3-3 tie with #1 Minnesota-Duluth. The freshman forward put the Badgers on the board with a power play deflection in front of the Bulldogs net at 5:49 of the opening frame. The two clubs will play what should be an exciting rematch on Saturday.



In Finland, Joel Armia assisted on the lone Assat goal in a 3-1 loss to Tappara. Armia, who will play in Saturday's contest against the Blues before joining the Finnish national junior squad, played 11:21 in the loss.


Alex Lepkowski finished +2 as Barrie handled Guelph, 8-5. Gregg Sutch, who was shaken up when pulled to the ice late in the 2nd period, finished -1 for the Colts. Trailing 4-0 in the third, the Storm erupted for four goals in a span of 1:09 to make for a tighter final ten minutes. The Colts host Brampton on Saturday.


Jerome Gauthier-Leduc notched an assist and a season-low -3 rating as Rimouski lost at Victoriaiville, 5-3. The QMJHL's leading scorer among defensemen with 18 goals and 47 points, Leduc will travel across the continent on Saturday to skate in Team Canada's World Junior Selection Camp.


Nathan Lieuwen allowed a goal on his first shot of the game and went allow to all three more before getting the hook as Kootenay lost to Medicine Hat, 6-4. Lieuwen made 13 saves before leaving the game with the ICE trailing at 6:20 of the second period. The teams will return to Medicine Hat on Saturday to finish the home-and-home series.


Colin Jacobs made his season debut as Seattle was shutout by Prince George, 1-0. The 6'1 center missed the Thunderbirds' first 26 games while recovering from a shoulder injury. The Thunderbirds will meet Sundher and the Royals on Saturday.


In NCAA play, Connor Knapp made 27 saves as Miami posted a 5-3 upset of #4 Ohio State, 5-3. The victory, Knapp's third of the season and 34th of his career, snaps the Buckeyes 11-game unbeaten streak. The clubs will complete the home-and-home Saturday in Oxford.


Justin Jokinen produced two shots on goal as Minnesota State defeated Alabama-Huntsville, 4-2. The non-league set will conclude Saturday in Mankato.


Brad Eidsness served as backup as #19 North Dakota dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Nebraska-Omaha. With Aaron Dell stopping 33 shots in defeat, Eidsness may very well resume his backup role when the series continues on Saturday.


Christian Isackson (infection) did not play as #2 Minnesota lost in overtime to Michigan Tech, 3-2. The freshman, who has played in just four games this season, is expected to remain out for Saturday's rematch.

12/10/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

Foligno scores, MacIntyre stops 40 in Amerks win

Marcus Foligno scored his ninth goal of the year at 5:13 of the opening period, while Drew MacIntyre was rock solid in stopping all 40 shots he faced as Rochester earned a 3-0 Friday night win over Albany. The shutout was MacIntyre's first of the season and 15th of his nine-year career.

The 20-year old Foligno provided all the offense the Amerks would need when he gathered an Alex Biega pass in the corner and made a strong move to the net that eventually resulted in the puck popping into the air and over the line. The goal was Foligno's second in as many games.

Biega scored his first goal of the year on the power play in the final minute of the first period, while Derek Whitmore's 12th of the season in the second rounded out the Amerks attack. The 26-year old Whitmore, a Rochester native and product of Bowling Green, has eight of his 12 goals this season in his past six games.

Jacob Lagace and Drew Schiestel picked up assists for the Amerks. Schiestel now has a goal and an assist in his last two games.

Defenseman Dennis Persson returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with high ankle sprain.

The Rundown:
Foligno: 1G, +1, 2 SOG
Biega: G, A, +1, 2 SOG
Lagace: A, 2 SOG
Schiestel: A, 2 SOG
Crawford: +1, 3 SOG
Parker: 1 SOG
Boychuk: even

The Amerks return to action Saturday versus Adirondack.
12/10/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/8 Recap: Cat snags pair; D-men look to Calgary

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, December 9, 2011 | 12/09/2011

Dan Catenacci scored a pair of goals Thursday as Owen Sound lost to Barrie, 5-3. The speedy center now has 18 goals and 36 points through 32 games. Last season through his first 32, Catenacci gathered 18 goals and 42 points. Colts defenseman Alex Lepkowski picked up an assist, while Gregg Sutch finished -2 for the winning side.



