Hello all, time for another week in the world of Blue Jackets prospects!
We’re starting off in Grand Rapids as the Monsters finished up last week’s road trip. Just 20 seconds after the Griffins got on the board Jordan Maletta got behind the Griffins defense and gathered a loose puck before sliding a backhand by the Grand Rapids goalie for his second of the season. Just under five minutes later, after a long sequence in the Monsters end, Jacob Graves fired a shot that was semi blocked with the puck going to Aaron Palushaj who was all alone in front. Palushaj fired a backhand to make it 2-1. Later in the first, Ryan Craig stole the puck along the boards and found a pinching in Graves who fired a shot for his first pro goal and first multipoint game. 44 seconds later the Griffins struck beginning a string of three straight Griffins goals to make it 4-3 in the third period after a scoreless second. Just under three minutes later, The Great Dane got on the board. At the redline, Oliver Bjorkstrand gathered a loose puck, skated into the zone and fired a shot from just above the dots to tie it at four. The game went to overtime and then a shootout. Palushaj scored in the third round to keep the Monsters alive but first round pick Evgeni Svechnikov won it for the Griffins in the fourth round. In the shootout loss, Anton Forsberg made 42 saves.
Up next for a Monsters was a back to back with the Chicago Wolves. After two scoreless periods and three fights, Magnus Paajarvi got the Wolves on the board. A few minutes later, Alex Broadhurst struck in close to tie it at one. Very late in the third, it was one of the Monsters gray beards being the hero. With 20 seconds left, Daniel Zaar got the puck to TJ Tynan who fired a shot that was stopped but a pinching in Jamie Sifers got the puck and fired a backhand to win it with 15 seconds remaining on his first goal of the season. In the win, Forsberg made 23 saves for his 50th career AHL victory.
The rematch on Saturday, started ugly, (not as ugly as the Wolves alternate jerseys which they wore this weekend but still pretty ugly). The canines took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. One of those goals came in the final minute of the period to boot. The second period was when the Monsters got going. Starting off on a Wolves power play, off a draw, Justin Scott skated in on a two on one with Nick Moutrey who got the puck at just about the circles and fired to make it 2-1. Late in the second the Monsters struck again when Zaar passed to Sonny Milano. Milano fired a shot that was deflected behind the net by Zaar with Sonny gathering and pulling off a wraparound to make it 2-2. In the third, Markus Hannikainen took a pass from Palushaj, skated in and on a second effort scored his team leading fifth goal of the season. Like the night before, the Monsters scored a late goal when out of a Maletta board battle, Scott got the puck and skated in on an empty net for his third of the season. In the victory, Forsberg made it two in a row with 16 saves.
Kole Sherwood-Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Season Stats 16GP 7-13-20 +9 6PIM
It was a short week for the Firebirds as they only had two games. First up against Peterborough, Kole was held without a point in a 4-3 shootout win while taking a season high matching seven shots.
Up next in a game against Windsor, Kole scored one of those “oh the goalie would like to have that one back” goals. Early in the third, with the Birds trailing 2-1, Kole got the puck just above the center redline and skated to the blueline before firing a shot that made it past the Spits goalie to make it 2-2. Later in the third, with the Spitfires regaining the lead just 28 seconds after Kole’s goal, Kole picked up an assist on the game tying goal. Kole took a pass as he skated backwards and sent the puck out front with Mathieu Henderson getting the puck to Ryan Moore who scored to make it 3-3 in a 4-3 overtime win. In the win Kole was named third star.
Pierre-Luc Dubois-Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Season Stats 13GP 4-7-11 +5 14PIM
Pierre continued his strong play of late by picking up three points in a win over Rimouski. Starting off in the second, out of a board battle the puck went into the slot and began a tic tac toe sequence with PLD tapping the puck behind him to Massimo Carozza who made it 3-1 Eagles. After two Oceanic goals, the Jackets top pick would strike. Early in the third, Carozza got the puck behind the net and found Dubois just below the circle where he snapped a shot to make it 4-3. Just under two minutes later, PLD picked up another assist when he got the puck to ex-Jackets prospect Olivier LeBlanc. LeBlanc promptly scored with a wraparound to make it 5-3 in a 6-3 Cape Breton win. In the win, Pierre-Luc was named first star.
Pierre-Luc went without a point in the Eagles next two games.
As for next week, Pierre-Luc will take part in the CIBC Canada Russia Series. A two game series in which a team of QMJHL players take on a team of Russians including fellow Jackets prospect, Vitaly Abramov.
Vitaly Abramov-Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Season Stats 19GP 12-12-24 -10 28PIM
The Russian Meteor earned his first point of his first game last week early when he passed the puck to Zack MacEwan who skated in and fired with Austin Eastman resulting in his first of the season. Gatineau won the game 4-3.
