AHL Western Conference Notebook, January, 2016: Checkers chasing IceHogs, Rantanen brings gold to San Antonio

by Sean Shapiro
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Esa Lindell - Texas Stars

Photo: Texas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell received his first NHL call-up to the parent Dallas Stars and played in his first NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings (courtesy of John Rivera/Icon Sportswire)

Back in October, the Charlotte Checkers were homeless.

With renovations ongoing at Bojangles Coliseum, the Checkers didn’t play a home game until mid-November.

“I think we really bonded during that time,” Checkers defenseman Trevor Carrick said. “When you spend that much time playing away from home, it really builds a team.” Read more»

Prospect Faceoff: Premier NCAA matchup in Boston, WJC participants ramp up in CHL action

by David Hahn
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William Nylander - Mississauga Steelheads; Olli Juolevi - London Knights - Prospect Faceoff for 1/14/16

Photo: 2016 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads and Olli Juolevi of the London Knights go head-to-head in an OHL match this weekend after both turning in impressive performances at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images and Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Prospect Faceoff returns in 2016 with a huge home-and-home series in Boston, as two of NCAA hockey’s best programs play a pair of games this weekend. With the World Junior Championship now complete, a number of high-end players return to their regular lineups and are ready for a big second half. Among them, two high-end 2016 draft-eligible skaters go head-to-head, a blue-chip Philadelphia Flyers prospect returns to the WHL, and one of Switzerland’s finest has a new home in the QMJHL. Plenty more this week as Prospect Faceoff ramps up again! Read more»

Prospect Impressions: Kapanen’s golden goal, Nedeljkovic shines, Pu’s classy celebration

by David Hahn
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Tyler Moy - Harvard University

Photo: Harvard University forward and Nashville Predators prospect Tyler Moy is trying to equal or improve upon a solid 2014-15 season that led to his being drafted by the Predators (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

The 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship came to a conclusion last week, with Finland garnering the gold medal in overtime thanks to Kasperi Kapanen. Alex Nedeljkovic was a big reason why the United States picked up a bronze medal, making a huge “spiderman” save in the process. Plenty more highlights await in this week’s Prospect Impressions. Read more»

2016 WJC Review: Combination of 2016 talent and veteran savvy lead Finland to gold

by Tony Piscotta
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Jesse Puljujarvi, Sebastian Aho, and Patrik Laine - Team Finland - 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship

Photo: Team Finland players Jesse Puljujarvi (L), Sebastian Aho (C), and Patrik Laine (R) celebrate their country’s gold medal win at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship (courtesy of HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA/AFP/Getty Images)

When Toronto Maple Leafs‘ prospect Kasperi Kapanen jokingly pantomimed throwing a fictitious monkey off his back after scoring his first goal of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship for Finland — the seventh goal in what would be an 8-3 win over Slovakia in Group B play — it was a bit amusing. Read more»

HF NHL Prospect of the Month, December, 2015: WJC snub leads to strong month for Michigan’s Connor

by Chris Roberts
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Kyle Connor - University of Michigan

Photo: University of Michigan forward and Winnipeg Jets prospect Kyle Connor earned MVP honors at the Great Lakes Invitational over the holiday break (courtesy of Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Typically, the Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month is selected based on play from the first to the last day of a particular month. The World Junior Championship, however, being the foremost showcase for hockey’s top prospects, allows for some leniency in those dates. And while some of the most impressive individual performances at the 2016 tournament were from undrafted players (who are ineligible for the HF honor), there was plenty of standout performances from previously drafted players. Of course, exclusion from national teams also sparked some tremendous play from top-level prospects. Read more»

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