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Avalanche Farm Report: March 26

by Adam Steinberg / Colorado Avalanche
Spotlight On: Joey Hishon
The long awaited return of forward Joey Hishon, the Avalanche’s 2010 first-round draft pick (17th overall), is over. Hishon made his professional debut last Tuesday for the Lake Erie Monsters after a nearly two-year hiatus from hockey because of concussion-like symptoms.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Hishon said after his first professional game. “I’ve been waiting a very long time for this so to be back playing hockey, it’s what I love to do and it’s my passion. It’s an amazing feeling.”

It did not take long for the highly touted prospect to chip in and contribute offensively for the Monsters. In only his second game back on Friday, Hishon scored the deciding goal in the shootout to help give Lake Erie a 4-3 victory over Grand Rapids.

Hishon checked off another milestone the next day as he assisted on Bill Thomas’ first period goal to collect his first professional point. Hishon had the original shot off a rebound before the puck deflected off of Thomas and into the Grand Rapids net.

Prior to his debut last week, the Stratford, Ontario native’s last contest was 22 months prior on May 21, 2011 during the Owen Sound Attack’s (his junior team) first game of the 2011 Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup. He suffered a head injury during the third period of the game against Kootenay and hadn’t played since.

Hishon had an impressive year with Owen Sound in 2010-11. Named to the OHL’s First All-Star Team, he led the Attack in points with 87, assists with 50 and was second on the team in goals with 37, while only playing in 50 games. Hishon also received the “Best Playmaker” and “Best Stickhandler“ awards in the OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll that season.

Hishon’s return to hockey comes at a crucial time for the Monsters as they look to earn a playoff berth with the season nearing a close.

Lake Erie Monsters
After dropping three-straight games to the Toronto Marlies, including a 4-3 loss on March 19, the Monsters bounced back in the first half of a home-and-home series with the Grand Rapids Griffins over the weekend.

Lake Erie (28-28-3-7) picked up a 4-3 shootout victory over Grand Rapids on Friday with newcomer Joey Hishon netting the deciding goal in the tiebreaker. Hishon had played in his first professional game three days earlier after being out for nearly two years with a head injury that he suffered during his junior career.

Geoff Walker, Bill Thomas and Michael Sgarbossa each scored a goal for Lake Erie in Friday’s win over Grand Rapids, which ended a five-game losing streak for the Monsters.

In the second game on Saturday night, Lake Erie couldn’t hold on to a lead and lost 5-4 in overtime to the Griffins.

Sgarbossa scored for the second straight game on Saturday and is now second on the team in goals 19 goals and points with 44.

David van der Gulik recorded two points (1g/1a) in the loss to the Griffins as well and now has 35 points (18g/17a) in 58 games for the Monsters.

Bill Thomas scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season on Saturday night. He also has 18 assists on the year, bringing his point total to 39, which is third best on the club.

The Avalanche made two transactions with the Monsters recently as they reassigned defenseman Stefan Elliott on Sunday and recalled defenseman Tyson Barrie on Monday.

Lake Erie begins a five-game road trip on Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Upcoming Games
Mar. 27 at Milwaukee
Mar. 29 at Chicago
Mar. 30 at Peoria

Denver Cutthroats
Despite losing 4-3 in overtime last Tuesday to Quad City, the Denver Cutthroats got the one-point that they needed to clinch a playoff spot in their inaugural season. Joel Chouinard scored a goal for Denver in the game while goaltender Kent Patterson made 17 saves in the loss.

Denver played back-to-back games in Rapid City over the weekend, splitting both contests.

On Friday, Denver pulled out a 6-5 win after Chouinard tied a season-best with two points (both assists). Chouinard tallied 20 points (6g/14a) in 42 games with the Cutthroats this season.

Kieran Millan stopped 37 shots on Friday to earn his 15th win of the year. Millan finished the regular season 15-15-4 with a 2.91 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

In the second game on Saturday night, Patterson made 31 saves on 32 shots but Denver was edged 2-1 after the game went to a shootout. Patterson finished the regular season at 14-10-6 and had a 3.01 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Denver ended the regular season with a 30-26-10 (70 points) record and will be the No. 8 seed in the Central Hockey League playoffs. They will play the No. 1 seed Allen Americans (38-18-9) in the first round, which begins on Thursday.

