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Posted On Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 11:17 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

A true sign of sportsmanship

One of the feel-good stories of the 2010-11 New Jersey scholastic ice hockey season was witnessing Delbarton Prep senior Peter McMullen score the game-winning goal in overtime to lead his team to a state Non-Public championship at Prudential Center in Newark on March 13.

McMullen, rated No. 144 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings, is the grandson of the late Dr. John McMullen -- the man responsible for bringing professional hockey to the Garden State in 1982. He finished the season as the leading scorer for the state's No. 1-ranked team, with career-highs in goals (25) and points (45).

But, the story didn't end after McMullen connected 4:41 into the extra period of a 3-2 victory over St. Augustine Prep of Richland, N.J.

In one of the greatest displays of sportsmanship that you'll see at any level of any sport, St. Augustine senior goalie Joe Pantalone presented McMullen the puck the latter put behind him when the two got together during the ceremonial handshake.

"I thought about it being a player's dream to score a goal in overtime like that to win a state championship," Pantalone told Paul Bruno of The Star-Ledger. "Even though we had lost, I felt I had to get that puck and give it to Pete (McMullen). He made a great shot and he deserved to have that puck."

Pantalone, who made 37 saves in the loss, isn't projected to be drafted by an NHL team this June. It certainly doesn't discount the noble gesture that any NHL scout or General Manager would appreciate, however. He was named The Star-Ledger's Hockey Sportsman of the Year.

When told of Pantalone's courtesy, Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel was thrilled.

"It was a tremendous gesture of sportsmanship during a very difficult moment for an athlete," Shatel told Bruno. "It really was pretty extraordinary for him to do that, and it says a lot about that young man's character. It goes to show what (St. Augustine coach) Tim Fingerhut is teaching his players and it's a credit to the entire St. Augustine program."

The victory gave Delbarton (24-3-2) an unprecedented fourth straight Non-Public championship. In the OT, McMullen charged the cage and swept home a pass from John Baiocco past Pantalone. McMullen will attend Boston College in the fall. According to The Ledger, Pantalone might continue his career at Middlebury or Merrimack, or he might play junior hockey next season.

"We lost the game and it was a huge disappointment, but I think it shows nothing is ever as bad as it seems," Pantalone said. "You can always turn something negative into a positive. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Things get thrown at you in life, so you can either pack it in or work harder and make it a positive. I feel like the friendship that Pete (McMullen) and I can have now is something to gain from this."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 6:14 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

WHL announces 2011 All-Star Teams, Award nominees

The Western Hockey League released the 2010-11 WHL Conference First and Second All-Stars and the Conference finalists for the 2011 WHL Awards. The WHL Player of the Year finalists will be announced April 20. The winners of those awards and the WHL Player of the Year will be announced at the Awards Luncheon in Calgary, Alberta, on May 4.

Portland Winterhawks forward Sven Baertschi, who represented his native Switzerland in the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., in January is up for WHL Rookie of the Year honors. Bartschi, who led all first-year players in the League with 34 goals and 85 points, is projected to be selected in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., this June.

Another top 2011 prospect, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, was named to the Eastern Conference First Team All Stars. As a rookie last season, Nugent-Hopkins finished second on the team in scoring with 65 points, including 24 goals, in 67 games to earn WHL's Rookie of Year Award and help the Rebels reach the playoffs for the first time in three years.

This year, Nugent-Hopkins, projected to go among the top three picks in the June draft, erupted for 31 goals and 106 points in 69 games.

WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR TEAMS
FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM

Goaltender – Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, SK), Red Deer Rebels*
Defenceman – Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, BC), Saskatoon Blades*
Defenceman – Brayden McNabb (Davidson, SK), Kootenay Ice*
Forward – Linden Vey (Wakaw, SK), Medicine Hat Tigers*
Forward – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Burnaby, BC), Red Deer Rebels
Forward – Mark Stone (Winnipeg, MB), Brandon Wheat Kings

SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Tyler Bunz (St. Albert, AB), Medicine Hat Tigers
Defenceman – Alex Petrovic (Edmonton, AB), Red Deer Rebels
Defenceman – Duncan Siemens (Sherwood Park, AB), Saskatoon Blades
Forward – Cody Eakin (Winnipeg, MB), Kootenay Ice
Forward – Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon, SK), Saskatoon Blades
Forward – Quinton Howden (Oak Bank, MB), Moose Jaw Warriors

WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR TEAMS
FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM

Goaltender – James Reid (Calgary, AB), Spokane Chiefs
Defenceman – Tyson Barrie (Victoria, BC), Kelowna Rockets
Defenceman – Jared Cowen (Allan, SK), Spokane Chiefs
Forward – Brendan Gallagher (Delta, BC), Vancouver Giants
Forward – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs
Forward – Ryan Johansen (Port Moody, BC), Portland Winterhawks

SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg, MB), Seattle Thunderbirds
Defenceman – Brenden Kichton (Spruce Grove, AB), Spokane Chiefs
Defenceman – Ryan Murray (White City, SK), Everett Silvertips
Forward – Brendan Shinnimin (Winnipeg, MB), Tri-City Americans
Forward – Brendan Ranford (Edmonton, AB), Kamloops Blazers
Forward – Ryan Howse (Prince George, BC), Chilliwack Bruins

*indicates unanimous selection
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Posted On Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 2:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Euro prospect Adam Larsson out with shoulder injury

In a season where defenseman Adam Larsson wants to prove to the hockey world just how valuable an asset he could be in his draft year, the big Swede is doing it the hard way.

For the second time this season, Larsson was sidelined by injury on Tuesday and Thursday during Skelleftea's semifinal round matchup with Lulea in the Elitserien playoffs. According to NHL European Scouting director Goran Stubb, Larsson left the second period of Tuesday's game with a shoulder injury. Projected to be drafted among the top three in June, Larsson was held out of practice for precautionary reasons on Wednesday and never dressed for Game 2 against Lulea on Thursday.

The winner will face either Farjestad or AIK for the Swedish Elite League championship beginning April 5.

Larsson represented Sweden at the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship, finishing as the team's highest scoring defender at the tournament this past season with 1 goal and 4 points. He produced 7 assists, 9 points and 41 penalty minutes in 37 regular-season games this season.

A groin injury kept the 6-foot-3, 200-pound blue liner sidelined much of the regular season. He did play in the semifinals and bronze-medal game at the WJC, but supposedly pushed it a little too much. It probably didn't help that he was on the receiving end of a booming check by Team Canada and Columbus Blue Jackets draftee Ryan Johanson in the tournament semifinal.

But Larsson has rebounded nicely and, prior to suffering his shoulder injury on Tuesday, was playing his best hockey of late. It'll be interesting to see how he responds when he does return to the lineup.

"He's a big, complete package with a great future in hockey," Stubb told NHL.com. "It's not easy for a player with his talent to improve every year. He's been on his own high level already for three years. Perhaps there's too many "experts" expecting too much from him ... forgetting that he is only 18."

Two of Larsson's teammates on this year's Swedish National Junior Team praised their impressive young defenseman when asked for comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning defender Victor Hedman.

"I think Adam is better than Hedman, but that's my opinion," said Larsson's WJC defensive partner and Sweden's alternate captain, Fredrik Styrman."He's more stick handling and can move the puck quick. That's the big thing, and he can hit too. He's a strong guy and he's big. I think he has a great future (in North America)."

Goalie Robin Lehner, who was drafted in the second round by the Ottawa Senators in 2009, feels very confident with Larsson patrolling his end.

"Hedman was big, of course, and strong and Adam is smaller but he makes up for that with smartness," Lehner told NHL.com. "He's really smart with the puck and tough. He won't back down from anything and even fought a 30-year-old in Swedish league. He just has this glow in his eyes … you know he's going to be a great player."

Former NHL GM Craig Button, who works as a hockey analyst for 'NHL On The Fly' and the NHL Network, has been impressed with Larsson's determination and grit. He has him ranked No. 3 on his draft board behind only Ryan-Nugent Hopkins of Red Deer (WHL) and Gabriel Landeskog of Kitchener (OHL).

