Ah yes, good old March. Maybe the best month of the year for sports. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are just around the corner, opening day in baseball, and the craziness that is NCAA Basketball’s March Madness. Now I’m sure all you hockey nerds out there could care less, so I’ll get on with the prospect talk. Another great aspect of March is junior hockey playoffs are in full effect, so we see many of our prospects on the big stage. That also means we see many of their seasons come to end. For this update, I’m going to be highlighting certain players, but for the most part will be focusing on who is and isn’t playing.
Michael Rasmussen Dominating WHL Playoffs
En fuego. No other way to put it. Rasmussen has put on a show in the WHL playoffs, and is proving how he doesn’t belong in junior hockey next season. His Tri-City Americans swept the Kelowna Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, and Rasmussen had a huge influence on that. Twelve points, (five goals and seven assists) are good enough for second in playoff scoring, only trailing teammate Morgan Geekie. Doing so in only four games played. His team’s incredible performance helped secure Tri-City their first playoff series win since 2012, and will be facing either the Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals in the second round.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen him play. He showed more vision than in the past. He won loose puck battles and from there he was making some great plays. The biggest thing is he really has raised his intensity. He is way more physical, which is buying him more space.“ Shawn Horcoff told the Free Press.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 23, 2018
Storm Collapse After Loss of Filip Larsson
Filip Larsson was dominating the USHL, easily the best net-minder in the league. He’ll be a shoe-in for goaltender of the year. And with his great play, the Tri-City Storm were cruising, with playoff thoughts being a given. But then disaster happened. Larsson went down with injury, which has since kept him out of action since Feb. 24th. So for the month of March, the Storm relied on goalie Jake Barczewski, and have nose-dived down the standings. Losing nine out of twelve games in March, they are on the edge of a playoff spot. Its unfortunate, as seeing Larsson in playoff action seems like a pipe dream now, as chances are they will be bounce before Larsson returns.
Who is Still Playing
Dennis Cholowski: Portland Winterhawks currently lead the Spokane Chiefs 3-2 in the first round of the WHL playoffs. If they advance, they will face the Everett Silvertips in the second round.
Kaden Fulcher and Reilly Webb: Hamilton Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs, defeating the Ottawa 67’s 4-1 in the first round; will face either the Barrie Colts or the Mississauga Steelheads.
Filip Larsson: USHL season does not end until April 14th. The Tri-City Storm currently sit eight points out of a playoff spot with six games remaining.
Michael Rasmussen: Tri-City Americans advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs, sweeping the Kelowna Rockets in the first round; will face either the Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals.
Jordan Sambrook: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs, sweeping the Saginaw Spirit in the first round; will face either the Kitchener Rangers or Guelph Storm.
Givani Smith: Kitchener Rangers currently lead the Guelph storm 3-2 in the first round of the OHL playoffs. If they advance, they will face either the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Lane Zablocki: Victoria Royals currently trail 3-2 to the Vancouver Giants in the first round of the WHL playoffs. If they advance they will face the Tri-City Americans.
The Griffins/Red Wings Prospects: The Griffins still have five games remaining in their regular season. They’re currently third in the Central Division with eighty-six points. They’re in good shape to make the post-season. Jared Coreau, Joe Hicketts and Evgeny Svechnikov are expected re-join the club once the Red Wings season ends. Tyler Bertuzzi could also be sent down, but his great play in the NHL leaves it as a mystery if he’ll be sent down or not.
- Kasper Kotkansalo won the Big East tournament with Boston University.
Boston University – Hockey East Champions! pic.twitter.com/Bne4UZlcuH
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 18, 2018
- David Pope will turn his attention to contract negotiations once he finishes up classes at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Detroit has until August 15th to sign him, or he will become an unrestricted free-agent.
- Vili Saarijarvi is making great strides in the AHL, and showing NHL promise.
- Libor Sulak will be joining the Grand Rapids Griffins, but his debut will have to wait: “It’s going to be maybe another week to 10 days before he has a chance to play.”