12/5 Draft Stuff: Keller, Bellows dominate

Good for you if you had Clayton Keller in your 2016 Draft office pool lineup on Saturday.

The sensational playmaker paved the way in USHL action for Team USA U18, posting a six-point night to spark a 7-4 win over Sioux City. Keller has been shredding it with 19 points (5+14) in nine USHL contests, sending NHL scouts flocking to see if this 5-foot-10, 170-pound points machine can challenge the top 10 in the draft class. In 25 total contests with the NTDP, Keller has connected for 16 goals and 50 points.

BU commit Kieffer Bellows notched a goal and four assists in Team USA U18's victory. Bellows controlled the puck to the middle of the ice and slung a wrist shot from high between the circles for his 20th goal of the year and eighth of his USHL season. Bellows has goals in four straight USHL contests. Joey Anderson (Duluth) contributed two goals and a helper for Team USA.

The Julien Gauthier train kept a-rolling, with the massive winger netting another two tallies as Val-d'Or drilled Halifax 6-1. The second-star performance boosts Gauthier to an impressive 26 goals in 29 games. At 6-foot-4, 227 pounds with a soft set of hands, Gauthier's confidence is soaring with Canada's World Junior Selection Camp on the horizon. He has points in 11 straight games and 16 of his last 17.

Another top-10 QMJHL talent made a mark as Pierre-Luc Dubois captured a goal and two assists in Cape Breton's 6-2 win over Shawinigan. Dubois' big night gives him 20 goals and 46 points in 32 games. He posted 45 points (10+35) all of last season. Cataractes high-flying defender Samuel Girard picked up one assist in the loss to keep his spot atop the points lead for QMJHL defenders with 38 (5+33).

University of Connecticut freshman Tage Thompson added two more goals to his stat line including the game-winner as the Huskies defeated Lowell 4-3. The 6-foot-4 winger has produced points in three of his last four games to push his line to 6-5-11 through his first 14 contests.

Dillon Dube snapped his eight-game drought with a pair of markers to help Kelowna to a 4-2 doubling of Portland. The Rockets hope that Dube's first-star effort gets him moving in the right direction as the team prepares to be without Team Canada hopefuls Nick Merkley (ARI) and Rourke Chartier (SJS). Dube ranks third on the team with 27 points (12+15).

Consensus top-five talent Matthew Tkachuk dished his way to four assists as London throttled Ottawa 7-2. The tenacious left-winger has collected four goals and 18 points over his eight-game point streak. He's currently fifth on the OHL leaderboard with 52 points (12+40) in 26 games.

In the same game, Olli Maatta clone Olli Juolevi scored his fourth goal of the year for the Knights. To complete London's draft class roll call, Victor Mete amassed two helpers, Max Jones contributed one assist and a game-high seven shots on goal, and Cliff Pu added one assist.

Speaking of clones, Nick Bjugstad clone Riley Tufte scored off a one-timer to push the Blaine Bengals to a 4-3 overtime win over Edina. The 6-foot-5 Tufte, who employs a Bjugstad-ish power style and plays for the same high school that spawned the young Florida star, scored five goals in a 12-3 rout of Totino Grace on Thursday. Tufte is property of the USHL's Fargo Force and committed to Minnesota-Duluth.

Jakob Chychrun kept pace with his peers, notching three helpers to guide Sarnia to a 5-3 win over Flint. Likely the top rearguard this June, Chychrun's second-star effort gives him an even 20 points (4+16) in 27 contests.

Nearly identical in stature to Keller, Flint forward Will Bitten is becoming one of the more interesting players in the draft class. The 5-foot-10, 168-pounder scored a goal and an assist to earn the game's third star in the Firebirds' loss to the Sting. Bitten's no-quit mentality has propelled him to 15 goals and 37 points in 28 games this season while putting him in the first-round conversation.

Vancouver Giants captain Tyler Benson scored his sixth goal of the year and took a roughing minor in a 3-1 loss to Everett. Benson has points in four straight for a struggling squad that currently ranks dead last in the WHL's Western Conference standings.

Carter Hart was called on to make just 21 saves as Everett earned the win over Vancouver. Hart has been both consistent and dominant this season, capturing 15 wins while posting a league-best 1.72 GAA and a .935 save% to emerge as perhaps the top goaltender in the draft class.

Two thirds of Erie's dynamic draft triplets got on the scoresheet as Kyle Maksimovich (12th) and Taylor Raddysh (13th) each produced goals in the Otters' 5-0 win over Owen Sound. Alex Debrincat went without a goal for the second straight night, but did record an assist in the win.

Gritty Soo winger Boris Katchouk buried his 10th goal of the year on one of his four shots on goal as the Greyhounds rode a Zach Senyshyn (BOS) hat trick to a 5-4 overtime triumph over Oshawa. The energetic Katchouk has goals in two straight games for the first time since September.

Jesse Puljujarvi ended a four-game funk with one assist in 14:38 of work in Karpat's 8-2 throttling of HIFK. Puljujarvi, who is a shoo-in for Finland's World Junior squad, has five goals, 12 points and a plus-four rating in 28 Liiga games.

Two-way force Rasmus Asplund ended a four-game point drought of his own with a helper in Farjestad's 4-2 victiory at Rogle. The speedy worker has five points (3+2) in 25 top-league tilts this season in Sweden.

Regina's Sam Steel knocked in his eighth goal of the season in the Pats' 4-3 shootout loss to Moose Jaw. The marker keeps Steel at a point-per-game pace through 28 contests.
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