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3 Stars of the Week: Motte piling up points, Leighton reaches AHL mark

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(Photo courtesy University of Michigan Athletics)

1st Star: C/RW Tyler Motte, University of Michigan (Big 10)
The Line: 2GP, 4G, 3A

Motte’s line at Michigan keeps producing goals, and the junior forward collected another seven points over the weekend. He shared the team lead with five points (2G, 3A) and paced the Wolverines with 12 shots on goal in a 7-4 win over Penn State on Thursday, then tallied twice more against the same team on Saturday in Madison Square Garden. The 2013 fourth-round pick now leads the nation with 22 goals in 23 games this season, while his 35 points rank third on Michigan, which continues to score at an NCAA-best clip of five goals per game.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

2nd Star: C/W Vincent Hinostroza, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 3G, 3A

The IceHogs hit their stride in January, cruising to four-point lead in the Central Division, and one of the biggest reasons why is the emergence of Vinnie Hinostroza, who posted 12 points in 12 games over the course of the month. The first-year pro netted six points (3G, 3A) in three games, helping Rockford win two of three. His best outing of the week was a three-point effort on Friday in a big 6-0 win over Chicago, and he now leads the team with 26 points (10G, 16A) in 38 games this season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

3rd Star: G Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 2-0-1-0, 45th career shutout

Leighton went into the All-Star break on a roll, having secured at least one point for the IceHogs in each of his last 13 starts dating back to Dec. 19. But he was especially impressive over the last two weeks, when he posted three shutouts in seven games to tie Johnny Bower for the AHL’s all-time record in shutouts. His 45th career blank sheet came on Saturday against Chicago, when he stopped all 20 shots he faced, and he totaled 67 saves on 71 shots in three appearances last week, improving his record to a conference-best 23-4-4-1.

Honorable mentions: D Joni Tuulola, HPK (FIN); LW Graham Knott, Niagara (OHL)

Tuulola had his most productive week of the season for HPK in the Finnish league, picking up three assists in three games. The 2015 sixth-round pick assisted on HPK’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Espoo on Wednesday, then collected two more helpers in a 5-3 loss to HIFK on Sunday; he now has seven assists in 39 games this season.

Knott, Chicago’s second-round pick in 2015, notched four points in three games for the IceDogs last week, including a three-point night (1G, 2A) to lead Niagara to a 6-1 win over Sudbury on Friday. Knott now has 21 helpers—fourth on the team—and 30 points in 47 games this season.

Around the system:

  • Defenseman Gustav Forsling picked up a goal and an assist while appearing in three games for Linkoping in the Swedish league last week. He scored his third goal of the season in a 4-1 win over Malmo on Tuesday, then added his 13th helper of the campaign in a 5-1 win over HV71. The 19-year-old was named to Team Sweden (PDF roster) for the Euro Hockey Tour.

  • Roy Radke extended his point streak to three games with three points in two appearances for Barrie in the OHL last week. He posted a pair of helpers in a 6-3 win over Oshawa on Friday, then scored his 16th of the season in a 3-2 win over Niagara the next night. The 2015 fifth-round pick now has 32 points in 47 games this season.

  • Anthony Louis opened the scoring for Miami of Ohio in their 3-1 win over Denver University on Friday; the 2013 sixth-round pick ranks second on the team with 18 points (6G, 12A) in 25 games this season... Defenseman Luc Snuggerud tallied his third goal of the season and the game-winner for Nebraska–Omaha in a 6-1 win over Colorado College on Saturday; the 2014 fifth-round pick now leads team defensemen with 13 points in 25 games this season... Freshman forward Beau Starrett returned from injury to play two games for Cornell over the weekend.

  • Ryan Hartman notched a pair of assists in Rockford’s 6-0 win over Chicago on Friday, then added a goal the next night against the Wolves. Going into the AHL All-Star break, he shares second on the team with 25 points in 39 games... Tanner Kero posted a point in all three IceHogs games last week, including goals in both Lottery Cup contests against the Wolves... Marko Dano notched a goal and an assist in three games for Rockford last week... After making his NHL debut last Tuesday, Mark McNeill was reassigned to the IceHogs and continued where he left off, compiling an assist in all three games to extend his career-long point streak to nine games (4G, 6A)... Bryan Bickell also totaled three helpers in three outings for Rockford last week.
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