"I like him for the completeness of his game," Button said. "He's a guy that can play defensively. He's got the size (6-3, 200) and poise defensively, but offensively, he knows how to create chances. He's got a great shot, he can pass the puck and jump into the attack. He can make good decisions and, for an 18-year-old defenseman, sometimes you're looking for that player who has to make better decisions. I really like the way he gets himself into position defensively and offensively, and he can control the game. Those types of players, who can play a lot of minutes, are hard to find."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.22.2011 / 10:59 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

QMJHL announces finalists for Golden Puck Awards

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Tuesday released the list of nominees for the 2011 Golden Puck Awards. Each year, the QMJHL honors its most deserving athletes, teams and personalities at its awards banquet, which will be held April 6 at the Hyatt-Regency hotel in downtown Montreal.

There are several 2011 draft-eligible players up for awards, including nine from the Saint John Sea Dogs. The nominees for Top Professional Prospect included Saint John forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Drummondville forward Sean Couturier. Huberdeau, who is considered by many to be a top 5 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, finished with a franchise-record 105 points on 43 goals, 62 assists in 67 games. Couturier produced 36 goals, 96 points in 58 contests and Beaulieu had 12 goals, 45 points in 65 games.

Here are this year's nominees:

Michel-Brière Trophy - Most Valuable Player
Sean Couturier (2011 draft eligible) - Drummondville Voltigeurs
Philip-Michaël Devos - Gatineau Olympiques / Victoriaville Tigres
Jonathan Huberdeau (2011 draft eligible) - Saint John Sea Dogs

RDS Cup - Rookie of the Year
Martin Frk - Halifax Mooseheads
Charles Hudon - Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Zach O’Brien - Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Domenic Graham - Drummondville Voltigeurs  
David Honzik - Victoriaville Tigres
Dominic Poulin - Chicoutimi Saguenéens

Émile « Butch » Bouchard Trophy - Best Defenseman
Brandon Gormley - Moncton Wildcats
Simon Després - Saint John Sea Dogs
Ryan Kavanagh - Shawinigan Cataractes / Rimouski Océanic

Frank-J.-Selke Trophy - Sportsman of the Year
Philip-Michaël Devos - Gatineau Olympiques / Victoriaville Tigres
Zach O’Brien - Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Zack Phillips (2011 draft eligible) - Saint John Sea Dogs

Michael-Bossy Trophy - Top Professional Prospect
Nathan Beaulieu (2011 draft eligible) - Saint John Sea Dogs
Sean Couturier  (2011 draft eligible) - Drummondville Voltigeurs
Jonathan Huberdeau (2011 draft eligible) - Saint John Sea Dogs

Ron-Lapointe Trophy - Coach of the Year
Mario Duhamel - Drummondville Voltigeurs
Gérard Gallant - Saint John Sea Dogs
Patrick Roy - Québec Remparts

Maurice-Filion Trophy - General Manager of the Year
Sylvain Couturier - Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Mike Kelly - Saint John Sea Dogs
Pascal Vincent - Montreal Juniors

Paul-Dumont Trophy – Personality of the year
Sean Couturier (2011 draft eligible) - Drummondville Voltigeurs
Jonathan Huberdeau (2011 draft eligible) - Saint John Sea Dogs
Louis Leblanc - Montreal Junior

Humanitarian Award
Alex Émond - Rimouski Océanic
Kirill Kabanov - Lewiston MAINEiacs
Gabriel Lemieux - Shawinigan Cataractes

Michel-Bergeron Trophy - Offensive Rookie of the Year
Martin Frk - Halifax Mooseheads
Charles Hudon - Chicoutimi Saguenéens
Zach O’Brien - Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Raymond-Lagacé Trophy - Defensive rookie of the year
Domenic Graham - Drummondville Voltigeurs
David Honzik - Victoriaville Tigres
Dominic Poulin - Chicoutimi Saguenéens

Guy-Carbonneau Trophy - Best defensive forward
Michael Kirkpatrick - Saint John Sea Dogs
Phillip Danault (2011 draft eligible) - Victoriaville Tigres
Frédérick Roy - Québec Remparts

