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3 Stars of the Week: March 16-22, 2015

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2014-15 season.

(Photo courtesy AK Bars Kazan)

1st Star: G Anders Nilsson, AK Bars Kazan (KHL)
The Line: 3GP, 3-0-0, 2 shutouts

Nilsson stretched his win streak to four games after going 3-0 in the second round of the playoffs last week; he also notched his second and third postseason shutouts, including a 21-save effort on his 25th birthday on March 19, and has allowed just one goal over his last three appearances. The Swedish native improved his record to 8-2 with a 1.32 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in the KHL playoffs, helping AK Bars Kazan advance to the Eastern Conference Final against Sibir.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

2nd Star: RW Spencer Abbott, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 3G

Abbott has been on a tear since joining the IceHogs at the trade deadline, compiling seven points (5G, 2A) in seven games. The 26-year-old tallied twice for Rockford on Wednesday and added the shootout winner in a 4-3 victory over Adirondack, then netted the game-winner in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Texas. Abbott ranks fifth on the team with a 31 points in 53 AHL games this season, split between Rockford and the Toronto Marlies.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

3rd Star: C Dennis Rasmussen, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 2G, 1A

Rasmussen also had a big week on offense: He opened the scoring for Rockford on Wednesday, then tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday’s win to become the seventh player on the team to reach the 10-goal marker this season. The 24-year-old Swedish native has 21 points in 60 games in his North American debut season.

Honorable mentions: D Stephen Johns, Rockford IceHogs (AHL); RW Ryan Hartman, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Johns posted his first two-goal game in the AHL in a 4-0 win over Adirondack on Saturday, including his second game-winner of the season and the empty-netter. Johns has eight points (3G, 5A) over his last six games and 16 total on the season.

Chicago’s 2013 first-round pick notched a career-high three points (1G, 2A) in the IceHogs’ win on Saturday, including a helper on the game-winner. Hartman now has 25 points (10G, 15A) in 56 games for Rockford this season.

Around the system:

  • Anthony Louis collected a goal and an assist in Miami University’s 6-3 victory over Denver in the Frozen Faceoff semifinals, then helped the RedHawks win the NCHC title with a win over St. Cloud State and secure a top regional seed in the NCAA tournament. The sophomore forward finished the regular season with 34 points (8G, 26A) in 36 games, ranking fourth on the team... Tyler Motte contributed a pair of helpers in Michigan’s 4-1 win over Michigan State in the BIG 10 tournament semifinals; the Wolverines lost 4-2 in the final to Minnesota. The 2013 fourth-round pick finished his sophomore campaign tied for third on the team in points (31) and ranking third in assists (22).

  • Seven Blackhawks prospects will vie for the national title when the NCAA tournament commences this weekend with the four regional brackets:

    • Defenseman Luc Snuggerud, a 2014 draft choice and freshman with Omaha, will face Harvard in the first round of the Midwest regional bracket (6:30 p.m. on March 28, ESPN3)

    • Louis and Miami are the fourth-overall seed and will take on Providence in the first round of the East regional bracket (5:30 p.m. on March 28, ESPNU)

    • Chris Calnan and Boston College will face Denver in the other first-round game in the East (2 p.m. on March 28, ESPN2)

    • John Hayden and the Yale Bulldogs take on third-seeded Boston University in the first round of the Northeast regional bracket (1 p.m. on March 27, ESPNU)

    • Second-overall seed University of North Dakota features three Blackhawks prospects – 2014 first-round pick Nick Schmaltz, 2013 sixth-round pick Luke Johnson and 2010 sixth-rounder Nick Mattson. They’ll face Quinnipiac in the first round of the West regional bracket (7 p.m. on March 27, ESPNU).

  • Peter Regin contributed a pair of assists in Rockford’s 4-3 shootout win on Wednesday and added another on Friday against the Flames. Regin paces the team with 24 helpers and ranks fourth with 32 points in 57 games this season... Ville Pokka picked up two assists in Sunday’s victory over Texas, including one on the game-winner. He leads IceHogs blueliners with 27 points (7G, 20A) this season... Defensemen Keith Seabrook (1A) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (1A) each posted their first points with the team last week... Alex Broadhurst returned to the lineup on Sunday, making his first appearance since sustaining a shoulder injury in late November.

  • Michael Leighton won both of his starts for Rockford, making a combined 59 saves on 65 shots to improve his record to 17-11-4-2 this season... Antti Raanta posted his first career AHL shutout with a 26-save effort on Saturday against Adirondack; he has yet to lose a game in regulation for the IceHogs this season.

  • The IceHogs wore special jerseys on Sunday for Autism Awareness Night (photo below), and the game-worn sweaters were auctioned off during and after the game, raising nearly $80,000 – a franchise record – for Rockford-area charities. Hartman and Raanta shared the team lead, raising $6,100 each.
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