Here we go folks, our first round recap of the Blue Jackets CHL prospects. All seven CHL prospects made the playoffs with only four moving on. We have a lot to cover, so lets get to it.
A quick note: I’ll be adding stats as of when this blog was posted so it could have some stats from the second round.
Kole Sherwood-Flint Firebirds(OHL)
Final Playoff Stats 5GP 4-1-5 -2 10PIM
Lost Series 4-1 to Sault Ste Marie
Kole and the Firebirds took on the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds in the two-seven matchup in the OHL’s Western Conference playoffs. Starting off in game one, it looked about as expected as the Hounds roared out to a 3-0 lead before the Birds got on the board. Late in the second, Kole started a scoring sequence when he passed to Ryan Moore. Moore’s shot was stopped but Kole gathered the puck in the corner and found Mathieu Henderson who hammered the puck home to make 3-1 Hounds. The Firebirds scored 11 seconds later to make it 3-2 but the Hounds added two more to make it a 5-2 Soo win.
In game two, Kole opened the scoring early in the first. the Hounds gave the puck away with Maurizio Colella getting it and deking through the defense before dropping a no look pass to Kole who had a wide open net to shoot into. The goal made the score 1-0 Firebirds in the Firebirds first franchise playoff win (6-3) .
When the series moved south to Flint, Kole again opened the scoring early in the first. He intercepted a pass at the blueline before skating in and sniping a shot top corner to make it 1-0 in a 3-1 game three loss.
Game four was an ugly one for the Firebirds but Kole added another score to his stat line. Late in the game with the Firebirds trailing 5-1, off a draw a Flint player tapped the puck back to Kole in the slot where he unleashed a monster shot to make it 5-2.
In the do or die game five, the Firebirds let the Hounds take a 1-0 lead before Kole scored the final goal of the Firebirds season. Late in the first, Kole and his linemates skated in on a three on one with Everett Clark sliding a pass that Kole hammered in to tie the game at one. Sadly it would be all Greyhounds the rest of the way. They scored five straight to win 6-1 and end the Firebirds season. Kole led the Firebirds in scoring making him the franchise leader in playoff points.
Days after the series, it was announced that Kole was assigned to the Cleveland Monsters to finish the season but we’ll have more on that in our next Monsters recap.
Dante Salituro-London Knights (OHL)
Playoff Stats 9GP 0-2-2 +2 4PIM
Won Series 4-3 over Windsor
Dante and the Knights opened the playoffs against the Windsor Spitfires in the five vs. four matchup. Dante was quiet in the series’ first four games when the Spitfires pulled out to a 3-1 lead.
For game five, Dante helped open the scoring when he shot wide and gathered the puck before finding Evan Bouchard who hammered a shot towards the net. The attempt was stopped but Robert Thomas was there to make it 1-0 in a 2-1 victory.
After going without a point in game six, Dante picked up another assist in game seven. Dante had a near miss in the first period but it was waved off. In the second with London leading 1-0, Dante sped in to the zone and passed to Owen MacDonald who passed to Max Jones who made it 2-0 in a 3-2 win. The Knights won the series 4-3 setting up what has seemed to be annual matchup with the Erie Otters in the next round.
Pierre-Luc Dubois-Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
Playoff Stats 5GP 2-4-6 +5 8PIM
Won Series 4-0 over Drummondville
PLD and the Armada faced off against the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the first round. In game one, PLD went without a point but tooka kneeing penalty that only earned two minutes in the game but ended up garnering Pierre-Luc a one game suspension meaning he missed game two.
In his return to play in game three, PLD responded by getting on the scoresheet. Late in the first, PLD entered the zone, skated into the slot and absorb a hit and while falling before finding Alexander Alain who fired to make it 2-0 in a 4-1 Armada win.
In game four, after Drummondville took a 1-0 lead, PLD got the Boats on the board. With Blainville on the power play, off a drop pass, Alex Barre-Boulet found Pierre. PLD then skated down the side wall and into the slot before deking past a defender and snapping a shot to tie the game at one. Late in the game Pierre-Luc picked up an assist on Miguel Picard’s empty net goal to make it 4-1 and seal the series sweep.
In the next round, Blainville will face off against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan who swept the Quebec Remparts.
Vitaly Abramov-Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Final Playoff Stats 7GP 1-6-7 +2 12PIM
Lost Series 4-3 to Cape Breton
Vitaly and his teammates were shutout in game one a 1-0 overtime loss.
Game two was a fun one along with being one of those “defense optional” games. Starting off in the first, Vitaly skated down the wing and went behind the net before throwing the puck out front to Zack MacEwan who made it 1-0. In the second with the Piques leading 4-2, Vitaly drove into the Eagles zone and went into the corner. He absorbed a hit but bounced the puck into the slot where Alexandre Landreville came off the bench, got the puck and fired it to make it 5-2 Gatineau. The Eagles stormed back to win game two 7-6 in overtime.