Kevin-Lowe Trophy - Best defensive defenseman
Samuel Finn - Lewiston MAINEiacs
Charles Landry - Montreal Junior
Andrew Randazzo - Drummondville Voltigeurs
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Posted On Monday, 03.21.2011 / 3:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NCAA Men's Frozen Four set

The NCAA Regionals are set to begin in four separate locations throughout the United States. The field of 16 for the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship was released on Sunday, with Yale, North Dakota, Boston College and Miami (OH) receiving the No. 1 seeds in the bracket (in that order). Boston College, the defending champion, meets Colorado College in its opener. Play begins this Friday, March 25, with the first round, and quickly progresses to the Frozen Four, set for April 7-9, at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota -- site of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Here's a look at the NCAA schedule and those players within the games who could hear their names at the 2011 Entry Draft June 24-25.

East Regional Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard
March 25, 2011 No. 2 Union (N.Y.) vs. No. 3 Minn. Duluth 3 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com
March 25, 2011 No. 1 Yale vs. No. 4 Air Force 6:30 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com
March 26, 2011 East Regional Championship 6:30 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com

West Regional Scottrade Center
March 25, 2011 No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Nebraska-Omaha 5:30 p.m. ET ESPN Syndication/ESPN3.com
Michigan: Kevin Clare, D, 6-1.5, 202; Jacob Fallon, C, 5-10, 191

March 25, 2011 No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 4 Colorado College 9 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Colorado: Josh Thorimbert, G, 6-0, 178

March 26, 2011 West Regional Championship 9 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com

Northeast Regional Verizon Wireless Arena
March 26, 2011 No. 1 Miami (Ohio) vs. No. 4 New Hampshire 4 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com
UNH: Nick Sorkin, RW, 6-2.5, 166

March 26, 2011 No. 2 Merrimack vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 7:30 p.m. ET ESPN Syndication/ESPN3.com
Notre Dame: Thomas Tynan, C, 5-7.5, 165

March 27, 2011 Northeast Regional Championship 8 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com

Midwest Regional Resch Center
March 26, 2011 No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 4 Rensselaer 1:30 p.m. ET ESPN Syndication/ESPN3.com
Rensselaer: Patrick Koudys, D, 6-2.25, 190; Brock Higgs, C, 5-9, 180
North Dakota: Dillon Simpson, D, 6-0.5, 192

March 26, 2011 No. 2 Denver vs. No. 3 Western Michigan 5 p.m. ET ESPN Syndication/ESPN3.com
Denver: Nicholas Shore, RW, 5-11.75, 195

March 27, 2011 Midwest Regional Championship 5:30 p.m. ET ESPNU/ESPN3.com

Men's Frozen Four Xcel Energy Center
April 7, 2011 East Regional Champ vs. Northeast Regional Champ 5 p.m. ET ESPN2/ESPN3.com
April 7, 2011 Midwest Regional Champ vs. West Regional Champ 8:30 p.m ET ESPN2/ESPN3.com
April 9, 2011 National Championship 7 p.m. ET ESPN/ESPN3

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Posted On Monday, 03.21.2011 / 10:11 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Lucia tops list of top high school players to watch

It remains to be seen if this year's crops of high school players will have NHL scouts and general managers clamoring for their services when the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is staged at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

At Staples Center in Los Angeles last June, 22 high school players were chosen over seven rounds, the highest total in 16 years.

At the top of the list was Nick Bjugstad of Minnesota's Blaine High School. Busted, who went 19th to the Florida Panthers and is now starring at the University of Minnesota, was a member of the U.S. National Junior Team that won bronze at the 2011 World Junior Championship in January. Joining him in the first round were fellow scholastic standouts Kevin Hayes (No. 24 overall, Chicago Blackhawks) of Noble & Greenough in Massachusetts and Brock Nelson (No. 30 overall, New York Islanders) of Warroad High in Minnesota.

