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Catching The Torch: Cale Fleury topples Josh Brook in weekend head-to-head series

Stats, highlights, and updates on the Montreal Canadiens prospects from the past week

Shanna Martin / Eyes on the Prize

Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, WHL), collegiate (USHL, NCAA), and professional (ECHL) level.

Cale Fleury and the Regina Pats faced Josh Brook and the Moose Jaw Warriors this week in a three-game series. It was an important matchup for the the two powerhouses of the Western Hockey League with the playoffs fast approaching, and an occasion to prove their superiority. It's also likely that the two teams see each other again at the Memorial Cup, as the Pats are hosting.

Moose Jaw is currently first in the overall standings of the WHL, while Regina sits ninth. It was then logical to bet on the top team in the league to come out on top. But with some great performances coming out of Josh Mahura on Friday and Fleury on Sunday — each recording a three-point game — the Pats triumphed over the Warriors two games to one in the series.

Prospect Spotlights

Cale Fleury #4, RD, Regina Pats

Fleury was exceptionally dominant in the last game. He recorded the first of his two assists by intercepting an attempted clear from Brook. The Warriors defenceman tried to dump the puck to safety higher in the zone, but, unfortunately for him, Fleury immediately jumped on it and fired in direction of the net. Emil Oksanen put in the rebound to tie the game at one.

Just a few minutes later, in four-on-four play, Fleury started a defensive-zone exit by hitting a Warriors forward on the boards and retrieving the puck for his team. He passed it over to Cameron Hebig, who gave it to Sam Steel for a beautiful goal and the first lead of the game for the Pats.

One thing the Habs’ third-rounder has rarely missed lately is the chance to plaster an opponent. And Brook learned it the hard way.

Near the end of the game, Brook led a rush to the offensive zone on Fleury's side of the ice. He dangled one Pats player and made his way across the blue line. He seemed confident that he would be able to do the same to Fleury.

But, instead, Brook had a painful introduction to what Fleury can do, as he, like many others before him, couldn't go around the wall that the Regina defender can make himself to be.

This isn't something Brook is going to soon forget, and he wasn't the only victim of Fleury in that series; the Pats defender also claimed the hit of the game on Wednesday when he forced a Warrior player to the ice by shoving him down in the corner of the defensive zone.

But Fleury didn't only step up his physical play. He scored the game-winning goal with a well-placed wrister through traffic on Sunday. His shot found a seam through players from both teams and lodged itself in the top left corner of the net, leaving Moose Jaw's goalie still unsure of where the puck was.

Release selection has been a strength of Fleury, who doesn't waste an open lane with a huge windup on a slapshot. He knows he's able to muster enough strength with a quick snap at the puck, having it fly to the net to find a hole in the goalie's coverage, or, if it can’t, still create a dangerous rebound.

Fleury had a quiet first two games before he exploded on the last one with three points, but he picked up another assist on Friday en route to a 5-3 victory over the Pats, giving him four points total in three games against one of the strongest teams in the league.

He skated off his blue line as he got the puck, saw a defender come up to him, and slid the puck over to Jesse Gabrielle, who had been left uncovered. Gabrielle beat Moose Jaw's goalie with a well-placed shot.

Josh Brook #2, RD, Moose Jaw Warriors

It was a very difficult game on Sunday for Brook, who was guilty of a multitude of giveaways and was getting hit left and right by Regina. He was at the origin of the Pats' first goal and didn't look like himself for most of his shifts. This was likely his biggest dip in performance since the start of the season.

Still, despite not recording any points in the series, he fared much better in the first two games, creating some good scoring chances for his team when he was given the chance to quarterback the play in the offensive zone.

If he sees he has the space to go up to the net; Brook takes it. He seems very comfortable pulling off a move on a defender who is coming at him on the blue line, using their angle of approach to give himself a chance to beat them the other way.

By attacking the slot and getting a shot on net, he knows he can create confusion in the other team's defence, which now has to adjust to face him. His involvement in the attack also gives his team a better chance to find an uncleared rebound to jump on.

What seemed to be the source of Brook's poor play this week is that, despite pulling off some of those familiar moves in the offensive zone, he often seemed out of sync with the rest of his teammates, not reading their position or intentions correctly until it was too late.

This isn't something that happened strictly on the attack either. Pn multiple occasions — and the worst of it on Sunday — he made the same mistakes trying to break the puck out, which turned into extended periods of time in the defensive zone for his pairing.

Brook is capable of much more than what his recent performances suggest. He now only has five points in his last 15 games after starting the season as a point-per-game player and showing incredible flashes of skill in that time.

His drought coincides with the arrival of Kale Clague, but chalking it up to the trade would only be an excuse. Brook's role has not been diminished enough for it to explain all of his difficulties on the ice. He has to clean up his play with the puck to help Moose Jaw regain their aura of best team in the West, a title that can now be questioned with their losses to a reinvigorated Pats team.

Jarret Tyszka #5, LD, Seattle Thunderbirds

Tyszka snapped out of a nine-game pointless streak with a goal and an assist on Friday. He scored with a seeing-eye shot from the boards, firing through traffic as he retrieved the puck. It was his seventh goal of the season, giving him one more than last year in a similar number of games.

Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates

CHL weekly performance

Player Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Pos League Team GP G A P
William Bitten RW OHL Hamilton 4 0 2 2
Michael Pezzetta C OHL Sarnia 3 0 1 1
Cale Fleury RD WHL Regina 3 1 3 4
Jarret Tyszka LD WHL Seattle 4 0 2 2
Scott Walford LD WHL Victoria 4 2 0 2
Josh Brook RD WHL Moose Jaw 3 1 2 3

CHL season to date

Player Pos League Team GP G A P
Player Pos League Team GP G A P
William Bitten RW OHL Hamilton 59 19 42 61
Michael Pezzetta C OHL Sarnia 58 22 28 50
Cale Fleury RD WHL Regina 63 12 37 49
Jarret Tyszka LD WHL Seattle 64 8 31 39
Scott Walford LD WHL Victoria 65 2 29 31
Josh Brook RD WHL Moose Jaw 39 3 27 30