There are a couple of nice things about junior hockey. It’s cheaper to attend, it can be gloriously entertaining watching raw talent, its season ends earlier meaning the playoffs are that much sooner.
Playoffs are already well underway throughout the CHL, as some teams have already been eliminated from contention. That includes some Flames prospects whose junior careers are over, either for this season or forever – and some who are doing the eliminating.
Let’s check in with them.
Eliminated: Nick Schneider (Medicine Hat Tigers), Keegan Kanzig, Pavel Karnaukhov (Calgary Hitmen), Brett Pollock (Edmonton Oil Kings)
The Flames have four prospects in the Dub, and all of them are done playing. There won’t be any Flames representatives from the WHL in the Memorial Cup this year (although, if Oliver Kylington hadn’t played his year in Stockton, the Brandon Wheat Kings held his rights… but that didn’t end up happening, so it’s a moot point).
Schneider was eliminated early on, as his Tigers faced off against Pollock’s Oil Kings for a one-game take-all set to determine who would face the Wheat Kings. Schneider had the start, but five of the Oil Kings’ 35 shots went past him as Edmonton eliminated Medicine Hat 6-4.
Since then, Schneider has made his professional debut, playing four games with the Stockton Heat on an ATO. He’s fared well thus far, posting a .925 save percentage – but that number was dragged down some as he stopped just 30 of 34 shots against the Pacific Division-winning Ontario Reign and the Heat fell 4-1. That’s been his only bad game to date, though; he’s faced at least 30 shots in all four games, and has posted save percentages of .919%, .939%, .967%, and then .882%. Not a bad start.
Karnaukhov and Kanzig ultimately fell 4-1 against the Red Deer Rebels. Karnaukhov scored two goals and an assist for three total points over the five-game series, while Kanzig contributed a goal. Kanzig has been assigned to the Stockton Heat, where he played one game for them back in October; he has yet to dress again. Karnaukhov’s season, meanwhile, appears to be over.
Karnaukhov has been battling injuries this season, presumably will try to get healthy this summer. #flames
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) April 4, 2016
Pollock’s Oil Kings jumped out to a 2-0 series lead against Brandon, but ultimately fell as the Wheat Kings took the next four games straight. He scored two goals and four points over the six game series. As of time of writing, he has yet to be assigned to the Heat, but his season only just ended on April 5. There’s no reason to think he won’t get his first professional games in soon; now 20 years old, he’ll likely be playing on the Heat next season, anyway.
UPDATE: And he’s off to Stockton.
— Edmonton Oil Kings (@EdmOilKings) April 7, 2016
Moving on: Riley Bruce (North Bay Battalion), Rasmus Andersson, Andrew Mangiapane (Barrie Colts)
Bruce, the Flames’ seventh round pick from the 2015 NHL draft, played in all seven games of the Battalion’s 4-3 series victory over the Peterborough Petes. He scored one goal (on the power play) and had three shots on net total.
Andersson and Mangiapane have higher ceilings than Bruce, and accordingly, showed a lot more in Barrie’s 4-3 series victory over the Mississauga Steelheads. Andersson scored two goals and nine points over the series, while Mangiapane went 4-4-8. Andersson had 21 shots on net in the first round, while Mangiapane produced 33. Both were offensive leaders for the Colts in the regular season, and there’s no reason why that would change for the playoffs: they’re third and fourth in team scoring, respectively.
Here’s the fun part: the Flames are guaranteed to get representation in the third round of the OHL playoffs, because North Bay and Barrie are playing each other in the second round. Their series is set to start today. Barrie has home ice advantage, and with no offence to Bruce, they’re probably the team most of us are cheering for: how awesome would it be to see them in Red Deer at the Memorial Cup?
Also of note from the OHL: potential future Flame Alexander Nylander’s Steelheads were eliminated; he went 6-6-12 over six games (including a hat trick) and had 24 shots on net. Potential future Flame Matthew Tkachuk’s London Knights have advanced to the second round; he’s gone 8-4-12 in six games with 30 shots on net. London will host the Kitchener Rangers starting tomorrow. Both future draft picks are leading their team in scoring, though Mitch Marner also has 12 points, but 10 fewer shots than Tkachuk.
Also, there’s a draft-eligible kid on Barrie named Giordano Finoro. He’s pointless through seven games, but wins the prize for best name.
Moving on: Mason McDonald (Charlottetown Islanders)
McDonald backstopped his Islanders to a 4-2 first round series victory over Rimouski Oceanic. Overall, he had a .922 save percentage (he finished the regular season a .902), and also, an assist.
Game by game, McDonald’s save percentages were: .939% (L), .900% (OTW), .929% (W), .927% (OTW), .889% (OTL), and .953% (W). He faced a total of 230 shots over the six-game series; in four of them, he saw more than 40 shots.
The Islanders’ second round series is against the Shawinigan Cataractes, who finished with 16 more points than Charlottetown during the regular season. It’s set to begin today. Depending on how long the series lasts, McDonald may not get a chance to join the Heat; Game 6 would take place the same day as Stockton’s regular season finale, should the series go that long.
Of note from the Q: potential future Flame Pierre-Luc Dubois has three goals and five total points over five games with Cape Breton. The Screaming Eagles took down the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in a 4-2 series; Dubois missed the first game. Cape Breton takes on the Saint John Sea Dogs in the second round series set to begin today.