5/24 Recap: Pysyk bows out

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, May 25, 2012 | 5/25/2012

Mark Pysyk saw his excellent junior career come to an end Thursday as the Edmonton Oil Kings were hammered by the Shawinigan Cataractes 6-1 in the Memorial Cup 3rd place tiebreaker. The Oil Kings runs ends the most successful season in franchise history, while for the 20-year old Pysyk, the sting of defeat will soon pass with his NHL deal inked last June and the start of his pro career just a few short months away.

After falling in a 2-0 hole at the end of the opening frame, the Oil Kings quickly allowed two more goals within the first three minutes of the second to seal their fate. The steady leader helped create the Oil Kings lone goal of the night when his long pass out of the zone was corralled and fed to Henrik Samuelsson ('12) at 16:28 of the middle frame.

The Oil Kings competed admirably in the third, but the host team held their ground to storm their way into Friday's semifinal match-up with bitter QMJHL rival, Saint John.

Pysyk finished the tournament with three assists, and -3 rating, and 12 penalty minutes.

With the Sabres having eight defenseman (Myers, Ehrhoff, Sekera, Regehr, Leopold, Sulzer, Weber, McNabb) ready to compete for top club duty, Pysyk can comfortably enter the AHL next season and hone his all-around craft in quality minutes. He'll want to get bigger up top to gain more leverage, but overall his skating and two-way skills are close to ready. There's no rush to have him in Buffalo, though, so for now pencil him in for depth and figure he'll give the team some nice flexibility once his development spikes.
5/25/2012 | 4 comments | Read More

5/21-22 Recap: Cup hopes take hit as Oil Kings drop pair

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | 5/22/2012

Mark Pysyk registered a shot on goal Tuesday as Edmonton was defeated by the London Knights 4-1 in their final round robin game of the 2012 Mastercard Memorial Cup. The Oil Kings, who fall to 1-2 in tournament play, are now in the tough spot of needing to defeat all three teams (tiebreaker, semifinal, final) in four nights in order to win the prestigious junior trophy.

For the second straight night, the Oil Kings fell behind early as Griffin Reinhart's failed drop pass led to a Ryan Rupert goal at 1:17. Things got tougher for the WHL champs minutes later when Pysyk was whistled for a high-sticking double minor. The Knights couldn't capitalize with the four-minute man advantage but did get another on the board shortly after as a trailing Bo Horvat batted in a Chris Tierney rebound for a 2-0 lead.

Keegan Lowe scored from the doorstep with 2.6 seconds left in the opening period, but it was all that Edmonton could muster as London would add two more goals over the final forty minutes while the OKs power play failed to connect on any of their six chances.

Edmonton will now face the loser of Wednesday's Shawinigan/Saint John tilt in the 3rd place tiebreaker game on Thursday for the right to keep playing.

On Monday, Pysyk recorded an assist as Edmonton suffered a loss 5-2 to Saint John. The Oil Kings loss created a Memorial Cup tournament first as all four teams finished their first two games with a 1-1 record.

The 6'2 Pysyk has three assists, a -3 rating, three shots on goal, and eight penalty minutes in the tourney's three games.
5/22/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/19 Recap: Oil Kings open tourney with win

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 19, 2012 | 5/19/2012

photo courtesy of The Canadian Press
Mark Pysyk picked up an assist Friday as the WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings opened the 2012 Memorial Cup with a 4-3 win over the host Shawinigan Cataractes. The teams combined for a five-goal third period capped by a Henrik Samuelsson ('12) game winner at 13:42. Griffin Reinhart ('12) notched a goal and an assist to earn the game's #1 star.

The teams traded goals in the opening twenty with the Cataractes' tally coming on the power play thanks to Pysyk's roughing penalty at 7:56. The bigger, stronger Pysyk defended his crease after the whistle (right), sending a Cat forward to the ice in the process and him to the box for 40-seconds before the Cats tied the game.

The tie would hold into the third period, but the gates quickly opened with Reinhart's goal at the 1:01 mark.