Steven Shipley earned an assist and a game-low -2 rating as Niagara defeated Peterborough, 5-2. The big pivot gets on the scoresheet with a helper after being held without a point in his previous four games. The IceDogs will square off with Kingston on Saturday.

Mark Pysyk picked up an assist as Edmonton thumped Brandon, 7-3. The Oil Kings captain will take Friday off before heading to Calgary Saturday morning for the start of Canada's World Junior Selection Camp.

In QMJHL play, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (+2) saw his three-game goal streak snapped as Rimouski downed Moncton, 4-2. Liam O'Brien ('12) scored two goals to lead the Oceanic, who will next face Victoriaville on Friday. Leduc will join Pysyk at Canada's Selection Camp on Saturday.
12/09/2011 | 2 comments | Read More

12/7 Recap: Sundher cashes 19th in Royals loss

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, December 8, 2011 | 12/08/2011

Kevin Sundher scored his 19th goal of the year Wednesday as Victoria lost for the second straight night to Tri-City, 5-3. Sundher gave the Royals an early 2-1 lead when he charged to the edge of the crease with his stick on the ice to bury a Jamie Crooks pass. The Royals host Lethbridge on Friday.



In weeknight Hockey East action, Drew MacKenzie notched a power play assist as Vermont came up short at #5 Merrimack, 5-2. The well-rounded defenseman has four goals and three assists in 13 games this season. The Catamounts are off until December 17th when they host St. Lawrence.

Joel Armia recorded five shots on goal in 14:47 of work in Assat’s 4-3 loss to TPS. The Pori native has no points and a -3 rating in three games this season against TPS. Assat travels to Tappara on Friday.
12/08/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/6 Recap: Leduc running it up

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | 12/07/2011

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc extended his point streak to three games Tuesday with a goal and an assist in Rimouski's 6-5 loss to Bathurst. Leduc, whose 17 goals and 29 assists place eighth overall among QMJHL scorers, has nine points over the streak, making for the most productive three-game span of his prolific season. The Nics welcome Moncton to town on Thursday.

In WHL action, Kevin Sundher snapped a two-game schneid with a power play assist as Victoria was defeated by Tri-City, 6-2. The Surrey, BC native remains among WHL leaders with 18 goals (t8th), 27 assists (t6th), and 45 points (6th). The Royals and Americans will play a rematch on Wednesday.

Mark Pysyk saw his three-game point streak come to an end as Edmonton dumped Calgary, 6-2. Winners of seven straight, the Oil Kings will host Brandon on Thursday.

In college play, Mark Adams was even with a shot on goal as #20 Providence lost to #3 Boston College, 4-1. The Friars will now enter the holiday break with their next game coming on New Year's Day versus Brown.

Also of note, Cedrick Henley missed his third game with a broken thumb as Val-d'Or downed Rouyn-Noranda, 5-2.
12/07/2011 | 1 comments | Read More

Sabres Prospects Three Stars of the Week (12/4/2011)

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 | 12/06/2011

12/06/2011 | 5 comments | Read More

12/4 Recap: Pysyk chips in as Oil Kings roll

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, December 5, 2011 | 12/05/2011

Mark Pysyk scored his second goal of the year Sunday as Edmonton won their sixth in a row with an 8-3 pounding of Saskatoon. Pysyk, who has five points in his last three games, sent a power play shot late in the second period that deflected off two defenders before going in the net to give the Oil Kings a 6-2 lead. The six-game win streak is record for the modern-day Oil Kings franchise.



