Brandon Gormley benefitting from extended post-season with Shawinigan

By Andrew Sykes
Photo: Defenseman Brandon Gormley was traded from the Moncton Wildcats to the Shawinigan Cataractes late in the 2011-12 regular season. The move has paid off for Shawinigan as Gormley has been a key contributor for them at the Memorial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

The Phoenix Coyotes AHL affiliate in Portland failed to qualify for the post-season, leaving a number of team prospects out in the cold when it comes to playoff hockey. There were however several prospects in the CHL and in Europe that performed well for their respective teams.

Here are some of the stand-out performances from those Coyotes prospects who were lucky enough to have their seasons extended into the playoffs:

CHL

Among the Phoenix prospects who play in the Canadian Hockey League, the best playoff performances were turned in by two players who have so far taken very different routes in their young careers.

A first-round pick in 2010, Mark Visentin has been the organization's top goaltending prospect ever since his draft-day and for the second straight year he ranked as one of the top goalies in the OHL. Last year's OHL Goalie of the Year, Visentin helped his Niagara IceDogs advance to the OHL Championship series. Going into the series as the favorites to beat the London Knights, Niagara fell flat after winning the first game and went on to lose the series 4-1.

Although the end result was sure to be a disappointment for Visentin, the loss still shouldn't discount the fine season he had. In 20 playoff games, the 19-year-old had a record of 13-7 with a 2.51 goals against average and a .920 save percentage as the IceDogs ended up one step short of the OHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Visentin in terms of status within the organization is Brendan Shinnimin. An undrafted free agent signing, the diminutive Shinnimin enjoyed a phenomenal regular season in which he led the WHL in scoring. In the playoffs he didn't miss a beat averaging well over a point-per-game with seven goals and 16 assists in 15 games. The 21-year-old overage forward had his impressive season and junior career come to an end in the Western Conference Championship of the WHL playoffs at the hands of the Portland Winterhawks.

The club's second ranked goaltender, Louis Domingue of the Quebec Remparts had a solid playoff but endured one of the tougher defeats. Up three games to none in the second round of the QMJHL playoffs, the Remparts blew their big lead and lost at home in game seven to the Halifax Moosehead.

Second round picks Lucas Lessio (2011) and Phillip Lane (2010) both played well in their brief playoff runs.

Though Shawinigan lost in the second round of the QMJHL playoffs, defenseman Brandon Gormley's season was extended into the Memorial Cup, as the Shawinigan Cataractes host this season. The extended layover seems to have benefitted Gormley as he so far has two goals and two assists in two tournament games.

Europe

 

In Europe, the likes of Viktor Tikhonov, Jonas Ahnelov, and Alexander Ruuttu saw playoff action, with Tikhonov performing the best of the three.

After playing last year in the AHL, the 24-year-old winger returned to Russia where he enjoyed a good year on a talented team in St. Petersburg. In the regular season he finished second on the team with 17 goals and continued to score in the playoffs. In 10 games Tikhonov contributed four goals and two assists for the Russian side that advanced to the KHL Conference Finals.

A second-round pick in 2011, Ruuttu saw playoff action with two different teams. The 19-year-old Finnish forward appeared in eight games with Jokerit's junior team registering a goal and an assist, and he also skated in four playoff games with Kiekko-Vantaa in the Finnish second division where he was held pointless.

A veteran Phoenix prospect at 24-years-old, Jonas Ahnelov returned to his native Sweden this year and played well for Modo. He failed to record a point in six playoff games but was an effective defender for the team whose strength was their defensive play.

AHL

While the Coyotes AHL team failed to qualify for the playoffs, there was one Phoenix prospect who did see some playoff action. Brock Trotter was involved in an AHL trade that sent him from Portland to the Winnipeg Jets farm-team in St. John's.

The 25-year-has gone on to have an excellent post-season, leading the IceCaps in scoring with 10 points through 11 playoff games. Advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Trotter and his team-mates will look to keep their Calder Cup hopes alive against the Norfolk Admirals.

Notes and Signings

Hoping to land a steal from the list of unsigned players, the Coyotes have been active in the free agent market. Much like when they plucked the high-scoring Andy Miele a year ago, the Coyotes may have signed a similar player in Brendan Shinnimin. An overaged forward, Shinnimin dominated the WHL in the regular season, winning the league's scoring title and followed that up with his aforementioned playoff performance.

The club also signed 22-year-old forward Scott Arnold from Niagara University, and signed two draftees, Mike Lee and Chris Brown to entry-level contracts.

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