With the teams playing four-on-four, Pysyk drew two defenders his way before sliding a pass to Martin Gernat (EDM) for a wrister that upped the Oil Kings lead to 3-1 at 5:32.

The Cataractes kept the heat on with two goals to make it a 3-3 game before Samuelsson finished a nice three-way passing play to get his third game winner of the playoffs.

Pysyk, who rounded his effort with two hits, would again head to the box with just under five minutes to play, but this time his mates were able to kill the it off and preserve the lead the rest of the way.

The Oil Kings will now get the weekend off before facing the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday.
5/19/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/13 Recap: Pysyk captains Oil Kings to WHL title

Written By Kris Baker on Monday, May 14, 2012 | 5/14/2012

Mark Pysyk was a stalwart in big minutes Sunday, posting a healthy +3 rating as the Edmonton Oil Kings captured the Ed Chynoweth Trophy with a 4-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks in Game Seven of the WHL Championship. Over 12,500 fans in Rexall Place cheered loudly as Pysyk, a native Edmontonian, hoisted the franchise's first trophy since re-joining the WHL in 2007-08.

The valuable leader elevated his game at both ends of the rink in the final round. Along with managing the pace of play and scoring perhaps the biggest goal in franchise history with his Game Five winner, Pysyk leveraged his smarts and continued emergence of his physical game to neutralize the Hawks' top line of Sven Bartschi (CAL), Ty Rattie (STL), and Marcel Noebels (PHI) in the deciding game. He didn't get to win gold with Team Canada, but the big game experience kicked in when his team needed it.

For Pysyk, the championship completes a junior hockey voyage that began with him being the club's first-ever draft pick in 2007 and end as two-year captain. The face of the modern day Oil Kings since day one, Pysyk joins Tyler Myers (2009), Matt MacKenzie (2010), and Brayden McNabb (2011) to give the Sabres a WHL champion blueliner for the fourth straight year. He finishes the playoffs with three goals, including one shorthanded and a game winner, and 11 points.

Pysyk will add one more chapter to his junior resume by leading the Oil Kings into the 2012 Mastercard Memorial Cup. They'll open the tournament Friday (5/18) with a date against host Shawinigan, who haven't played since April 17th. Edmonton will then battle the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday (5/21) before closing the round-robin against the OHL's London Knights on Tuesday (5/22).

5/14/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

5/12 Recap: Game Seven ordered

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, May 13, 2012 | 5/13/2012

Mark Pysyk finished -1 with a double-minor Saturday as Edmonton lost to Portland 3-2 in game #6 of the WHL Championship. With the series locked 3-3, the teams boarded flights for Edmonton following the game in preparation for Sunday's exciting game seven.

Despite not scoring like he did in the final minute Thursday, the steady Pysyk was again effective in creating several opportunities as Derek Laxdall shortened the Oil Kings bench. At one point late in the game, the captain was leveled by Taylor Peters but got right back up with the puck and rang a shot off the crossbar as the Oil Kings looked for a late surge.

Pysyk's chippiness throughout the game was also noted. In the middle frame, he earned an extra two for extra elbows and punches as coincidental minors were doled out to he and Troy Rutkowski (COL). He later brought the stick up high on Oliver Gabriel (CBJ) at the final buzzer. Gabriel received a spearing minor on the play.

The Oil Kings and Winterhawks will drop the puck at 6:00 MST Sunday with the winner skating away with the Ed Chynoweth Cup and the right to represent the WHL at the 2012 Memorial Cup in Shawinigan.
5/13/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/11 Recap: Shipley done

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 12, 2012 | 5/12/2012

Steven Shipley (-1) saw his season come to an end Friday as the Niagara IceDogs were defeated by the London Knights 2-1 in game #5 of the OHL Championship. The IceDogs lose the series 4-1 to complete their most successful season in franchise history, while the Knights pack their bags for Shawinigan, Quebec and a spot in the 2012 Memorial Cup.

Austin Watson (NAS) and Seth Griffith each potted their 10th of the season to lead the Knights to their second-ever title, while Michael Houser continued his excellence with 26 saves.