Upcoming Games
Game 1 – Thu., Mar. 28 at Allen
Game 2 – Fri., Mar. 29 at Allen
Game 3 – Sun., Mar. 31 vs. Allen
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 1 vs. Allen
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 6 at Allen
*Game 6 – Tue., Apr. 9 vs. Allen
*Game 7 – Thu., Apr. 11 at Allen
* If Necessary

Colin Smith
(Kamloops Blazers) dished out three assists in Kamloops’ first two games against the Victoria Royals in the first round of the WHL playoffs. The Blazers won both games at home, picking up a 3-2 victory on Friday and a 6-4 victory on Saturday. Smith, who finished the regular season tied for fourth in the WHL with 106 points, has three assists so far in the series. The Blazers will look to grab a stranglehold on the series tonight as they play game 3 in Victoria.

Troy Bourke (Prince George Cougars) finished the season leading the Cougars in assists with 35 and finished second in goals (15-tied) and points (50). His team named him the “Most Valuable Player” on the squad after the season. Bourke and the Cougars’ season is over as Prince George finished fourth in the B.C. Division of the Western Conference.

Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon Blades) did not tally any points in Saskatoon’s first two playoff games against Medicine Hat. The Blades are down 2-0 in the series with game 3 tonight at Medicine Hat. Siemens ended the regular season with 32 points (3g/29a) in 70 games and finished second on the club in plus/minus ratings (+31).

Joseph Blandisi
’s (Ottawa 67s) season came to an end as Ottawa failed to make the OHL playoffs. After being acquired from Ottawa in a trade from Owen Sound, Blandisi played 26 games with the 67’s and finished with 26 points (8g/18a). On the year, Blandisi collected 51 total points (15g/36a) in 63 games and finished with the second most total points on Ottawa.

Michael Clarke (Peterborough Petes) finished the season with 32 total points (15g/17a). In 28 games with Peterborough, Clarke totaled 13 points (7g/6a). The Petes finished ninth in the OHL Eastern Conference, one spot out of the playoffs.

Garrett Meurs (Plymouth Whalers) scored twice in Plymouth’s 11-2 game 1 triumph over Sarnia on Friday in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Meurs followed with an assist in the Whalers’ 3-2 win Saturday. Plymouth has 3-0 series lead in the series after defeating Sarnia 5-2 on Monday night.

Mitchell Heard (Plymouth Whalers) contributed two points (1g/1) to Plymouth’s game 2 win over Sarnia. Heard finished the regular season averaging more than a point a game with 36 points (17g/19a) in 32 games.

Dillon Donnelly
(Quebec Remparts) did not record any points in Quebec’s first two playoff games, but he is a plus-3 in the series. Quebec is 1-1 in their first-round series against Chicoutimi and will play game 3 tonight.

Nathan Condon
(University of Minnesota) and the Gophers fell 2-0 to Colorado College in the WCHA Final Five Semifinals last week. Minnesota will be the No. 2 seed in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey West Regional and will face Yale on Friday in the first round. Condon ended the regular season with 31 points (12g/19a) in 39 games.

Luke Moffatt (University of Michigan) and the Wolverines defeated No. 3 Miami 6-2 in the CCHA Semifinals before falling 3-1 to Notre Dame on Sunday in the conference championship game. Michigan’s streak of 22 consecutive NCAA tournament berths came to an end. Moffatt ended the regular season with eight goals and 13 assists (21 points) for the Wolverines.

Gus Young’s (Yale University) Yale hockey squad lost 5-0 over the weekend to Union and then 3-0 to Quinnipiac in the third-place contest of the ECAC Championships. Despite the losses, Yale was awarded the No. 4 seed in the West Regional and will face the University of Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday. Young tallied seven points (1g/6a) in the regular season.

Denis Parshin
(Salavat Yulaev Ufa) ended the season with 12 points (5g/7a) and 20 penalty minutes. Salavat lost in the conference semifinals to Ak Bars, losing the series 4-3.

Joachim Nermark
(Linkoping HC) played in 53 games and finished with a goal and three assists (four points) for Linkoping, who finished fifth-place in the SEL. Linkoping is in the league semifinals and will begin a seven-game series on Thursday against Skelleftea AIK. In the quarterfinals, Linkoping dropped the first game in the series to HV71 before winning four straight contests to take the series 4-1.

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