Nathan Lieuwen stopped 20 of 22 shots as Kootenay lost at Swift Current, 2-1. The month of December has been unkind to Lieuwen with all three outings resulting in losses. Despite the rough patch, the 6'5 netminder continues to lead all WHL goaltenders with a 1.84 goals against average and .935 save percentage.

In the OHL, Steven Shipley logged a -1 as Niagara was shut out by Brampton, 3-0. Former Jr. Sabres forward Phil Lane paced the Troops with two goals and an assist while West Seneca native Dylan Blujus ('12) added two helpers for the winners.
12/05/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/3 Recap: Sutch in the clutch; Cat strikes in loss

Gregg Sutch scored the game-tying goal and then clinched the win with another in the shootout as Barrie edged Niagara, 4-3. A gritty forward with some touch, Sutch has six goals and 11 points in 27 games this season. Alex Lepkowski racked up two minor penalties for the Colts, while Steven Shipley did not factor in any of the Niagara goals.



Elsewhere in the OHL, Dan Catenacci scored a goal and an assist as Owen Sound lost to London, 5-3. The speedy center has four goals and three assists in four games this season against the CHL's top-ranked Knights.

In Finland, Joel Armia earned an assist in 13:10 of work as Assat downed Karpat, 4-1. The big wing now has five goals and three assists in his last nine games.

In WHL play, Nathan Lieuwen stopped 25 shots but Kootenay couldn't muster enough offense in a 2-1 loss to Moose Jaw. Lieuwen's second straight loss drops him to 14-6-2-1 on the year.

Kevin Sundher was -1 as Victoria was doubled by Kamloops, 4-2. The six-foot center has now gone two games without a point for just the second time this season.

In college action, Drew MacKenzie finished -1 as Vermont was swept by Maine, 5-2. The 6'2 defender had scored goals in two straight leading up to the loss.

Christian Isackson recorded two shots on goal as Minnesota rode a three-goal first period to squeak out a 3-2 win over Minnesota State. Justin Jokinen, who continued to man a center spot for the Mavericks, finished even with a shot on goal.

Brad Eidsness served as backup to Aaron Dell as North Dakota earned the road sweep with a 4-1 at Anchorage. The Sioux will host Nebraska-Omaha next weekend at the Ralph.

Connor Knapp watched as Miami lost to Northern Michigan, 5-1. The RedHawks will engage in a home-and-home battle next weekend with in-state rivals Ohio State.
12/05/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/2 Recap: Armia, Leduc post big nights

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, December 3, 2011 | 12/03/2011

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc continued to show a boost from being named to Canada's selection camp Friday, notching two goals and two assists as Rimouski earned a 5-4 win over Chicoutimi. The offensive stalwart has collected 17 goals and 44 points this season - both tops among all QMJHL defenders.



Speaking of World Juniors, Joel Armia had his first two-goal game of the year and added an assist as Assat doubled Lukko, 6-3. The 6'3 wing was named the game's #1 star - also a season first. An absolute no-brainer for what could be a stacked Finnish World Junior entry, Armia now has seven goals and 15 points this season.



Drew MacKenzie scored his fourth goal of the season as Vermont lost to Maine, 6-4. The power-play marker gave the Catamounts a 3-2 lead at the second intermission before the Black Bears closed strong with a four-goal third period.



Alex Lepkowski scored his second goal of the year as Barrie downed Erie in a shootout, 4-3. Gregg Sutch was unable to get on the scoresheet for the Colts, while development camp invite Steven Beyers notched a regulation goal and the shootout winner.

Elsewhere, Dan Catenacci logged a +3 for the second straight game as Owen Sound defeated Guelph, 4-1. The Attack will battle a well-oiled London club on Saturday.

Nathan Lieuwen allowed two goals on 11 shots in 16:54 of relief work as Kootenay was bested by Prince Albert, 7-5. Lieuwen surrendered his fifth loss of the year despite playing less than one period's worth of hockey.

