What seemed like a turning point in the season for Carter Verhaeghe a couple of weeks back, became reality as the 19 year old went on a torrid run, extending his point streak to 8 games before it was snapped against Saginaw on Saturday. Verhaeghe picked up 3 goals and 6 assists in the six games since our last update, including a 4 assist, +5 outing against the Petes, the team they are chasing and closing in on for the final playoff spot. The gap now stands at just 3 points. Niagara and Verhaeghe welcomed back Brandon Perlini on Dec, 4th having recovered from his injury. This should help them in their hunt of the teams ahead of them in the standings.
Frédérik Gauthier has been on a tear of his own in the “Q”, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists in the first 3 games of the month. This stretched his points streak to 7 games (5g 4a). After a slow start coming off injury that saw him record just 1 assist in his first 4 games, Gauthier has points in 10 of his last 11, 7 goals and 6 assists. While they seem like weak numbers for a player in his third year of junior, please keep in mind that the big (huge) center is also his teams best defensive forward and draws all the heavy assignments in trying to keep Quebec’s opponents in check. The fact that he can average just about a point-per-game, play the checking role and take almost all the key defensive and special teams face offs should make you think hard about the special talent he has, a talent that has not gone unnoticed by Hockey Canada for three straight years now. Yes, Gauthier is off to represent his country once again this holiday season, as the juniors hope to win gold on home soil. Go Canada Go.
The news is not all good for Cody Donaghey however, as he was injured on Dec. 10th in a game against Moncton. It was an unnecessary knee-on-knee and Donaghey looks like he may have sustained a major injury, though that is unclear at this time. You can read more about it and watch the video here. Prior to that he had recorded 3 assists in 3 games after going pointless in 5. It would be a shame if an injury slows his remarkable progression, one that saw him land his entry level deal after being an invite to the Leafs Rookie Camp this past summer.
Six games since the last update and 4 more assists as Kootenay Ice defensman Rinat Valiev keeps rolling along as does his team. After a horrible start to the season Valiev has rebounded and so have the Ice, going 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, having inched themselves into the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The 6′ 2”, 208 pound rear guard is quickly closing in on the numbers he posted last season, 5 goals and 23 assist, which he put up in 55 games. Incidentally, this is just Valiev’s second year of junior. Prior to that he played 36 games during the 2012-13 season with the Indiana Ice of the USHL.
Minnesota-Duluth resumed their schedule on Dec. 5th after a weekend off, with back-to-back games at home to Colorado College. In the first game, Tony Cameranesi sparked the comeback with his 3rd goal of the season as M-D came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in OT. Toninato set up the tying goal with less than 3 minutes left to force overtime. The following night, the Bulldogs scored 4 in the 3rd to win it going away 7-2. Toninato scored the 2nd and Cameranesi scored the 4th. This past weekend M-D travelled to Houghton Michigan to play two against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. They split the series, winning 3-1 on Friday, but dropping the rematch 4-3 a night later. Toninato scored 3 times in the two games, while Cameranesi added 2 more assists to his season total. The team is now on an extended holiday break and do not play again until the New Year.
J.J. Piccinich remained at 1 assist for the season and as anticipated, Boston University slipped in the national ranking from 1st to 3rd after a couple poor outings the weekend before. They did however, get back on track with two wins and a tie in their 3 games since the last update.
There is much to report on Nolan Vesey, as the Maine freshman scored not once, but twice over the last two weeks. His first college goal came against UMass Lowell and momentarily put the Black Bears ahead 2-1 before the River Hawks came back to win 3-2 in OT. On Dec 12th, the 3rd liner picked up his 2nd goal, tying the game on the PP, as Maine came from behind to defeat UNH 5-2. Being a freshman, it’s an encouraging sign to see Vesey getting some power play time, he must be making an impression with his play.
Maple Leafs scouts will have to play closies, or toss a coin to see who stays in the east to cover the World Juniors, and who heads west to keep a watchful eye on 5th round selection Dakota Joshua. Besides having arguably the best name of any player in the Leafs system, Joshua is the latest prospect to represent his country at a world hockey championship, as he was selected by USA Hockey to play in the World Junior A Challenge, this year being held in Kindersley Saskatchewan. This is a great honour for an excited Joshua, as he stated via twitter. The tournament kicked off on Sunday and the American squad plays its first game on the 15th against Switzerland. You can follow Joshua and the rest of the results on the Hockey Canada tournament page.
They say good things come in three and with William Nylander being selected to the Swedish National Junior team is a perfect example of that. It will be good for Nylander to play and demonstrate his skills against the best junior age talent from around the globe and for Leafs fans to see him so close to home. This won’t be the first time he has worn his countries colours, having played in the U-17’s in 2011-12 and the U-18’s each of the two years. His international stats are beyond ridiculous, 6 goals and 10 assists in 7 games last year alone being an example of this.
Before leaving for North America, Nylander and MODO played 4 games in the last two weeks, losing the first 3 before defeating Linkoping on Saturday 2-1 in OT. Nylander bruised the water bottle with a short-side snipe just 26 seconds into the extra frame. The game before that, his 7th of the season was his team’s 2nd of the game.
So if good things come in threes, do great things come in fours? News came out on Sunday (shout out to ingy) that Andreas Johnson has been called upon to play for Sweden’s National Senior team in the Eurohockey Tour. If you’re like me and have never heard of it before, here is some info on it.
In other international hockey news, Frolunda has moved on to the semi-finals of the Champions Hockey League after beating IFK Helsinki 5-3 on Dec. 9th. The two teams each won a game in the quarter final round, but Frolunda advanced having outscored Helsinki 6-5. Johnson scored Frolunda’s 2nd goal and assisted on the winner in the victory. They will now play Finnish squad Karpat Oulu beginning Jan. 13th.
In SHL action, Johnson and Frolunda have been slumping, as the Indians lost all 4 games over the last two weeks, one in a SO. They have scored just 5 goals in those 4 games, though the good news is that Johnson scored 2 of them, bringing his season total to 13, tied for tops in the league with two other players, including ex-Marlie Greg Scott.
Swedish Hockey League Stats
Champions Hockey League Stats (Tournament)
Champions Hockey League Stats (Playoffs)
Pretty much status quo for Pierre Engvall as he continues to yo-yo back and forth between Frolunda and Oskarshamn. When he plays for his junior team, he lines up on the top line. When dressed for Oskarshamn, he plays on the 3rd line.
J20 SuperElit Stats
Fabrice Herzog went scoreless in his two games lately. Zug remains in 5th place the Swiss ‘A’ League, 8 points behind league leading HC Davos.