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3 Stars of the Week: March 17-23, 2014

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks
(Photo courtesy Miami University Athletics)

1st Star: C Anthony Louis, Miami University of Ohio (NCHC)
The Line: 2GP, 3G

In an underdog surprise, the eighth-seeded Miami RedHawks eliminated North Dakota with a 3-0 win to reach the first-ever NCHC title game, then put up a good fight against Denver before losing 4-3 in the tournament final. Louis tallied in Friday’s 3-0 blanking over UND, then netted two more goals the next night in a losing effort. The Winfield, Ill., native ended his freshman campaign with 25 points (12G, 13A) in 36 games, ranking fifth on the team.

(Photo by Mackenzie McCluer)

2nd Star: D Travis Brown, Victoria (WHL)
The Line: 2GP, 1G, 1A

As the Western Hockey League playoffs got underway last week, Brown helped the Victoria Royals get out to a 2-0 series lead over the Spokane Chiefs, compiling a goal and an assist, including the overtime game-winner in a 2-1 win on March 22; the 2012 draft pick added an assist the next night in a 4-3 overtime win. The first round shifts to Spokane, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

(Todd Reicher/Rockford IceHogs)

3rd Star: G Jason LaBarbera, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 1GP, 35 SV in SO win

Rockford got mixed results from their home-and-home series against the Chicago Wolves last weekend, losing 6-0 at Chicago on Friday, but holding on for a 2-1 shootout victory at home the next night behind LaBarbera’s 35-save effort. In 23 games with the IceHogs, the 34-year-old has a 13-8-1-2 record with a 2.77 goals against-average and .912 save percentage.

Honorable mentions: D Nick Mattson, North Dakota (NCHC); D Adam Clendening, Rockford (AHL)

Although North Dakota was shut out 3-0 by Miami in the NCHC semifinals, the team recovered quickly to win 5-0 in the third-place match against Western Michigan last Saturday, with junior defenseman Mattson contributing a pair of helpers in the game. The 2010 draft pick set career highs with 17 assists and 21 points in 37 games in UND’s inaugural NCHC campaign.

Clendening collected his 42nd assist of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Chicago, and in doing so, set a single-season defenseman assist record for Rockford. The 2011 second-round draft pick leads the club with a career-high 50 points in 64 games this season.

Around the system:

  • Boston College forward Kevin Hayes was named one of 10 finalists for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award, given to the most outstanding player in college hockey each year. Hayes ranked second on the team and third in the nation with 56 points (24G, 32A) in 37 games with the Eagles during his senior season; BC enters the NCAA playoffs as the second-overall seed behind Minnesota and the top-ranked team in the Northeastern regional bracket.

  • Notre Dame’s bid for a title in their first Hockey East campaign came up short as they were shut out 4-0 by UMass-Lowell—the eventual champions—in the semifinal on Friday. Freshman forward Vincent Hinostroza finished the conference tournament with a goal and three assists in four outings, while senior defenseman Stephen Johns netted four points (3G, 1A) in as many games.

  • The inaugural BIG10 tournament took place over three days and saw plenty of action from Blackhawks prospects. Tyler Motte and Michigan were upset in Thursday’s first-round game, losing 2-1 in double overtime to Penn State; the 2013 draft selection finished his first college season with 18 points (9G, 9A) in 34 games, second among team freshmen.

  • Ohio State turned some heads last weekend, defeating Michigan State 2-1 in overtime in the first round before upsetting top-seeded tournament hosts Minnesota—including 2010 second-round pick Justin Holl—3-1 in the semifinal game. The Buckeyes’ surprise run was finally slowed down in Saturday’s title game against Wisconsin, who recovered from a two-goal deficit in the third period to prevail 5-4 in overtime. Defenseman Sam Jardine played tough minutes in all three games and finished his sophomore campaign with 13 points (1G, 12A) in 36 games.

  • Cornell dropped a 5-2 decision in the ECAC tournament semifinal to eventual champion Union. Defenseman Kirill Gotovets completed his senior season with four points (1G, 3A) in 32 games with the Big Red.

  • Brad Mills tallied his sixth goal of the season for the IceHogs in their 2-1 win over Chicago on Saturday, while Garret Ross and Pierre-Marc Bouchard converted their chances in the shootout to clinch the win. With just 11 games left in the regular season, Rockford sits in seventh place in the Western Conference with a 31-25-5-4 record.

  • Maxim Shalunov recorded four assists in three games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye last week, including a pair in a 4-1 win over Gwinnett on Saturday. Shalunov has 26 points (12G, 14A) in 34 games with Toledo this season... Defenseman Joe Gleason posted a pair of helpers over the same span and now has 18 points (3G, 15A) in 48 games.

At the conclusion of last weekend’s conference tournaments, eight Blackhawks prospects booked places in the NCAA playoffs. This weekend’s regional brackets will determine the finalists for the Frozen Four, which will take place from April 10-12 in Philadelphia.

East Regional (March 28)
Bridgeport, Conn.

(1) Union vs. (4) Vermont
Prospects: D Michael Paliotta (Vermont)
Broadcast: ESPNU/WatchESPN, 1 p.m. CDT

If Vermont wins, they will play either (2) Quinnipiac or (3) Providence on March 29.

Midwest Regional (March 28)
Cincinnati, Ohio

(1) Wisconsin vs. (4) North Dakota
Prospects: D Nick Mattson, C Luke Johnson (North Dakota)
Broadcast: ESPNU/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. CDT

If North Dakota wins, they will play either (2) Ferris State or (3) Colgate on March 29.

Northeast Regional (March 29)
Worcester, Mass.

(1) Boston College vs. (4) Denver
Prospects: C/RW Kevin Hayes, RW Chris Calnan (Boston College)
Broadcast: ESPNU/WatchESPN, 3 p.m. CDT

If Boston College wins, they will play wither (2) UMass-Lowell or (3) Minnesota State-Mankato on March 30.

West Regional (March 29)
Saint Paul, Minn.

(1) Minnesota vs. (4) Robert Morris
Prospects: D Justin Holl (Minnesota)
Broadcast: ESPN2/WatchESPN, 4:30 p.m. CDT

(2) Notre Dame vs. (3) St. Cloud State
Prospects: D Stephen Johns, C Vincent Hinostroza (Notre Dame)
Broadcast: ESPNU/WatchESPN, 8 p.m. CDT

The winners of the two first-round matchups will meet on March 30.

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