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Avalanche Farm Report: April 5

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Spotlight On: Rutkowski/Barrie
Two Avalanche prospects will be matched up with their seasons on the line when Troy Rutkowski and the Portland Winterhawks take on Tyson Barrie and the Kelowna Rockets during a best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinal series beginning Thursday.

Portland finished off its first-round sweep of Everett after a 5-4 victory on Wednesday and a 6-2 triumph on Thursday. Rutkowski had an assist in both games and finished the series with five points (1g/4a) and a +7 plus/minus rating in four contests.

Meanwhile, the Rockets also wrapped up a first-round sweep this past week by defeating Prince George by a 7-6 score on Tuesday and a 4-2 final on Wednesday. Barrie picked up a helper in both of those outings and now had five points (1g/4a) and a team-best +4 plus/minus rating in four postseason games.

Portland owns the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference after finishing the regular season with 103 points (50-19-0-3), while Kelowna won the B.C. Division with 87 points (43-28-0-1) to earn the No. 2 overall seed in the conference.

According to WHL regulations, the first-place clubs in each division are only guaranteed the top two playoff seeds in the first round. The Spokane Chiefs actually finished the regular season with the second-highest point total (102) in the Western Conference, leading to the Portland/Kelowna second-round meeting.

Lake Erie Monsters
Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate is right on the cusp of wrapping up a postseason berth, despite posting a 1-2 record last week.

The Monsters began the week with a 3-2 loss to Rockford on Wednesday, during which Julian Talbot had a goal and an assist, Matthew Ford also scored and Jason Bacashihua made 34 saves. Lake Erie then dropped a 4-1 decision to Hamilton on April Fools’ Day. Ben Walter scored Lake Erie’s lone goal and John Grahame made 13 stops between the pipes.

The club got back on the winning track Saturday by blanking Toronto, 2-0. Bacashihua turned aside all 21 shots he faced, while Walter scored a power-play tally and David van der Gulik added an empty-net goal.

The Monsters have four games remaining in their regular season, which will come to an end on April 10 with a game in Rochester. Lake Erie could actually clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday night if Abbotsford loses in regulation to Hamilton.

Tulsa Oilers
Colorado’s Central Hockey League affiliate finds itself down, 2-1, in its best-of-five opening-round series of the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Playoffs against the Mississippi RiverKings. Tulsa dropped a 7-3 decision to Mississippi on Thursday and then fell Friday by a 3-1 count.

The Oilers battled back to extend the series with a 4-3 victory in Game 3 on Sunday night.

Game 4 will be held Tuesday, and if Tulsa wins that contest, a potential Game 5 would be on Saturday night.

-Two Avalanche prospects will go head-to-head in the NCAA Frozen Four this week, when the University of North Dakota (featuring prospect Brad Malone) takes on the University of Michigan (with Avs prospect Luke Moffatt). The two schools will meet in a Frozen Four Semifinal game on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. MT. Coverage will be available on ESPN2.

The winner of that contest will then face the victor of the Minnesota Duluth/Notre Dame tilt in Saturday’s championship game, which will take place at 5:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on ESPN.

-Heading into the week with a 2-0 advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Prince Albert Raiders, the Saskatoon Blades and Stefan Elliott advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after winning two of the next four contests. Elliott had an assist in a 6-3 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday and picked up another helper Thursday as the Raiders evened the series at 2-2 with a 5-2 triumph.

But the Blades fought back to win Game 5 on Saturday (8-0, with Elliott scoring a power-play goal) and Game 6 on Sunday (2-1) to close out the series. Elliott led all Saskatoon blueliners with six points (2g/4a) in the series’ six games. The Blades will now face the Kootenay Ice in an Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup that opens Friday.

-The Owen Sound Attack and Joey Hishon advanced to second round of the OHL Playoffs after earning a 4-2 series victory over the London Knights. With the series tied, 1-1, heading into Game 3, the Attack earned a 5-3 victory last Tuesday thanks in part to a power-play tally from Hishon. The Knights again evened the series with a 5-2 triumph on Thursday, but the Attack would win Game 5 on Saturday (6-0) and Game 6 on Sunday (1-0) to close out the series.

Hishon picked up two assists in the Game 5 triumph and finished the series as Owen Sound’s second-leading scorer with five points (1g/4a) in six games.

-Brandon Maxwell and the Kitchener Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday evening after dropping a 4-2 decision to Plymouth in Game 7 of their first-round series. Maxwell, who didn’t play on Monday night, appeared in four games during the series and posted a 1-1-2 record with a 3.75 goals-against average.

-Stephen Silas and the Belleville Bulls were swept out of the postseason after dropping a 4-0 decision to Mississauga last Tuesday. Silas finished the playoffs pointless in four games after posting 36 points (2g/34a) in 68 regular-season contests.
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