It's the last week of February, and everyone is getting ready for the playoffs. With a bad attempt at figuring out the NCAA divisional playoffs, before the mess that is bracket seeding, I'll list each teams current rank and their likely opponent. The only prospects that look to miss the playoffs right now are Connor Brown of Erie and Morgan Rielly of Moose Jaw.
Tyler Biggs - Oshawa Generals, OHL
The Generals currently sit third in the Eastern Conference, five points back of East Division/Conference leader Belleville Bulls. Right now their first round opponent would be the Niagara IceDogs, making it the third year in a row these two teams meet in the playoffs.
No points but a +2 as the Generals beat the Frontenacs 4-1
Biggs scored the game winning goal on a Generals power play late in the third period.
No points for Tyler Biggs as the Generals beat the Frontenacs 4-2.
Connor Brown - Erie Otters, OHL
The Erie Otters have been eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs for the second year in a row.
Connor Brown did not play (concussion) in the Otters 7-2 loss to the Whalers
Connor Brown did not play (concussion) in the Otters 5-4 OT win over the Spitfires
Ryan Rupert - London Knights, OHL
The London Knights sit in first place in the Western Conference and the OHL with 96 points, 11 points ahead of the East leading Belleville Bulls, so barring them losing the rest of their games their playoff seed is set as home ice from the first round to the Robertson Cup Finals. The Knights are looking to defend their OHL champions title and get another shot at the Memorial Cup after losing out last year 2-1 in overtime to the host Shawinigan Cataracts. Their current first round opponent would be the Saginaw Spirit.
Ryan Rupert had 2 goals in the Knights 5-2 win over the Spitfires, but just wasn't feeling it last night
"I didn't feel like it was my best game and I didn't feel the best out there," Ryan said, "but sometimes those are the breaks you get and sometimes when you're feeling good, you don't get the breaks. The game of hockey is about bounces and I was lucky out there."
Perhaps he missed his brother, Leafs camp try out invitee Matt Rupert, who was suspended until game 2 of the OHL playoffs.
Rupert assisted on Max Domi's game tying goal late in the third period to send the Knights and Sting to a shootout, which London won 2-1. Ryan missed his shootout attempt, and had a tripping penalty to end the second period.
I love a good green hockey jersey.
And the CHL game of the week on Sportsnet is London vs Sarnia, so check it out at 7PM on Friday March 8th.
Josh Leivo - Kitchener Rangers, OHL
The Kitchener Rangers are fourth in the Western Conference, 16 points back of their division leader London Knights, but only 3 back of third place Owen Sound Attack, so third is the best they could seed and it will be a fight to knock off the Attack from that perch. Right now they would face the Guelph Storm in the first round. Where a few teams have dropped off since the start of the NHL season the Rangers have excelled and I wouldn't count them out of going the distance this year if their injuries dry up.
No points, penalties for Josh as the Rangers beat the Attack 2-1 in a shootout.
Nothing again for Josh in the Rangers worst loss of the season.
Several veterans saw limited ice-time as Sunday’s game wore on. Winger Josh Leivo, who has one point in his past six games, was benched for the entire third period.
Matt Finn & Garrett Sparks - Guelph Storm, OHL
The Storm are in a tight spots sitting at fifth place in the Western Conference. They are only 3 points ahead of sixth place surging Soo Greyhounds and five ahead of seventh place Sarnia Sting. At their current spot they'll be playing the fourth place Kitchener Rangers who are three points ahead of them. The return of Matt Finn will help the Storm, but I think fifth is the highest they'll seed.
March 1st - @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Captain Matt Finn made his return to the ice after fighting mono the past month, assisted in the Storms 5th of the game and the team welcomed Finn back with a 6-3 win over the Greyhounds, Sparks made 21 saves on 24 shots for the W.
Finn was limited to roughly 15 minutes of duty given that it was his first game in six weeks as he recovered from mono.
"It’s always nice to be back in the room and back playing," said the Storm captain. "They kept my minutes down, but I felt great even at the end."
With a three-goal lead and another game Sunday, Finn was rested late in the game.
