First Playoff Matchup Set

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Lincoln clinches fifth to set up western division showdown
The Lincoln Stars clinched fifth place in the USHL over the weekend to set up a first round matchup between the Stars and the 4th place Sioux City Musketeers in the first round of the USHL playoffs. Lincoln clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday with a 6-5 shoot-out win in Sioux City. The Stars then went on to win 3 more games over the weekend including wins over Dubuque 8-3, North Iowa 4-3 (SO), and a 5-3 win over Green Bay at home. Lincoln got contributions from literally every direction as they tallied 21 goals from a total of 11 different players in their 4 games on the week, let by Eric Maksimenko’s 4 goals.

The bottom teams in the USHL continue to scramble for the last 3 remaining births in the playoffs. Thunder Bay, who has only 2 games remaining, was only able to gain a single point over the weekend in a 2 game series with the USA (18& Under) Team. They lost on Friday 4-1, and took the USA team to a shoot-out before losing on Saturday by a 3-2 (SO) score. The Flyers, by gaining the one point for a shoot-out loss, still hold on to 6th place in the league currently with 43 points.
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AJHL Quarter Finals (March 8th)

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[ Exclusive 2000 Draft Eligible Player Profiles and brief Scouting Reports. Click Here!!! ]
Camrose 0 at Calgary Canucks 5
The Calgary Canucks continued on their regular season role as they became the last AJHL club to commence their playoff run. After a record-breaking 104 point season, there were probably a few people expecting a bit of a letdown as the playoffs began against fourth-place Camrose.
However, there were others who expected the Canucks to keep on rolling and that they did just that Monday night at Max Bell Centre in Calgary. It didn’t take long for the Canucks to break the ice, so to speak as Roger Leonard took a Neil McCann pass and rifled the puck past Camrose netminder Wes Schneider from the left faceoff circle.

In the second period it didn’t take Leonard long to double his playoff goal totals as he scored again just a shade under two minutes into the period. On the powerplay, with 3:28 left in the second, ’99 draft eligible and future Wisconsin Badger Dany Heatley gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead as he took a pass from Ryan Manitowich in the slot and picked Schneider’s five-hole.

Defenceman Neil McCann figured on the scoring while shorthanded in the third period. After a save by Mike Gilhooly, Heatley fed McCann who went on a breakaway. McCann didn’t squander the opportunity as he buried the puck in the net to give Calgary a 4-0 adavantage. Steve Albrecht added another in the dying seconds as Calgary took the opener handily.
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Dallas Stars Top 10 Prospects

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With the Stars system graduating such players as Lehtinen, Langenbrunner, Mativchuk, and Hatcher, along with trades involving Iginla and Harvey, the cupboard was quickly emptied. However, in the past couple of years the Stars have had some solid drafts, and seem to have begun the restocking process. Following the “lower risk” philosophy of drafting, the best role player available has helped the Stars accumulate good defensive depth, and has given them a glut of feisty, two-way forwards. What this philosophy has not done however is provide them with true snipers and game-breakers, thus resulting in their need for high priced free agents to compensate. With this depth the Stars system has been ranked in the upper middle of NHL teams for the last two years, and will continue to be given much time and patience for further development.

Below are the Stars top ten prospects, with comments.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS

1. Brenden Morrow-LW 5-11 195lbs
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AJHL Quarter Finals (March 7th)

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[ Exclusive 2000 Draft Eligible Player Profiles and brief Scouting Reports. Click Here!!! ]
Lloydminster 2 at Fort Saskatchewan 5
Nick Boucher is turning out to be the story in this series and quite possibly the AJHL playoffs to this point. At the start there was very little to choose between the two clubs aside from the fact that Lloydminster was on an incredible run to close out the season. Now, it appears, Fort Saskatchewan goaltender Nick Boucher is turning out to be the clincher in the Traders’ favour.
He was not as busy as last game – when he made 48 saves – but he was solid when he needed to be, especially in the third period. Sean Day opened the scoring tonight on a powerplay 13 minutes into the first period but just over a minute later John Davidson answered back for the Blazers and the two teams went to intermission deadlocked at one.

Fifty seconds into the second, Traders leading scorer Matt Gorman surprised Lloydminster goalie Ray Fraser to put the Traders ahead once again. Lloydminster’s leading scorer in the playoffs Jamie Weiss then tied it up once again as he converted Chris Dallyn’s feed on the powerplay. Trevor Baker, who may have played his best game of the year overall for the Traders, put the Fort ahead for good only several minutes later and Ryan Campbell doubled their lead on the powerplay three minutes after that.
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Manny Malhotra: Rangers Catch a Steal

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After spending $44 million last year and failing to make the playoffs, things could not be looking worse for the Rangers. When the media is talking draft in March, something went wrong. What went wrong was the Rangers were just too darn old. Although possessing a few solid prospects, most were from resent drafts and thus were only 18 and 19 years old and most were not under contract. As the draft grew closer the Rangers had their sights set on a center, a big center with allot of upside. Unfortunately their top choices David Legwand and Manny Malhotra were ranked second and sixth respectively. Most experts actually expected them to go second and third. The Rangers chance to draft a big time center was slim. But something happened on that hot June day, somehow to the Rangers surprise Malhotra fell into their laps.

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