Two prospects taken in the middle rounds of the 2013 NHL Draft have a lot on the line when they matchup against each other this weekend in the SHL. Likewise, two 2016 draft-eligibles go one-on-one in the OHL, while one WHL defenseman tries to acclimate to a new environment after a recent trade. The QMJHL offers an interesting matchup when a pair of twins with NHL bloodlines takes on a giant defenseman. Finally, two steady freshmen forwards have been role players for their respective teams and are hoping to earn additional icetime in this week’s Prospect Faceoff.
Peter Cehlarik (Lulea) vs. Gustav Possler (MODO) – SHL
Two European players from the 2013 NHL Draft will match up in an important SHL game this weekend. Both prospects, Lulea’s Peter Cehlarik and MODO’s Gustav Possler, are unsigned by their respective NHL teams, putting more emphasis on this game as two of the SHL’s formerly dominant franchises rely on youth in this week’s Feature Faceoff.
Slovakian-born winger Peter Cehlarik left his home country four years ago in favor of pursuing a higher level of hockey. He spent three years in Lulea’s junior system, and is now in his second full season in the SHL. Thus far, early results have been good as the playmaking forward has been a dynamic presence. Cehlarik has five goals and three assists in his first 19 games this season, and he has shown a penchant for scoring clutch goals. Among his five goals, three of them have been game-winners, two of which have come in overtime. The unsigned Boston Bruins prospect has been given plenty of ice time on Lulea’s second line, and is a big reason why the team is holding onto one of the last spots ahead of relegation.
One of the best young duo’s in the SHL, MODO’s Gustav Possler and Emil Pettersson (NSH) have linked up on a number of goals so far this season. Possler, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, has silky-smooth hands and the intelligence to keep up with the play. Now in his third season in the league, MODO is expecting big things from Possler. Through 23 games, Possler has four goals and eight assists, on pace to break his career-high point total of 21. While his future in Buffalo is undecided, the remainder of this season represents an opportunity for him to earn a professional contract.
Logan Brown (Windsor) vs. Victor Mete (London) – OHL
After being drafted by the Niagara IceDogs sixth overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, Logan Brown spurned Niagara and was looking for a different home. Eventually, the Windsor Spitfires emerged with a must-have offer of six draft picks and Brown was off to Windsor. There, he put together a quality rookie season, finishing the 2014-15 season with 17 goals and 26 assists. Learning to use his massive frame properly, Brown has taken a step forward this season. To date, he has five goals and 18 assists through 17 games, helping to lead a lunch-pail Spitfires squad. Brown has been rated as one of the top skaters available for the 2016 NHL Draft, and should be a sure-fire first round pick.
Joining Brown on a list of 2016 NHL Draft-eligible skaters is Victor Mete, the London Knights most polarizing defenseman. Mete is an elite skater, and has the natural ability to climb up the draft charts in short order. The Toronto, ON native was a major contributor to the Toronto Junior Canadiens Minor Midget program that won the GTHL’s Kraft Cup and Scotiabank Playoff Championships in the 2013-14 season. With London, Mete broke into the league and made a solid impression by scoring seven times and assisting on 16 others in 58 games last season. Now in his second season in the OHL, Mete is logging all the ice time he can handle on the team’s top defense pairing, and, with 16 points, is quickly closing in on a career year.
Jansen Harkins (Prince George) vs. Brycen Martin (Everett) – WHL
Jansen Harkins expected to be drafted in the first round of last June’s NHL Draft, but after being selected 47th overall by the Winnipeg Jets, Harkins has been on a mission. One of the Prince George Cougars only offensive weapons last season, Harkins is again attempting to do a little bit of everything this season. Harkins, one of the WHL’s unsung heroes, has five goals and 11 assists through 22 games. While his offensive numbers aren’t up to par for his ability, Harkins has been a stalwart in his own end and on the penalty kill.
For the second consecutive season, Brycen Martin is on the move to another WHL team. The Everett Silvertips made a splash on the trade market again this year, acquiring the Buffalo Sabres’ prospect from the Saskatoon Blades for a pair of players and a draft pick. It is the second straight year the Silvertips have made a blockbuster trade with Everett, having sent Nikita Scherbak (MTL) there last season. For Martin, he will be asked to provide some offense from the blueline, as the Silvertips are currently dead-last in overall scoring. Martin is a suberb skater and makes good decisions with the puck on the breakout, and should help stabilize things at both ends of the ice.
Philippe Myers (Rouyn-Noranda) vs. Kevin and Kelly Klima (Moncton) – QMJHL
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman Philippe Myers is among the breakout stars of the 2015-16 season. Myers, a 6’5”, 205-pound defenseman with plenty of individual ability, is starting to show that on a consistent basis while providing the team with a trustworthy brand of hockey. The Philadelphia Flyers prospect was signed to his three-year, entry-level contract in September, after Myers made waves at the team’s training camp. Through 26 games, Myers has eight goals and 10 assists, nearly doubling his point totals from the previous two years combined. His stock continued to rise when Hockey Canada named him to Team QMJHL for the CHL Canada Russia Series, where Myers logged plenty of ice time.