Shipley, who retreated to the dressing room late in the middle frame after getting clipped with a Jarred Tinordi high stick, started the playoffs on a tear with five goals and an assist in his first four postseason games. He was ultimately counted on for faceoffs and responsible two-way play the rest of the way, notching three assists through the final 16 games. His mark of the postseason likely wasn't a goal but rather a key shot block in the final minute of the Dogs Eastern Conference clinching win over Ottawa. Being a 2010 draft pick, the Sabres have until June 1st to decide whether or not they wish they to maintain his NHL rights by signing him to an NHL contract.

London joins the QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs and the host Shawinigan Cataractes at the 2012 Memorial Cup beginning May 18th. The weekend will bring us the fourth and final entry from the WHL as Mark Pysyk's Edmonton Oil Kings look to close out their 3-2 series lead over the Portland Winterhawks.
5/12/2012 | 2 comments | Read More

5/10 Recap: Pysyk's winner gives Oil Kings edge

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, May 11, 2012 | 5/11/2012

Mark Pysyk scored with 56-seconds left in regulation Thursday to vault Edmonton to an exciting 4-3 win over Portland in game #5 of the WHL Championship. The victory gives the Oil Kings a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Pysyk, who earlier pocketed an assist on the Oil Kings' third goal, made a stellar play on the game winner, gloving a pass down in the neutral zone and unleashing a rising wrister from between the hash marks that breezed past 'Hawks netminder Mac Carruth. The play featured several of the traits we've outlined over the past two seasons - his smarts, positioning, and skating. On top of it all was an "NHL shot" that should have made TSN's top plays.

The game's #1 star, Pysyk will lead the charge into Portland for Saturday's game six and a chance to win Edmonton's first WHL Championship since re-entering the league in the 2007-08 season. Pysyk was the first-ever draft pick for these modern day Oil Kings, having served as team captain for the past two seasons.

In the QMJHL, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc punched four shots on goal as Rimouski was swept from the QMJHL's President's Cup final with an 8-0 blowout loss to Saint John. The 6'1 defender concludes his excellent final year of junior, accumulating 37 goals and 93 points in 83 total games between the regular season and playoffs, including a stretch of eight straight with a goal to set an all-time league record for defensemen. The power play specialist is slated to join the Rochester Americans in 2012-13 for his rookie professional season.
5/11/2012 | 1 comments | Read More

5/9 Recap: Leduc connects; clubs on brink

Written By Kris Baker on Thursday, May 10, 2012 | 5/10/2012

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc posted a goal and an assist Wednesday as Rimouski was defeated by Saint John 6-4 in game #3 of the QMJHL President's Cup final. The big-shooting righty drilled a power play shot eleven minutes in to tie the game 1-1 heading into the first intermission. Leduc would later add a helper with the Sea Dogs firmly in control of the contest. After a regular season that saw him lead all QMJHL defensemen with 28 goals and 74 points, the 6'1 defender has struck another nine times this postseason to go along with 10 assists in 20 games. The multi-point effort was his first since the first round, a span of over a month.

The Oceanic now find themselves in a 3-0 series hole with Leduc facing the prospects of playing his final junior game Thursday in Rimouski.

Steven Shipley recorded an assist as Niagara couldn't overcome an early three-goal hole en route to a 4-1 loss to London in game #4 of the OHL Championship. The 6'3 center, who has collected five goals and nine points in 19 postseason games, helped get the IceDogs on the board at 6:23 of the third by driving the net and pushing the puck past London goaltender Michael Houser to a crashing Myles Doan for his second helper in as many games. Houser, the OHL's Player of the Year and attendee at Buffalo's 2011 development camp, made 36 stops to earn the game's #1 star. Talented Finnish defenseman Olli Maatta ('12) was injured late in the game when he was taken out along the boards in the Knights zone.

Trailing the series 3-1, Niagara faces elimination for the first time this postseason as the series shifts back to London for Friday's game #5.

