Canadian world junior teammates Jared Cowen and Curtis Hamilton are each enjoying their most productive offensive seasons.
Meanwhile, several QMJHL players have been struggling, including Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Louis Leblanc.
Ontario Hockey League
Hot team: Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
The MasterCard Memorial Cup host Majors are pulling away from the pack with another red-hot week. Mississauga won three games in three nights against Brampton, Peterborough and Sarnia respectively to extend its winning-streak to four. The Majors lead the league with 76 points so far this season, eight more than Saginaw, the next closest team.
Cold team: Brampton Battalion
Things aren’t going as well for the team located a short drive away from our hot team. Brampton’s lost four straight games and won just twice in their past 10.
The Battalion shouldn’t need to worry about making the playoffs this season, but can’t afford to lose many more if they’re going to claim home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.
Game of the week: Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors vs. Windsor Spitfires, Thursday
This year’s Memorial Cup host will go up against the back-to-back champions in their final meeting of the regular season. Mississauga won the first time they met, 5-1, in the team’s second game of the season. These two teams went head-to-head last season away from the ice in bidding to host this year’s tournament. Since then, the Majors and Spitfires have hooked up on two trades which saw the Majors acquire veterans Justin Shugg and Marc Cantin for 16-year-olds Nick Ebert and Kerby Rychel. The Spitfires decided to make another run at an unprecedented third national championship this season. They will have no bigger test than against the Majors.
Canadian NHL teams’ OHL prospects:
Jarred Tinordi, Montreal (London) – drafted 22nd overall in 2010
The points are starting to come for the hulking defenceman.
Tinordi picked up an assist in two of three games last week with the Knights to give him seven on the season. Unfortunately, he was a minus-1 on the week. Tinordi is still searching for his first career OHL goal.
Greg McKegg, Toronto (Erie) – drafted 62nd overall in 2010
McKegg made an impression playing against his hometown team with three goals in a 6-4 win at London. He scored the winner and insurance markers in that game, but was held pointless and a minus-5 in the next two games against Owen Sound.
Alex Friesen, Vancouver (Niagara) – drafted 172nd overall in 2010
Friesen picked up a goal and one assist with a minus-1 rating in three games last week. He helped lead his team to five of a possible six points. The IceDogs have the second best record in the Eastern Conference.
Western Hockey League
Hot team: Red Deer Rebels
The Rebels are the hottest team in the league with 11 straight wins, all of which have come after a quiet trade deadline. Red Deer is unbeaten in regulation in its past 12 games and trail Saskatoon by just three points for first in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Rebels’ 114 goals against is by far the best in the league.
Cold team: Seattle Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds fell out of a playoff spot thanks to a recent slump.
Seattle’s losing streak is now eight games after two losses to Everett and another to Portland last week. The T-birds have just one point in their last eight contests and one win in their last 10. In spite of the team’s struggles, they remain just two points back of Kamloops for the final playoff spot.
Game of the week: Red Deer Rebels vs. Saskatoon Blades, Tuesday
There will be plenty on the line when the Rebels and Blades meet for the final time this season. Saskatoon holds the edge in the season series with two wins to one loss. The first meeting was a 2-1 win by Saskatoon while the other two were decidedly one-sided.
The Rebels won 7-1 on Oct. 30 then lost 7-3 on Jan. 1.
The Blades have a three-point lead for first in the Eastern Conference and hold two games in hand. One team’s big winning-streak will be snapped. Red Deer’s streak is at a current league-best 11 games, while Saskatoon has won its last five straight games.
Canadian NHL teams’ WHL prospects:
Jared Cowen, Ottawa (Spokane) – drafted ninth overall in 2009
Cowen set a new personal best by picking up his 31st point of the season in a loss to Tri-City on Saturday. The Chiefs captain had a goal and three assists in three games and a plus-2 rating. His plus-27 this season is tied with his rookie season’s total as best in his WHL career.
Ryan Howse, Calgary (Chilliwack) – drafted 74th overall in 2009
Howse picked up two assists in three games last week, but was a minus-7. He also failed to score his first goal in his last four games. Howse is enjoying a productive season with 55 points in 48 games, but his minus-22 is just two off his worst total in a season.
Curtis Hamilton, Edmonton (Saskatoon) – drafted 48th overall in 2010
Hamilton has already surpassed his most productive season in his four-year career with 53 points in 40 games. Last week, he scored once and picked up six assists with a plus-3 rating.
Brad Ross, Toronto (Portland) – drafted 43rd overall in 2010
Ross regained his scoring touch last week. He scored twice and had two assists for four points in three games. Ross has now picked up a point in each of his last five games after failing to pick up a point in four of his previous five games.
Max Reinhart, Calgary (Kootenay) – drafted 64th overall in 2010
Reinhart overtook Kevin King for the team lead in points with 55 in 51 games this season. He scored once and had four assists in three games last week with all his points coming in two games against Lethbridge.
Québec Major Junior Hockey League
Hot team: Saint John Sea Dogs
Although the Shawinigan Cataractes’ winning-streak is longer, the Sea Dogs claim the top spot with a 12-0-1-0 record and a six-game streak. Saint John’s last regulation loss was before the calendar turned in a 5-4 decision to Acadie-Bathurst on Dec. 30. The Sea Dogs opened up an eight point gap on Montreal for first overall in league standings.
Cold team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar
The Drakkar failed to snap their losing streak during their recently completed Maritimes Division road swing. Baie-Comeau’s losing streak is now six games after losing all four last week. The losses to Halifax and Cape Breton severely hindered any chance of making the playoffs this season. Baie-Comeau is 10 points back of the last spot.
Game of the week: Gatineau Olympiques vs. Shawinigan Cataractes, Friday
It will be a big week for both teams as playoff positioning remains at the forefront for the two Telus West Division foes.
Gatineau is mired in a slump with just four wins in its last 10 games. The Olympiques are now third in the division standings, 10 points back of first-place Montreal. The streaking Cataractes trail the Olympiques by just two points with three games in hand. Shawinigan won its last seven and nine of the past 10 games.
Canadian NHL teams’ QMJHL prospects:
Louis Leblanc, Montreal (Montreal) – drafted 18th overall in 2009
Leblanc seemingly hit his first wall in major junior play this season. The first-year forward was a minus-2 with no points in four road games in Bathurst, P.E.I. and twice in Cape Breton last week.
His team still managed two wins.
Olivier Roy, Edmonton (Acadie-Bathurst) – drafted 133rd overall in 2009
The week started on the right foot, but Roy was unable to keep it going in his final two starts. He stopped 34-of-35 shots in a win over Montreal, but allowed four goals in back-to-back losses to Québec and Drummondville.
Those were his first losses since he returned from the world juniors.
Jakub Culek, Ottawa (Rimouski) – drafted 76th overall in 2010
Culek picked up an assist on Etienne Boutet’s goal in a 5-4 loss to Québec on Friday. He was a plus-2 in two games and now sits at five goals and 11 assists through 38 games this season.
Steven Anthony, Vancouver (Saint John) – drafted 187th overall in 2009
Anthony maintained his point-per-game pace this season despite a dip in production. He scored once in three games last week, which was his lone point in the last four games. Anthony has 43 points in 43 games.