Opposing Myers this weekend, the Klima twins, Kevin and Kelly, are in the midst of a renaissance season with the Moncton Wildcats. The former London Knights castaways caught on in Moncton this summer and competed hard to earn roster spots on the team. Perhaps due to some sort of paranormal twin-magic, the Klima’s chemistry didn’t go unnoticed by the Wildcats staff, and now they are settling into big roles for the team. The twins, sons of former NHL forward Petr Klima, both are having breakout seasons in 2015-16. Kevin has 33 points, and combined with Kelly’s 24, the twins have become a difficult force for the opposition to contain.
Liam Coughlin (Vermont) vs. Jordan Greenway (Boston University) – NCAA
Acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks in an offseason trade involving Anders Nilsson, Liam Coughlin is currently plying his trade for the University of Vermont Catamounts. A steady presence for the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL over the last two seasons, Coughlin is transitioning to college hockey as a freshman. Early results have been promising, as Coughlin has seen his role increase and has benefited from being trusted with plenty of ice time. In search of his first collegiate goal, the Boston, MA native comes home this weekend hoping to score in a building he spent plenty of time in as a kid.
Former Shattuck St. Mary’s standout forward Jordan Greenway is making a name for himself at Boston University this season. Embracing a fourth-line energy role, Greenway is using his 6’5”, 225-pound frame on the forecheck, often frustrating opponents with his physical brand of hockey. A recent second-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 NHL Draft, Greenway will be playing one of his last games before leaving the team in the hopes of making the United States U20 team ahead of the 2016 World Junior Championship. With a pair of gold medals under his belt at the 17- and 18-year-old levels, Greenway’s fiery game might be a perfect fit to play a role for his home country.
Dmytro Timashov (Quebec) vs. Keven Bouchard (Baie-Comeau) – QMJHL
Dmytro Timashov and the Quebec Remparts were far too much to handle, as the Remparts went ahead early and ran away with a 6-2 win. Timashov was directly involved in four of those six goals, finishing with one goal, three assists, and a solid +2 rating. Matthew Boucher and Bronson Beaton tallied two goals apiece, and Brady Labrecque stopped 24 of 26 shots. For the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, the night didn’t go as planned, as Keven Bouchard watched from the bench as Evgeny Kiselov stopped 29 of 35 shots, dropping to 1-9-0 on the season.
Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener) vs. Travis Dermott (Erie) – OHL
Two of the OHL’s Western Conference powerhouses met up for a Thanksgiving night game, with the Erie Otters sneaking past the Kitchener Rangers by a final of 3-2. Erie took a 2-1 lead into the third period on goals by Kyle Maksimovich and Jakob Mayenschein, before Alex DeBrincat found the empty net with Kitchener’s Luke Opilka on the bench for the extra attacker. Adam Mascherin scored with a little over one minute remaining to make it interesting, but Travis Dermott and the rest of the Otters held up. Dermott finished with a +2 rating, and was on the ice for both goals that Jeremy Bracco and his line conceded. Bracco, who recently joined the Rangers after leaving Boston College, was held without a point.
Sam Steel (Regina) vs. Jake Bean (Calgary) – WHL
In one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, the Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen traded goals back and forth, two in each period, all the way until overtime. There, Regina’s Jake Leschyshyn was the hero, scoring his third goal of the game in overtime. Regina’s 16-year-old goaltender Jordan Hollett stopped 30 of 33 shots, picking up his second win of the year in the process. Sam Steel did not pick up a point and finished the game with a -2 rating. Jake Bean had no answer for Calgary, finishing without a point as well, but looked on as Jakob Stukel scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season in the loss.
Brock Boeser (North Dakota) vs. Mason Appleton (Michigan State) – NCAA
Two of the best first lines in college hockey clashed last weekend, with the University of North Dakota trio of Brock Boeser, Drake Caggiula, and Nick Schmaltz coming out on top as North Dakota coasted to a 3-1 victory. Boeser picked up an assist, Schmaltz added two of his own, and Drake Caggiula scored twice as North Dakota improved to 11-2-0. Alongside of Michael Ferrantino and Mackenzie MacEachern, Mason Appleton and the Spartans finished without a goal and a combined -6 together as the matchup proved too much to handle.
Denis Smirnov (Fargo) vs. Parker Tuomie (Sioux Falls) – USHL
Fargo Force head coach Cary Eades returned to Sioux Falls for the first time since guiding the Herd to a championship last season. After turning over the management staff and over half of the roster, the Sioux Falls Stampede successfully defended home ice in dominant fashion, beating Fargo by a final score of 3-0. Lawson Courtnall and Eric MacAdams each had one goal and one assist in the win. After running up a five-game point streak, Parker Tuomie was held without a point. For Fargo, Denis Smirnov was a threat, but ultimately finished with a -2 rating and no points.
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