Joshua Roy is continuing where he left off in Montreal’s rookie camp. It was quite apparent that he’d taken his office training seriously for the first time in his life as he showed up at camp 25 pounds lighter. The loss of weight did wonders for his skating speed, and it also showed in his work ethic as he was able to compete for his entire shifts thanks to the improved conditioning. Roy scored two goals and two assists in a 7-6 Sherbrooke win vs. Baie Comeau, picking up the game’s first star and vaulting into a tie for first place in QMJHL scoring with five goals and 12 points in just six games. He was named the game’s first star.
Joe Vrbetic has been lights out in North Bay’s net ever since he allowed four goals on nine shots in the first period of his season debut. Vrbetic stopped 42 of 43 shots last night in a 7-1 win against Mississauga, earning his third-straight victory to start the season on a team that has wallowed at the bottom of the OHL standings for much of the past few seasons. Vrbetic’s save percentage on the season is now .93, fifth-best in the OHL. His SP since the first period of the season opener is .971. He was named the second star in the win. It looks like the Canadiens have made yet another terrific seventh-round selection.
Prince Albert captain Kaiden Guhle had a rougher second game back in the WHL last night as his Raiders fell to Moose Jaw 4-1. Guhle was on the ice for goals against on consecutive shifts in the third period that salted the game away. He was held pointless and was -2 on the night. Look for a bounce-back game for him at home tonight vs. Medicine Hat.
Luke Tuch is off to a slow start for Boston University. He was pointless last night in a shocked 3-2 loss to Sacred Heart, and he has failed to register a point through his first three games of the season.
Hamilton center Jan Mysak failed to register a point last night but was a defensive force in a 4-0 win vs. Niagara. Mysak once again led all Hamilton forwards in ice time, and is one of the better two-way centers in the OHL.
Sophomore winger Blake Biondi continued his strong start to the season for Minnesota-Duluth last night, registering five shots on goal in a 5-1 loss to powerhouse Michigan. He was UMD’s best forward in the game, and his line spent very little time in its own zone thanks in large part to the effort, skating, smart plays and effectiveness of Biondi. The improvement in Bondi’s game is significant, and it all starts with his improved skating. He has much better edges and jump. He is one of the most improved players in college hockey, and coach Sandelin has taken notice. In the second period alone, Biondi had eight shifts. In the quarter-final 5OT win last spring over North Dakota…a game that went eight periods…Biondi did not play eight shifts in the entire game. Biondi plated more than 15 minutes vs. Michigan, including most of any UMD forward on the PP. He is quickly gaining the trust of his coaches, and deservedly so.
Here are some highlights from his game last night:
Oliver Kapanen made his return from an infection today in KalPa’s 3-2 loss to TPS. Kapanen played fourth-line center and logged 9:41 in ice time. Not a bad amount considering he was out for a month and is just 18 years of age. Look for his role to increase as he gets back into game shape. He was 44 percent in the faceoff dot.
Senior center Brett Stapley had another assist last night in Denver’s 4-1 win vs. air Force. Stapley is tied with four other Pioneers for second in team scoring through three games with four points.
Freshman goalie Jakub Dobes did not play in Ohio State’s 4-3 win vs. Connecticut last night and has started the season as the backup behind junior Ryan Snowden, who let in three goals in 16 shots. It looks like for now the club is going to split starts between the two netminders but don’t be surprised if Dobes becomes the main starter as the season goes on. Snowden has a .878 GAA through two games while Dobe’s SP in his only start was .941.
Rhett Pitlick did not play in Minnesota’s 2-1 loss to St. Cloud state last night. He’s failed to get into the lineup yet this season. Word is that he’s nursing an injury, but I’m not sure if it’s still preventing him from playing. Minnesota has a pretty stacked lineup. Jack Smith also did not play for Sioux Falls last night, and he has failed to pick up a point in three USHL games this season. Smith should be producing at a ppg clip at the USHL level but he has failed to find his confidence in junior. He may be hard-pressed to find a regular role on Minnesota next season alongside Pitlick.
Dmitri Kostenko has been quiet offensively in the past few weeks (pointless in nine games) after his strong start production-wise for Khimik in the VHL (Russia’s equivalent to the AHL). He’s been asked to concentrate on his defensive game and he has done just that, not having a minus game in his last 13 contests (+5). He played 21 minutes in his last game, mighty impressive for an 18-year-old defenceman in the VHL. Look for him to be in the mix for Russia’s WJC team.
Former Canadiens’ second-round pick Joni Ikonen had a goal and an assist yesterday, and now has accumulated eight points in ten games. Montreal didn’t sign him this past summer because he had suffered two major knee injuries and played very little after he was drafted. Nice to see him rounding his game back into form.