Up next against Drummondville, Vitaly picked up his seventh multi-point game of the season. Early in the second, with the Piques leading 2-0, MacEwan fired a shot that was stopped with Vitaly picking up the rebound and sending a cross-crease pass back where Macewan had an empty net to shoot into. After two Voltigeur goals, Vitaly helped out again. He took a cross-rink pass and fired a shot that Alex Dostie must have tipped (it’s hard to tell from the video). The Olympiques won the game 8-4.
Closing out the week against Val-d’Or, Vitaly again helped open the scoring. Early in the first, Vitaly got the puck at his own blueline and skated down the wing and around the Foreurs defense before sliding it past the Drillers goalie (kid didn’t even move) to make it 1-0 on his 12th goal of the season. In the 3-2 Gatineau win, Vitaly was named first star.
As for next week, as I said above, Abramov will dress for the Russian team in the CIBC Canada Russia series which could be seen as a audition for the Russian World Junior team.
Calvin Thurkauf-Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Season Stats 17GP 9-9-18 +3 31PIM
A very light but successful week for Calvin and the Rockets. The team played one game that they won 7-1 and the Swiss Beast had three points. Calvin started the scoring early in the first. Calvin took a pass from Dillon Dube just above the goal line before spinning and, on a second jab, scored his eighth of the season. Later in the game, Calvin picked up his first assist when he took a pass in the neutral zone and entered zone before passing to Nick Merkley who snapped a shot for his sixth of the season. Midway through the third period, Calvin picked up his second assist on Cal Foote’s (yes he’s that guys son) first goal of the season. It’s a little hard to see from the highlights but follow the link to see where Calvin made it 6-1 in a 7-1 win. In the victory Calvin would be named 1st star.
Peter Thome-Omaha Lancers (USHL)
Season Stats 10GP 6-1-1 3.01GAA .897Sv%
Much like Calvin, it was a won and done (see what I did there) for Peter and the Lancers. Omaha welcomed the Sioux Falls Stampede to Ralston Arena, and in the 4-3 Lancers win, Peter only had to make 13 saves for his sixth win of the season. The six wins put Peter in the middle of a logjam tied for third in the USHL.
Kevin Stenlund-HV71 (SHL)
Season Stats 13GP 5-2-7 +2 2PIM
Fresh off an international break, Kevin and the Chainsaws faced a back to back with the Vaxjo Lakers. In the second, with HV71 trailing 2-0 and on the power play (Josh Hennessey charged a HV71 player into his own goalie), Ted Brithen snapped a shot that was tipped perfectly by Martin Thornberg but stopped. Kevin was at the goal front and put the puck past the Lakers goalie to make it 2-1 in a 4-2 HV71 loss.
Kevin was held pointless in the rematch. Kevin’s five goals is currently good enough to have him in a tie for second on HV71.
Veeti Vainio-KooKoo/Liiga (loaned to Peliitat-Mestis Finnish 2nd League)
Mestis Stats 2GP 1-1-2 +2 2PIM
Last week it was announced that, after coming off the injured list, Veeti was loaned to Peliitat in Mestis which is the second highest level in Finland. In his debut for the…yeah we’ll work on a nickname…team, Veeti picked up a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over IPK. In the win, Veeti played 15:33 good enough for third amongst dmen. But to keep that in perspective, the leaders played 37:37 and 28:08.
Veeti was held pointless in his next game but did play 25:13 which, again, was third among dmen (the leader played almost 40 minutes which can’t be right…right?)
Elvis Merzlikins-HC Lugano (National League A)
Season Stats 15GP 8W 2.92GAA .919SV% 1SO
Elvis and the Panthers opened the week against Lausanne HC. In the 2-0 HCL win, Elvis made 41 saves in his eighth win of the season.
In the Panther’s next game, Elvis was even more busy than the previous game. In a rematch of last year’s final, Elvis faced 46 shots and made 44 saves in a 2-1 loss to SC Bern.
Vladislav Gavrikov-Lokomotiv (KHL)
Season Stats 25GP 1-3-4 +6 22PIM
Last week, Vladislav was held without a point in a 4-1 loss to Severstal and in a 3-1 win over CSKA before being the Train’s lone highlight in a blowout loss to SKA.
Saying SKA is good is an understatement. The firehorses (their nightmare fuel of a mascot) have only lost once in regulation in 31 games and goalie Igor Shestyorkin has eight shutouts in his 22 games. It was Vladislav who kept him from getting shutout number nine. Late in the third with the Trains on the power play, Alexander Polunin sent a cross rink pass to Yegor Kroshkov who fired a shot that was stopped before Vladislav knocked in the rebound for his first of the season. The game ended in a 7-1 SKA victory.
There you have it, folks, another week in the world of CBJ prospects. Next week we’ll have international hockey to talk about along with an update on the Jackets’ NCAA prospects.