Kevin Sundher had three breakaways but did not register a point as Victoria edged Kelowna, 2-1. Despite not scoring, Sundher's all-around effort was rewarded with the game's #2 star.

Cedrick Henley missed his first game due to a broken thumb as Val-d'Or got rocked by Victoriaville, 6-1. The 6'5 wing is expected to miss two-three weeks while recovering.

In NCAA action, Brad Eidsness stopped 26 of 28 shots as North Dakota took a 5-2 decision at Alaska-Anchorage. The start was Eidsness' third of the year and first since October 21st.

Connor Knapp made 13 saves in nearly 50-minutes of action as #18 Miami lost to Northern Michigan, 2-1. The senior netminder, who was originally scheduled to start the contest, violated team rules Friday morning and was punished by sitting the first half of the opening period.

Mark Adams recorded one shot on goal as Providence upset top-ranked Merrimack, 2-1. The two clubs will play it back on Saturday.

Justin Jokinen contributed two shots on goal as Minnesota State lost to #5 Minnesota, 4-2. Christian Isackson was a healthy scratch for the Gophers for the 14th time this season.
12/03/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

12/1 Recap: Pysyk continues ramp-up

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, December 2, 2011 | 12/02/2011

Mark Pysyk tied a career-high Thursday by gathering three assists as Edmonton throttled Calgary, 6-1. The swift skating defenseman has been nothing short of excellent in two games since returning from an upper body injury, and looks poised to win a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championship being held in his backyard in Alberta.



You may recall how Pysyk raised his play last season following his selection camp invite, posting three assists (along with his first goal of the 2010-11 campaign) in his second post-announcement game just as he did in Thursday's tilt.

Winners of five straight, the Oil Kings will next face Saskatoon on Sunday.

Pysyk's hometown paper, The Sherwood Park News, has a Friday blurb regarding the rearguard's World Junior aspirations.

A first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pysyk was one of the final cuts from last year's squad, receiving one of the dreaded early-morning phone calls that keeps all of the players sleepless and staring at the phone to tell him he had been left off of the team.

The Park defenceman, a two-time MVP for the Edmonton Oil Kings, is hoping this is the year he gets to wear Canadian colours, especially with the tournament in his own community.

"I'm excited, there are no returning defencemen this year, so it should be wide open," Pysyk said. "I'm a year more confident, bigger, stronger, I've had a whole year of growth, so hopefully it turns out better this year than it did last year.

"I've been thinking about this since I woke up at 6 a.m. last year waiting for a phone call. I'm looking forward to getting another crack at it and I'm fortunate enough to get another chance."

Pysyk was reluctant to throw on a national team jersey at a press conference announcing the short-listed players in Edmonton on Monday, not wanting to tempt fate.

The Park product has 13 points in 21 games for the Oil Kings this season.


In Thursday OHL play, Steven Shipley finished +1 as Niagara thumped Erie, 7-2. The 6'3 center has five goals, eight assists, and a -11 rating in 23 games this season.
12/02/2011 | 0 comments | Read More

11/30 Recap: Sundher streaks to five; Lieuwen wins fourth in a row

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, December 1, 2011 | 12/01/2011

Kevin Sundher extended his point streak to five games Wednesday, scoring a pair of goals as Victoria lost in overtime to Kamloops, 6-5. The six-footer continues to pace the Royals with 18 goals and 44 points through 26 games. Last season, Sundher scored 24 goals in 70 regular season contests.



Nathan Lieuwen made 20 saves to earn his fourth straight victory as Kootenay bashed Saskatoon, 6-1. The 6'5 stopper maintains his postion as an elite WHL netminder, posting a 14-4-1-2 mark with a 1.75 goals against average and .939 save percentage.

Dan Catenacci notched a pair of assists and finished a game-best +3 as Owen Sound defeated Barrie, 3-1. Cartenacci leads the Attack with 15 goals and 32 points through 29 games. Alex Lepkowski and Gregg Sutch each finished -1 for the Colts.
12/01/2011 | 1 comments | Read More