"When they told me to sit down, I still wanted to play," he said, "but it’s good to be cautious about it."
Finn had no points but was a +1 in his second game back for the Storm, and Sparks made 39 saves on 41 shots.
David Broll - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL
The Greyhounds are in 6th place in the Western Conference, 3 points back of fifth, and 2 ahead of seventh. With new coach Sheldon Keefe at the helm the team has taken off in their points production and style, having the OHL leading scorer on your team doesn't hurt either. if the 'hounds keep their ways up they could climb into fifth place, but currently they would be playing third seed Owen Sound Attack. A strong attack of the playoffs would do the Greyhounds some good, the past for years they only made the playoffs once, in 09-10 and lost in 5 games to Plymouth.
Broll had no points, was a -1, and had a cross checking penalty in the second (no PP goal) but did have an unusual centre on his line:
In Cousins’ absence (4 games suspension), the Hounds used star defenceman Ryan Sproul at centre between David Broll and Brandon Alderson...."For me, he was fine out there," (Head Coach Sheldon) Keefe said. "He was our best faceoff man. But we didn’t get enough on that line from Broll and Alderson."
Broll was a -3 and was called for roughing the first and third periods of the Greyhounds 6-3 loss to Guelph.
Broll assisted on the Greyhounds 3rd goal of the game in a 4-0 win over the Petes, and ended the first period with a bang.
At the buzzer, Hound DAVID BROLL and Derek Mathers dropped the mitts that saw the Broll given 2 for instigating and a fighting major, while Mathers was assessed two for instigating, five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct which left him out of commission basically the entire second period for the visitors.
Update: The Broll/Mathers fight was Mathers 11th of the season making him the first person suspended due to the OHL's new 10 fight limit rule.
Stuart Percy - Mississauga Steelheads, OHL
The Steelheads are in the eighth seed right now in the Eastern Conference Playoffs,tied with the seventh seed Kingston Frontenacs in points, and 4 ahead of the Peterborough Petes in ninth. A strong end to the season could see them take the sixth seed from Niagara, but they are slumping the same time as Niagara, going 1-8-0-1 over their past 10. Currently they would play first place Belleville Subbans in the opening round.
The Steelheads were shutout by 2nd place Barrie in the first fo 3 games in 3 nights, Percy was a -1
"(Niederberger) is a great goalie obviously," said Steelheads captain Stuart Percy.
"I think we could have gotten a bit more traffic and try to rattle him like Sean Avery would do. Against a goalie like that, you have to get inside their heads and play the mental game to knock them off their game a bit."
Not a good weekend for the Fish, a 6-1 drubbing followed up the shutout from Friday. Percy continues his -1 streak.
Percy (in blue) helps out the Steelehads goalie in of the few times the Whalers lost control of the puck.
The Steelheads finished up the weekend with a 5-0 loss to the Plymouth Whalers, being outscored 15-1 in 3 days.
Mississauga captain Stuart Percy said the team is aware of the urgency it needs to play to close out the regular season.
"(Our fate) is completely in our control, so we just need to play Steelheads hockey for 60 minutes," Percy said. "We can't play 59:30 because that can be the difference in those close games against teams like Brampton or Barrie."
Morgan Rielly - Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL
The Moose Jaw Warriors are eliminated from the WHL post season, sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference, 14 points out of eighth place. The Warriors lost the Eastern Conference final last year to the eventual WHL Champions Edmonton Oil Kings.
No points for Morgan as the Warriors lost to the Raiders 4-1.
Rielly assisted on the game tying goal in the 3rd period to send it to overtime where the Warriors fell 3-2 to the Pats.
Both teams travelled to Moose Jaw for a penalty filled affair (47min for Regina, 124min for Moose Jaw) that saw Rielly get no points and a -2 in a 7-2 drubbing by the Pats.
Rielly had 2 assists including on the OT winner as the Warriors broke the Saskatoon Blades 18 game winning streak in OT.
The overtime winner was truly bizarre as Point chipped a puck to spring Rielly. Blades goalie Andrey Makarov liked his odds of beating Rielly to the loose puck, but Rielly got there first and avoided a sprawling Makarov at the boards feet from the Blades blueline. Rielly showed great composure in pulling up and drawing the Blades defenceman over before feeding Tanner Eberle for the easiest overtime winner of his life.