On March 21, NHL.com presented its high school package, featuring a few of the top draft-eligible prospects on the board from the scholastic ranks throughout the nation. Mario Lucia of Wayzata High School in Minnesota might be the primary target. Still, there are several other skaters and a few goalies who could very well hear their name at the Entry Draft.

One high school player who is not on anybody's radar right now, but who might be in June is Burnsville (Minn.) defenseman Eddie Wittchow. At 6-foot-3 1/4, 189 pounds, Wittchow has already received numerous offers from several colleges and will likely join the United States Hockey League next fall. The senior was also named to Minnesota's Third-Team All-Metro team after finishing with 14 goals, 23 points and a plus-11 rating in 25 games for the Blaze (17-4-4).

Some scouts have compared Wittchow to defenseman Rob O'Gara of Milton Academy in Massachusetts. O'Gara, committed to Yale in the fall of 2012, was rated No. 95 on Central Scouting's mid-term report. He had 2 goals and 9 points in 30 games. O'Gara is a good skater with a nice long stride. He is able to protect the puck well with his body and passes and moves well.

Many feel that O'Gara is behind the Czech Republic's Petr Placek (6-3 1/2, 210) of Hotchkiss in Connecticut. Placek, who's committed to the University of Harvard, had an injury-plagued season and, when in the lineup, wasn't 100 percent. Still, he's a strong, powerful skater and very aggressive on the puck. He can control the difficult pass in stride and can drive the net from the off-wing. In 15 games, he had 7 goals, 13 points this season. Placek is rated No. 54 on Central Scouting's list of top scholastic stars and might very well be drafted in the mid- to late rounds.

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Posted On Monday, 03.14.2011 / 9:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Delbarton wins 4th straight NJ title

Delbarton Prep senior Peter McMullen had to be grinning ear-to-ear when he woke up Monday morning.

That because the 6-foot-2, 200-pound center scored two goals, including the decisive tally 4:41 into overtime to bring the Morristown, N.J., school a dramatic 3-2 victory over St. Augustine in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's Non-Public championship less than 24 hours earlier.

McMullen, who was rated No. 144 on NHL's Central Scouting mid-term rankings, is the grandson of the late John McMullen -- the man responsible for bringing professional hockey to the Garden State in 1982. He finished the season as the leading scorer for the state's No. 1-ranked team, with career-highs in goals (25) and points (45).

A crowd of 7,310 witnessed the thrilling finish.

Delbarton All-state defenseman Matt Killian
The victory gave Delbarton (24-3-2) an unprecedented fourth straight Non-Public championship. In the OT, McMullen charged the cage and swept home a pass from John Baiocco past St. Augustine goalie Joe Pantalone (37 saves). McMullen will attend Boston College in the fall.

"To be honest I just let it go," McMullen told Paul Bruno of The Star-Ledger. "I didn't have time to think, so I really just turned and shot and I put it up near his left shoulder. It was really a great play by my teammates."

Delbarton pulled into a 2-2 tie when All-State defenseman Matt Killian, the top-rated (No. 77, CSS) draft-eligible player in New Jersey, converted a three-on-two breakout with just 2:10 remaining in regulation. Killian (6-1, 191), who finished the season with 8 goals and 27 points, will attend Yale in September. The game was the first Non-Public final to go to OT since 2005, when Christian Brothers earned a 2-1 victory over Delbarton on a goal by current Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk.

In the Public A Final on Sunday, Randolph scored a 1-0 victory over Montgomery on Matt Kral's 25th goal of the season with 3:41 left in the third period. The title was Randolph's fourth in the last six seasons and fifth overall.

In the Public B Final, junior forward Danny Casey (38 goals) registered a natural hat trick during a four-goal second period to lead Chatham to a 7-3 victory over Middletown South. The championship was the first for Chatham since 1976.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.13.2011 / 4:15 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Eden Prairie's Kyle Rau wins Mr. Hockey Award

Less than 24 hours after leading Eden Prairie to its second Minnesota state championship in three seasons on a goal in triple overtime, center Kyle Rau was named the Mr. Hockey Award recipient as the state's finest player on Sunday during a ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minn.