5/10/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/8 Recap: Pysyk plays part as Oil Kings even series

Written By Kris Baker on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 5/09/2012

Mark Pysyk (-2) recorded an assist Tuesday as Edmonton evened the WHL Championship with a 4-3 overtime win at Portland. The helper gives the steady captain nine points (2+7) through 17 postseason tilts.

After letting a forward get behind him for the opening goal a minute-and-a-half in, the 6'2 defender was strong the rest of the way, intercepting passes in his own zone and upping his shot output at the other end. His shot attempt in the final minute of the second period was blocked but landed on the stick of Stephane Legault to give the Oil Kings a 3-1 lead.

Portland stormed back with a pair of third period tallies by Sven Bartschi (CAL) before Rhett Rachinski struck for his second of the game at 9:07 of the OT to tie the series at 2-2. The clubs will head back to Edmonton for Thursday's pivotal game #5.
5/09/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/7 Recap: Dogs downed; Oil Kings in unfamiliar hole

Written By Kris Baker on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 | 5/08/2012

Steven Shipley recorded an assist Tuesday as Niagara was defeated by London 3-2 in game #3 of the OHL Championship. The 6'3 center's work around the net while on an second period power play gives him eight points in 18 playoff games. Shipley was also called for tripping with less than two minutes to play as the Dogs looked to tie the game.

Shortly before the Shipley call, a pair of London's 2012 draft eligibles combined for the game winning goal with 3:28 left in regulation as Chris Tierney won a faceoff draw back to Olli Maatta, who in turn rifled a heavy slapper that was tipped in the slot by Tierney for his fourth of the postseason. Maatta, a surefire first-round pick next month, has accumulated an impressive six goals and 21 points in 17 playoff games for the Knights. Niagara heads home for Wednesday's game #4 trailing the series 2-1.

In Sunday action, Mark Pysyk finished with an even rating as Edmonton's three-goal third period rally fell short in a 4-3 loss to Portland. Brendan Leipsic ('12) interrupted the Oil Kings' charge by scoring his second consecutive game winner at 4:37 of the third. Trailing the best-of-seven championship 2-1, the Oil Kings are now behind in a series for the first time this postseason heading into Wednesday's game #4.

With Shipley's IceDogs amd Pysyk's Oil Kings trailing their series 2-1, and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc's Rimouski Oceanic in a 2-0 hole against Saint John in the QMJHL final, the Sabres are in danger of not having a drafted prospect participate in the Memorial Cup for the first time since 2007. Tyler Ennis played for Medicine Hat in the '07 tourney but wasn't draft eligible until 2008.
5/08/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/5 Recap: Leduc adds a point in Nics loss

Written By Kris Baker on Sunday, May 6, 2012 | 5/06/2012

Two of the three CHL Championship series continued on Saturday, with two Sabres prospects seeing their teams takes losses.

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (+1) earned a late assist with a good first pass as Rimouski was edged by Saint John, 3-2. The QMJHL's leading defensive scorer with eight goals and 17 points, Leduc also contributed three shots on goal in the loss. Charlie Coyle (MIN) scored the winner on a penalty shot for his 15th goal in as many playoff games. The Oceanic head home for Wednesday's game #3 trailing the President's Cup final 2-0.

Steven Shipley went without a point for the fifth straight game as Niagara was defeated by London 5-3 in game #2 of the OHL Championship. The third-line center has been good at the dot and has gotten in front of several shots despite recording just one assist in his last 13 games. Ryan Rupert ('12) paced the Knights with a hat trick, while overager Andrew Agozzino notched all three IceDogs goals in defeat. The clubs head back to London for Monday's game #3 with the series tied at one game apiece.
5/06/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

RDS: Sabres sign Lieuwen

Written By Kris Baker on Saturday, May 5, 2012 | 5/05/2012

RDS is reporting that the Buffalo Sabres are set to announce the signing of goaltender Nathan Lieuwen to a three-year entry-level deal.

