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Avalanche Farm Report: March 22

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Spotlight On: Brad Malone

Last summer, during the Avalanche’s development camp, North Dakota forward Brad Malone expressed a good deal of optimism about his senior season.

“Our team has a big year ahead of us with some big goals. Everyone is pretty excited around town and in the locker room,” Malone said in late July.

As it turns out, Malone was spot-on, as his club has pieced together an impressive performance during his final season in Grand Forks.

The Fighting Sioux – who hold the No. 1 ranking on the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll for the fifth consecutive week – are arguably the nation’s hottest team heading into the NCAA Tournament.

This past week, North Dakota defeated both Colorado College and the University of Denver en route to its 15th WCHA title.

Malone netted a short-handed goal Friday in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers and then fired two shots on goal Saturday as North Dakota defeated Denver by a 3-2 score in a double overtime thriller to earn the Broadmoor Trophy.

The senior forward has now totaled 36 points (13g/23a) in 40 games to help the Fighting Sioux to a 30-8-3 overall record.

North Dakota will hold the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional and will face Rensselaer on Saturday afternoon. With a victory, the Fighting Sioux would face the winner of Saturday’s Denver/Western Michigan game, with a berth in the Frozen Four on the line.
Lake Erie Monsters
On the strength of a five-game road winning streak, Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate currently sits in first place in the North Division with 82 points (37-25-3-5). The Monsters and the Hamilton Bulldogs each presently own 82 points, but Lake Erie holds the tiebreaker by having played one fewer game to date.

The Monsters jumped into the division lead by sweeping a three-in-three weekend set.

Lake Erie began the weekend with a 7-2 pounding of Grand Rapids on Friday night. Ben Walter (1g/3a), Greg Mauldin (2g) and David Van Der Gulik (3a) led the way offensively and Jason Bacashihua made 23 saves in the victory.

The Monsters also got past Milwaukee on Saturday, winning by a 3-2 final score. Mauldin, Justin Mercier and Julien Brouillette tallied for the Monsters, while John Grahame made 25 stops to earn the victory between the pipes.

Lake Erie closed out the weekend by topping Peoria, 4-3, on Sunday to move into first place. Mauldin, Van Der Gulik, Julian Talbot and Matthew Ford notched a goal apiece and Grahame picked up his 17th victory of the season after turning aside 30 shots.

Tulsa Oilers
The Avalanche’s Central Hockey League affiliate picked up at least one point in each of its three games last week.

Trevor Cann made 27 saves Wednesday, but Tulsa dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Texas. After beating Allen, 6-3, on Friday, the Oilers fell to Odessa, 3-2 in overtime, on Saturday. Cann served as Ian Keserich’s backup during both of Tulsa’s weekend contests.

With three regular season games remaining, the Oilers sit fourth in the Berry Conference with 71 points (33-25-5).

-Yale University and Avalanche prospect Gus Young will hold the No. 1 overall seed when the 2011 Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Championship kicks off this weekend. The Bulldogs have been placed in the East Regional, where they will face Air Force on Friday evening. If Yale comes out victorious, the school will take on the winner of the Union/Minnesota Duluth matchup in Saturday’s regional final. The Bulldogs claimed the ECAC Hockey Tournament championship by defeating Cornell, 6-0, on Saturday.

-Paul Carey and the Boston College Eagles were crowned Hockey East Tournament champions after downing Northeastern, 5-4, in the semifinals and then topping Merrimack, 5-3, in Saturday’s championship game. The defending NCAA champion Eagles hold the No. 1 seed in the West Regional and will face Colorado College on Friday night. If Boston College wins that contest, it will advance to face the winner of the Friday’s Michigan/Nebraska-Omaha tilt.

-Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines (featuring Avalanche prospect Luke Moffatt) hold the No. 2 seed in the West Regional. Michigan recently claimed third-place honors in the CCHA tournament, losing to Western Michigan (5-2) in the quarterfinals before beating Notre Dame (4-2) in the third-place game.

-Stefan Elliott picked up an assist in Saskatoon’s regular season finale, a 4-2 triumph over Regina on Saturday. Elliott, who signed an entry-level deal with the Avs on Monday, finished the season tops among league defensemen in goals (31) and points (tie-81) in 71 games. He also led the entire WHL with a +62 plus/minus rating. Saskatoon, which finished with the WHL’s best record (56-13-1-2; 115 points), will open a best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with No. 8 Prince Albert on Saturday.

-Portland’s Troy Rutkowski had a goal and an assist last Wednesday during a 5-3 win over Vancouver. Rutkowski finished the season leading all Portland defensemen in goals (10) and ranking second in points (47) in 72 games. The Winterhawks, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, will take on Everett in a first-round series beginning Saturday.

-Tyson Barrie recorded an assist as Kelowna fell to Vancouver, 4-3, on Saturday. Barrie, the reigning WHL Defenseman of the Year, finished the 2010-11 campaign ranked sixth among league blueliners with 58 points (11g/47a) in only 54 contests. Kelowna, the No. 2 seed in the West, will face Prince George in the Western Conference Quarterfinals starting Friday.

-Seattle’s Calvin Pickard closed out the campaign by posting a 1-2 record last week. The netminder posted a 23-save shutout Wednesday in a 5-0 victory over Kelowna, made 29 stops Friday during a 5-0 loss to Spokane and then turned aside 48 shots as Portland defeated Seattle, 5-4, on Saturday. Pickard finished the season with a 27-33-3-5 record and a 3.36 goals-against average. He led all WHL goalies in appearances (68), minutes (4,013) and saves (2,443) while ranking fourth in save percentage (.916). The Thunderbirds did not qualify for the postseason.

-Owen Sound forward Joey Hishon concluded the regular season by scoring a goal last Wednesday in a 4-3 triumph over Plymouth and then registering two assists as the Attack dropped Guelph, 5-2, on Friday. Hishon finished the season tied for 14th among OHL scorers with 87 points (37g/50a) in only 50 games. The Attack, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, will begin the playoffs on Friday, where they will take on No. 8 London.

-Belleville’s Stephen Silas extended his point streak to five games (1g/4a) by netting a point in each of the Bulls’ three games last week. Silas finished as Belleville’s defensive leader in both assists (34) and points (36) in 68 games. The Bulls head into the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. There, the club will take on No. 1 Mississauga in a best-of-seven series that is set to begin Thursday.

-Kitchener goalie Brandon Maxwell closed out the regular season with a 25-save performance in a 4-3 loss to Guelph last Wednesday, followed by a 26-save effort Friday in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Plymouth. Maxwell finished the season with a 23-15-4-2 record and a .903 save percentage in 46 appearances. The Rangers (No. 3 in the Western Conference) will square off with Plymouth (No. 6) beginning Friday in the first round of the 2011 OHL Playoffs.

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