Rau, 18, scored the game-winner at 4:43 of the third OT in Saturday's Class 2A boys' hockey championship game at Xcel Energy Center -- site of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on June 24-25. Rau's head-first dive to poke home a rebound enabled the Eagles to score a 3-2 triumph over Duluth East, marking the first time in 67 years that the state final went to three overtime periods.

Following the game, Duluth East coach Mike Randolph saluted Rau and his dedication.

"(Eden Prairie) has the best player in high school hockey, Mr. Hockey in my mind, (and he) scored the winner," Randolph told the Star Tribune. "I have nothing but respect for that kid. He could go anywhere he wanted, and he stayed in high school hockey. And he got rewarded (in the state final)."

There's a good chance Rau, who was rated No. 176 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term report of North American skaters, will hear his name called at some point during the second day of this year's Entry Draft in his home state.

It certainly wouldn't surprise NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee.

"When the puck comes to him, he executes," Barzee told NHL.com just last week. "When the game is on the line, he scores the big goal -- he's done it over and over again. In fact, I've only seen him taken out of a game once (against Eagan on Dec. 22 when he had a season-high 4 penalty minutes)."

If Rau, born in Hoffman Estates, Ill., could compare himself to any NHL player, he'd say Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Briere. His favorite player, however, is Chicago's Patrick Kane. On his dramatic triple-overtime winner, he dived to get a stick on a rebound of a shot taken by his twin brother, Curt, from the point. The puck got behind goaltender JoJo Jeanetta and Rau won the race before knocking it over the goal line.

"Rau has a sneakiness about him and a dynamic hockey sense where he's able to out-guess and out-think people," Barzee said.

In 25 regular season games, Rau produced 33 goals, 36 assists, 69 points (2.76 point per game) and a plus-24 rating. In three sectional playoff contests, he had 3 goals, 5 points and a plus-3 rating and in three more state tournament matches, notched 5 goals, 7 points (2.33 ppg.) and a plus-3 rating.

The University of Minnesota-bound standout totaled 41 goals, 40 assists, 81 points (2.61 ppg.) and a plus-30 rating in 31 games in 2010-11.

The top scholastic player in the nation, Wayzata's Mario Lucia (No. 30 on Central Scouting), whose team was defeated by Eden Prairie in the sectional championship game, isn't surprised Rau garnered the Mr. Hockey Award.

"He doesn't do the skill moves but he's a hard worker and never stops moving his feet, shooting the puck all the time," Lucia told NHL.com. "He goes to the net. You always need to watch out for him in the slot."

Lucia, who finished with 30 goals, 24 assists, 54 points (2.00 ppg.) and a plus-34 rating in 27 games with Wayzata this season, isn't eligible for the Mr. Hockey Award since he's only a junior. Lucia, the son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, had 5 goals (2 game-winners), 7 points and a plus-8 rating in three sectional playoff games -- Wayzata lost a 4-3 double-OT decision to Eden Prairie on a Rau goal in the final.

The Mr. Hockey Award is given to the outstanding senior high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota and is selected by a panel of National Hockey League Scouts, Division I coaches and selected media members from around the state.

The top 10 candidates for the 2011 Mr. Hockey Award were Josh Archibald (Brainerd High School), Ben Bahe (Hill-Murray), Jon Brodzinski (Blaine High School), Tony Cameranesi (Wayzata High School), Patrick Daly (Benilde-St. Margaret's), Max Everson (Edina High School), Steven Fogarty (Edina High School), Garrett Hendrickson (Virginia High School), Joe LaBate (Academy of Holy Angels) and Rau.

Rau (Minnesota), Daly (Wisconsin), Everson (Harvard), Fogarty (Notre Dame), Hendrickson (St. Cloud), Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), Labate (Wisconsin) and Cameranesi (Minnesota-Duluth) all have college commitments. Labate was rated No. 60 by Central Scouting, followed by Everson (No. 81), Fogarty (No. 132), Cameranesi (No. 160) and Rau (No. 176).

Lake of the Woods' Alex Lyon was named the Brimsek Award winner as the state's top goaltender.
 