Lieuwen, 20, enters the professional ranks after four full seasons with the WHL's Kootenay ICE in which in he set an all-time franchise record with 85 victories. The 6'5, 190-pounder gathered 60 of those wins over his final two years, including a sparkling 2011 run that saw him earn the league's playoff MVP while he and Brayden McNabb steered the ICE to their first Memorial Cup appearance since 2002.

This past season, Lieuwen was named an Eastern Conference 2nd team All-Star, finishing 27-20-6-2 with a 2.50 goals against average (3rd in WHL), .914 save percentage (5th), and three shutouts (t6th). His season ended with a combined 121 saves in four games as the ICE were swept from the first round of the playoffs by Mark Pysyk and the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Sabres fans previously saw what Lieuwen was capable of when he backstopped the Sabres to the championship at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. He'll attend his first development camp this July after missing the 2011 sessions while recovering from a sports hernia.

Chosen in the sixth round (167th overall) of the 2011 draft, the Abbotsford, B.C. native becomes the fourth Sabres goaltender under contract for the 2012-13 season. He's slated to enter the mix for playing time in Rochester along with 6'6 rookie Connor Knapp.

It's abundantly clear that big, athletic netminders with long limbs are en vogue in today's NHL. The Sabres now have two to watch develop over the next couple of years while Ryan Miller (two years to UFA) and Jhonas Enroth (one year to RFA) play out their existing deals. Even if one of them gets shuttled to the ECHL at some point (will Amerks 2011-12 MVP David Leggio get extended?), it should never be considered a bad thing (see: Jonathan Quick) as the club develops home grown depth in the crease.
5/05/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/4 recap: Defensive duo dealt defeats

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc produced an assist Friday for his 16th postseason point, but Rimouski was defeated by Saint John 3-2 in double overtime in game #1 of the QMJHL President's Cup final. Leduc's up-ice pass while on the power play garnered a secondary helper as the Nics tied the game 2-2 at 13:20 of the second period. The offensive blueliner, who previously posted a combined 20 shots on goal in the last three games of the semifinal round, fired just one in the game one loss. Rimouski will look to even the series when the teams reconvene for Saturday's game #2.

In the WHL, Mark Pysyk was even as Edmonton dropped a 5-1 decision to Portland in game #2 of the WHL Championship. The loss evens the best-of-seven at one game apiece, while ending the Oil Kings 12-game home-ice winning streak dating back to late February. Brendan Leipsic ('12) and Sven Bartschi (CAL) paved the way for the Winterhawks with two goals each. Portland was playing without star forward Ty Rattie (STL), who was injured in the first period of the Thursday opener. Game #3 will be played Sunday in Portland.
5/05/2012 | 0 comments | Read More

5/3 Recap: Pysyk stars, Shipley solid as teams take openers

Written By Kris Baker on Friday, May 4, 2012 | 5/04/2012

Mark Pysyk was named the game's #1 star Thursday as Edmonton opened the 2012 WHL Championship series with a 3-2 win over Portland. The 6'2 captain saw his seeing-eye wrister get through traffic before getting tipped on its way into the Winterhawks cage at 1:25 of the opening period to quickly get the Oil Kings moving in the right direction after a six-day layoff. Pysyk, who along with partner Keegan Lowe (CAR), were set to match-up with the Winterhawks' potent top-line featuring Ty Rattie (STL) and Sven Bartschi (CAL), but the former was wiped out along the boards early on and did not return. The teams will regroup on Friday at Rexall for game #2 with the Oil Kings holding a 1-0 lead.

In the OHL, Steven Shipley played even as Niagara got a goal from Dougie Hamilton (BOS) at 9:03 of the second overtime to secure a 3-2 win over London in game #1 of the OHL Championship. The IceDogs' third line of Shipley at center along with Brett Ritchie (DAL) and Mitchell Theoret (NYI) produced the game's first goal at 4:01 of the opening frame. The 6'3 center, who has emerged as one of the better faceoff men in the entire OHL, was on the ice for several key draws late in regulation and OT. After taking a 1-0 series advantage on the road, the IceDogs will welcome the Knights to their barn in St. Catharines for Saturday's game #2.
5/04/2012 | 4 comments | Read More