It’s playoff season for junior-aged players across the country, and the Montreal Canadiens can count on a spoil of riches in terms of volume of prospects who are taking part.
The playoffs started on Friday night, so most players have played two games each. Here’s a quick summary of their scoring lines, along with some players who’ve been invited to development camp, followed by a more detailed accounting of their performance.
Ontario Hockey League - Round 1
London Knights vs. Windsor Spitfires (1-1)
The marquee series to follow for fans of the Canadiens is the Knights against the Spitfires. Not only are these two teams heated rivals, but the series also has Montreal’s 2016 first-round pick Mikhail Sergachev and newest signee Jeremiah Addison taking on 2016 fourth-round pick Victor Mete and Canadiens training camp tryout Hayden McCool.
Addison was the hero of the first game, scoring two goals, including the overtime winner, to give the Spitfires the series opener.
Victor Mete was not to be outdone, showing why he’s one of the top offensive defencemen in the Habs prospect pool.
The second game of the weekend saw the other side of Addison’s game — the physical side — which led to a five-minute major and a match penalty for cross-checking.
Jeremiah Addison just lost his mind. Got 5 + game for crosschecking. pic.twitter.com/9tLETRQta2— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) March 26, 2017
It was Sergachev who stepped up to the plate for Game Two for Spitfires with a massive wrist shot from the blue line for the tying goal. Ultimately, the Knights would win the second game, levelling the series at one apiece.
Mikhail Sergachev ties it at 2 following a dominant shift. Sergachev with 1G 1A in the span of ~2:30. pic.twitter.com/PTodBun6rp— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) March 26, 2017
Hamilton Bulldogs vs. Kingston Frontenacs (2-0)
One of the few playmakers in the Canadiens system, Will Bitten is the highlight of this series for people who follow the Canadiens, and he did not disappoint. He scored both goals for the Bulldogs in the first game, on the way to a 2-0 victory.
Will Bitten scored 2G in OHL playoff debut. Love the movement into dangerous areas preceding both goals. pic.twitter.com/1UUwFhruyk— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) March 25, 2017
Owen Sound Attack vs. Kitchener Rangers (1-1)
Ask a fan of the Canadiens to point out Owen Sound on a map of Ontario and they probably won’t be able to, however ask them about the team, and the more astute will probably be able to tell you that the Canadiens have a very interesting goaltending prospect there in Michael McNiven, as well as pure scoring machine who has had several tryouts with the NHL team in Petrus Palmu.
McNiven did not disappoint, playing a strong first game, stopping 24 of 25 shots on goal by the Rangers. Meanwhile the Attack lived up to their name directing 50 shots on the Rangers goal, including five by Palmu, who finished the night with one goal and two assists. The final score was an emphatic 9-1 victory for the Attack.
Game Two was similar, in the sense that the shots on goal were pretty much the same, but the Attack were unable to beat the Rangers goalie, while the Rangers tucked two goals past McNiven on 26 shots. The final score was 2-1 for the Rangers, with the only Attack goal coming from Palmu.
Sudbury Wolves vs. Oshawa Generals (1-1)
Michael Pezzetta scored the insurance goal for Sudbury in the first tilt between these two teams, as the Wolves beat the Generals 5-2.
He was held off the scoresheet in the second game as the Generals worked their way back into the series with a convincing 5-1 victory. Pezzetta, as he’s known to do, got frustrated at the end of the game and took a roughing penalty with one second left on the clock. The prospect plays with a lot of edge to his game, so it’s not unexpected that he will take uneccessary penalties.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - Round 1
St. John Sea Dogs vs. Rimouski Oceanic (2-0)
Rimouski were the final team to qualify for the playoffs, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Sea Dogs have come out strong for both games. Simon Bourque earned two assists in the first game, and received third-star honours in a big 9-2 victory.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs. Halifax Mooseheads (1-1)
Rumoured to be heavily scouted by Marc Bergevin and his group of professional scouts this season, Antoine Waked showed rather poorly in the first game, going -3 and not finishing the game due to an upper-body injury, which also caused him to miss the second game.
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles vs. Gatineau Olympiques (2-0)
The Canadiens are hopefully keeping a close eye on Giovanni Fiore during this series. Fiore was a tryout at training camp last fall, but left without a contract. He proceeded to dominate the QMJHL, and finished second in scoring by a single point, with 103.
So far in two games he has registered 16 shots on goal, of which one has found the back of the net so far, but it was the game-winning, short-handed, overtime goal in the first game.
Western Hockey League - Round 1
Everett Silvertips vs. Victoria Royals (1-1)
Out west this is the series that Habs fans will be following because of Noah Juulsen. Unfortunately, there won’t be too many flashy highlights of the defenceman since he is more of a physical player than a player who will drive offence in a counter-attack.
Juulsen found himself in the penalty box for Victoria’s first goal in the first game, plus another time for a double minor midway through the third period: charging and roughing calls.
He was much more disciplined in the second game, but did not put up any points, as the Silvertips lost to even up the series.
Medicine Hat Tigers vs. Brandon Wheat Kings (2-0)
Matt Bradley remains the final North American player of the 2015 draft class not to have signed a contract, so it’s in his interest to show well during these playoffs. Otherwise he may go unsigned and the Canadiens will give up their rights to the forward.
He scored a nice goal in the first game to help his cause by recovering a loose puck near the Brandon net, and snapped it far-side top-corner on a very tight angle past the goaltender. He was held pointless in the second game, but did manage a +2 rating in a 5-3 victory to put the Tigers up two games in their series.
Calgary Hitmen vs. Regina Pats (0-2)
This series showcases Canadiens training camp tryout defenceman Michael Zipp. Unfortunately for him, his Hitmen team have not been able to keep up with the Pats, nor had Zipp managed to really impress in the regular season. His entry in this article is merely for completeness as there doesn’t appear to be a future for Zipp with the Canadiens organization.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.