When the series switched to Gatineau for game three, Vitaly went without a point but he wouldn’t leave the arena empty handed as he received the Jean Beliveau Trophy for leading the QMJHL in scoring. The Olympiques lost the game 5-2 making game four is a “win or you’re done” game.
When you’re team is in a do or die game four, your stars better show up and boy, did Vitaly answer the call. Early in the first, Vitaly entered the zone and drew the attention of three Eagles before dropping the drop the puck to Yakov Trenin who fired a shot to make it 1-0. In the second off the bench, Vitaly got the puck and faked a shot before deking through the Eagles. He then either passed or fired a shot (hard to tell) that Jacob Lapierre gathered and shot to make it 3-1 Gatineau. Later in the second, after a bit of a scrambly sequence, Daniel Del Peggio got the puck at the wall and threw it in front with Vitaly right there where he scored what would be the game winner to make the series score 3-1. In the win, Vitaly was named first star.
Game five was another Olympiques win with Vitaly picking up another assist. Late in the game, in the Olympiques end off a draw, Vitaly got the puck and fought off a defender before passing to Alexandre Landreville who fired a shot the length of the ice to seal the 5-3 game five victory.
Vitaly was held off the scoresheet in a 5-1 game six win that forced another do or die game but for both teams this time.
In game seven, late in the third with Gatineau on the power play, Vitaly got the puck at the point and sent a pass to Yakov Trenin at the goal line where he snapped a shot off to tie the game at four. Cape Breton won the game and the series early in the resulting OT to clinch them the series.
Before the second round got started, the QMJHL had its annual Golden Puck Awards. At the awards Vitaly picked up the league’s Michel Briere Trophy presented to the league’s MVP making him the first Blue Jackets prospect to win the award. Vitaly was also named to the QMJHL’s 1st All-Star Team.
After the awards, Vitaly, like Kole Sherwood, was off to the Monsters. He joined the team in Milwaukee.
Calvin Thurkauf-Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Playoff Stats 8GP 1-4-5 E 12PIM
Won Series 4-2 over Kamloops
Calvin and the Rockets opened the playoffs against rival Kamloops. In game one, Calvin picked up an assist on Reid Gardiner’s power play goal to make it 3-0. The point came off a pass to Cal Foote who ended up finding Gardiner. In the 4-0 win Calvin would be named third star.
In game two, Calvin helped open the scoring early when he dropped a pass to Nick Merkley who passed to Cal Foote who buried it to make it 1-0 in a 3-2 game two win.
Calvin was held without a point in the series’ other four games which the teams split. Kelowna won the series 4-2 and set up the almost annual playoff series against the Portland Winterhawks.
Sam Ruopp-Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Final Playoff Stats 6GP 0-1-1 +2 2PIM
Lost Series 4-2 to Portland
Sam and the Cougars faced off against the Portland Winterhawks in the first round. Sam was his usual self and stayed off the scoresheet until game four when Prince George held a 2-1 series lead.
In the first, Sam received a pass from Jesse Gabrielle with Jared Bethune getting the rebound and throwing it out in back in front to Gabrielle who fired into an almost empty net to make it 2-0 in a 5-4 Cougars loss.
Sam went pointless in the rest of the series, ending his WHL career. Sam’s final career numbers are 258 games played with 16 goals and 75 assists for 91 points. He was a plus 35 player with 346 penalty minutes.
As of this writing, I’m not sure what the CBJ will do with Sam. The team will need to make a decision on whether they sign him or not.
Keegan Kolesar-Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Playoff Stats 6GP 3-9-12 +4 6PIM
Won Series 4-0 over Tri-City
Keegan led the TBirds charge through the first round of the playoffs. Starting off in game one, Keegan opened the scoring when Ethan Bear’s shot was stopped but Ryan Gropp gathered the rebound and found Keegan who fired a shot to make it 1-0. Moments later, Keegan picked up an assist on Seattle’s second goal. The specifics of the play are hard to discern from the highlights. Late in the third, fresh from the penalty box, Keegan received a pass at the redline, skated in and snapped a shot to make it a 4-2 Seattle win. Keegan was named second star of the game.
Keegan was quiet in game two (well, compared to game one). He picked up an assist on Scott Eansor’s goal to make it 2-0 in a 5-2 TBirds game two victory but the play didn’t make the highlights.
When the series switched to Kennewick, Keegan had one of the best games of his life. Folks, I’m going to be honest with you, Tri-City’s highlights are a little odd so its hard to describe all the plays as I prefer to do, but in the 9-2 victory, Keegan had five points going 1-4—5 on the night.
In the series finale, a 5-2 Thunderbirds win that gave them the series sweep, Keegan picked up two more assists to give him 11 points in four games. That tally puts him amongst the league leaders.
Quickly after the first round, the Thunderbirds put together this video of Keegan’s highlights from the season in one fancy video.
There you have it folks, you’re caught up on all the CBJ’s CHL prospects through the first round. We’ll be back next week with a final regular season update on the Monsters along with an update on Andrew Peeke and the Irish at the Frozen Four and Kevin Stenlund in the SHL playoffs.