The Barrie Colts are one of the top teams in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. They boast an impressive offense with Kevin Labanc (SJS) leading the league in scoring, and Julius Nattinen (ANA) and Andrew Mangiapane (CGY) providing secondary scoring. They also have impressive backstop MacKenzie Blackwood (NJD) holding the fort between the pipes.
Andersson, a second round pick for the Flames in 2015, was acquired by Barrie in the 2014 CHL Import Draft to help stabilize the club’s defensive core. Andersson had a productive OHL rookie campaign in 2014-15, scoring at a point-per-game pace in the regular season, and he is on a similar track this season. The Swede recorded 20 points in his first 23 games through the month of November, but struggled a little defensively. In the first month of this season, Andersson was a -7 through 12 games, including a combined -5 rating in back-to-back games. Since the beginning of November, however, he has a +24 rating and has been even more involved offensively.
In January, the physical rearguard recorded 17 points (all assists) in 13 games, including five multi-assist games. He only had a minus rating in two of those games. Dating back to Dec. 6th, he has gone pointless in just three of 21 games. Andersson leads all OHL defensemen in scoring and was named the league’s top defenseman for the month of January.
Cole Bardreau, RW, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
One of the more feel-good stories in the AHL is Cole Bardreau. The Fairport, New York native was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent following four years at Cornell University, including a 2012-13 campaign in which he missed half a season due to a neck injury that nearly left him paralyzed. His first AHL season got off to a slow start as he struggled to earn ice time due to injury and healthy scratches in the first few months of the season, but he found a comfort level in January. Before the start of the New Year, Bardreau had just three points in 13 games; in January, he led the Phantoms in scoring with 12 points in 11 games and was also named AHL Rookie of the Month. His best stretch of the month came in three games from Jan. 25-29 where he scored five goals and added an assist, including an overtime winner against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Kevin Labanc, RW, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Kevin Labanc has racked up the accolades this season, earning CHL and OHL Player of the Week awards throughout the season – and January was his best month. He recorded 30 points in 13 games in the month, and dating back to the beginning of December has 45 points in 20 games. Labanc kicked off the month with an incredible performance on Jan. 2nd against North Bay, where he scored three goals and added four assists in a 12-2 win. He was an astounding +9 in that game. Two games later, he notched another hat trick and set up three goals in a 7-4 win over the Mississauga Steelheads. Labanc is currently leading the OHL in scoring, having overtaken impressive London duo Christian Dvorak (ARI) and Mitch Marner (TOR), as well as Dylan Strome (ARI), all of whom were away at the World Junior Championship. He is currently one point ahead of Dvorak with 90 points in 47 games.
Tyler Motte, C, University of Michigan (Big-10)
A lot of the attention at the University of Michigan has been directed toward Kyle Connor (WPG), the high-scoring freshman who has been playing at an extremely high level since being left off the United States’ World Junior team. But Connor is one-third of the nation’s top line, the other two players being J.T. Compher (COL) and, of course, Tyler Motte. All three players are among the country’s top seven scorers. Motte is seventh with 35 points in 23 games, but leads the NCAA in goals with 22. In January, the trio was at their best and Motte was the biggest beneficiary of their play, scoring 18 points (10 goals, eight assists). The junior and fourth round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 also scored his first career hat trick in an 8-6 win over Ohio State on Jan. 17.
Samuel Montembeault, G, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
It isn’t easy being a goaltender in junior hockey, particularly in the high-scoring QMJHL, but Samuel Montembeault has made tremendous strides in January since returning from a stint with the Canadian World Junior team where he served as the team’s third goaltender. The lanky netminder posted an abysmal .866 save percentage in November. He played better in his two December games, allowing just three goals, but lost both decisions. The Florida Panthers pick went 5-3-0 in nine January appearances, however, allowing just 16 goals. He gave up four goals in his first start of the month, but gave up more than two goals in just one of his next seven starts, including a shutout on Jan. 17th against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The retooling Armada are one of the worst teams in the QMJHL this season, so Montembeault posting a winning record in the month of January is no small feat.
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