Dominic Toninato - Fargo Force, USHL (committed to U. Minnesota-Duluth)
The Fargo Force are currently in second place in the USHL's Western Conference. Second seems to be their spot, as they are 8 points back of first place Sioux Falls Stampede and 3 ahead of third place Lincoln Stars
Dominic opened the scoring for the game and Fargo went on to win 4-2 over Lincoln.
"You always want to get off to a good start," Toninato said of his 21st goal of the season. "It is very important. … (Alex) Iafallo made a great pass to me and I just shot it. Luckily it went in. When you score in the first minute on the first shift it definitely helps throughout the game."
No points in a 3-2 loss to Lincoln.
Max Everson - Omaha, USHL
The Omaha Lancers sit in fifth place in the USHL Western Conference, 1 point behind 4th place Waterloo, and 14 ahead of 6th place Tri-City
Everson doesn't seem to play much and I've asked the Lancers writer for Omaha.com if he's still with the team but have not heard back yet and HockeyDB has him as no longer on the active roster
Once again did not play as the Lancers lost 2-1.
Did not play as the Lancers beat the Buccaneers 5-2.
Did Not Play in a 6-2 loss to Sioux City
Sam Carrick & Brad Ross - Idaho Steelheads, ECHL
The Steelheads sit in third place in the ECHL Western Conference, 10 points back of division leader Alaska Aces. right now they would be facing the sixth place Colorado Eagles (Winnipeg Jets affiliate). Looking at the ECHL conferences makes arguments about uneven divisions in the NHL seems meaningless. The top 8 from each ECHL conference make the playoffs, so in the west that's that top 8/9 and the east is the top 8/14.
It was $1 beer night in Boise and Steelheads fans had plenty of suds to help keep them warm through a 3-2 shootout loss to the Grizzlies. Sam Carrick had the Steelheads second goal of the game, Brad Ross had no points and was a -1, and both players were stopped on their shootout attempts.
Sam Carrick was called up to the Marlies. Brad Ross had no points and an interferance minor in the first period as the Steelheads beat the Grizzlies 6-0
Ross had no points as the Steelheads beat the Grizzlies 4-3 in a shootout.
Chemmy was kind enough to help explain the NCAA playoffs and bracket seedings to me last week, so I will share his answers:
Tony Cameranesi - U. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, NCAA
Tony tied the game late in the first period for his only goal in the contest, and the Bulldogs went on to win 4-2 over the Chargers.
March 2nd - vs Alabama-Huntsville Chargers
Tony had the game winning goal and 2A as the Bulldogs beat the Chargers 4-0
"We controlled play for most of the 60 minutes of both games and a lot of guys played well, from top-to-bottom in the lineup. That’s what we can take with us into next weekend and the (WCHA) playoffs," said freshman center Tony Cameranesi, UMD’s scoring leader with 30 points in 34 games, including a goal and two assists Saturday.
Eric Knodel - U. New Hampshire, NCAA
March 1st - vs U Massachusetts Minutemen
"Eric Knodel had a great shot on the ice and the goalie actually made a nice save on it but the rebound came right out to me," Henrion said. "I kind of dove at it and took a swing. Just barely made it in, but we'll take it."
"The point we got tonight was huge," Knodel said. "We couldn't take a loss there."
Knodel had no points as the Wildcats beat the Minutemen 4-0
Andrew MacWilliam - North Dakota Fighting Sioux, NCAA
MacWilliam had 2 assists including on the game winner, as the fighting sioux won the game 4-2
No points for Andrew in a 2-2 tie with the Beavers.
Dennis Robertson - Brown Bears, NCAA
Robertson assisted on the Bears only goal of the game as they fell 4-1 to Cornell.
Robertson had no points in the Bears 5-1 win, and the win got them home ice for their first playoff round vs Clarkson next weekend.
I'd like to point out how dumb these two school are that both their logos are big red C's.
At least Cornell added a bear.
*All team logos come from Cris Creamers Sportslogos.net