Lyon, rated No. 20 by Central Scouting among domestic goalies, finished 17-7-3 with a 1.60 GAA, six shutouts and .945 save percentage in 27 games. He was 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .943 save percentage in two state sectional tournament games. 

Lyon, who will likely play in the USHL with Cedar Rapids in 2011-12, beat out Eden Prairie's Andrew Ford, who was also nominated for the award as the top senior keeper. 

Ford finished the regular season 19-4-2 with a 2.27 GAA, four shutouts and a .900 save percentage in 25 contests. In his team's three-game sweep to the state title, Ford went 3-0-0 with a 1.20 GAA, .943 save percentage and one shutout.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Ontario Hockey League coaches name poll winners

The Ontario Hockey League released the results of its Coaches Poll for the Eastern and Western conferences on Friday.

Among the winners were several 2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospects, including Eastern Conference forward Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs. Strome, is No. 19 among North American skaters in NHL's Central Scouting's mid-term rankings of the top North American skaters available for the draft.

Ryan Strome

Strome received first-place selections in three categories, including Most Improved Player and Best Playmaker, while tying Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner of the Kingston Frontenacs as the Best Stickhandler. Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's was second to Strome in the Most Improved Player and Best Playmaker categories. Prince, incidentally, is No. 35 on Central Scouting's list.

Strome's teammate, defenseman Dougie Hamilton, also was honored.

Hamilton, No. 7 on the Central Scouting's list, was named the Best Skater and Best Offensive Defenseman, and placed third in the Best Defensive Defenseman category. Overall, the IceDogs had 12 players represented in the top three in 16 categories, followed by the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors with 10 players.

Over in the West
, No. 10 Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers placed in four categories, including a first-place finish as Best Skater. He was second to Nashville Predators prospect Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires as Smartest Player and Best Offensive Defenseman, and finished second to Colorado Avalanche prospect Joey Hishon of the Owen Sound Attack as Best Stickhandler.

Ryan Murphy

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds speedster and No. 43-rated Daniel Catenacci, who won the faster skater competition at the Top Prospects Skills Competition in January, finished third in the Best Skater category.

No. 42-ranked Vincent Trocheck of the Saginaw Spirit finished second in the Best on Face-Offs category and the No. 1-rated North American in the mid-term rankings, Gabriel Landeskog of Kitchener, finished second in the Best Body Checker category.

The Rangers and Attack had nine players represented in the top three of the 16 categories to lead all Western Conference clubs.

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Posted On Friday, 03.11.2011 / 8:37 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Sea Dogs establish team record for wins, points

The Saint John Sea Dogs, the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League for 13 straight weeks, established a new team record for wins and points Thursday in pretty dramatic fashion.

2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospects Tomas Jurco and Jonathan Huberdeau each scored in the shootout to give the Sea Dogs a 3-2 victory against the Rimouski Oceanic. Jurco, who has made a name for himself this season with his unbelievable poise and pizzazz in the shootout, scored off a nifty backhand before Huberdeau closed it out with a speed rush and tuck underneath Oceanic goalie Morgan Clark (29 saves).

The club improved to 54-6-1-2, setting a new team record for wins and points (111) and keeping alive hope of establishing a new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record for wins in a season. With only five games remaining, including Friday's meeting with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the Dogs could best the record of 58 victories set by Sorel Eperviers in 1973-74 and matched by the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in 1978-79.

Huberdeau scored his team-leading 39th goal -- along with his franchise-record 98th point -- with just 1:50 left in regulation on a deflection in front. Rimouski would square the contest at 2-all with just 21 seconds left in regulation when Patrick Delisle-Houde fired a loose puck through a crowd and past Sea Dogs goalie Mathieu Corbeil (28 saves).

There's a good possibility as many as four players from the Sea Dogs could be selected in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft on June 24 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Those players include Huberdeau, the No. 4-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term list; No. 9 Nathan Beaulieu; No. 12 Zack Phillips; and No. 24 Tomas Jurco, who is 4-for-5 in shootout attempts this season. Jurco led the QMJHL with 9 shootout goals on 11 chances as a rookie in 2009-10.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres