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Three Stars of the Week: April 15-21, 2013

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks
(Greg Hamil/Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Brandon Pirri, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 2GP, 1G, 4A, +3 plus/minus

The IceHogs fell short of a playoff spot despite a valiant push in April, winning eight of nine contests this month. Brandon Pirri, who led Rockford offensively down the stretch with 19 points (3G, 16A) over that span, captured the club’s first-ever John. B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s leading scorer with a career-high 75 points (22G, 53A) in 76 games. The Blackhawks’ second-round draft pick in 2009 logged a goal and two assists on Friday in a 9-4 win at San Antonio, then added a pair of helpers the next night in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory at Texas.

2nd Star: G Mac Carruth, Portland (WHL)
The Line: 2GP, 2-0-0, 1SO

“The Truth” has lived up to his billing this spring and continued his strong play by backstopping Portland to a 2-0 lead over Kamloops in the second round of the WHL playoffs. Carruth stopped 60 of 61 shots over the weekend, including a 27-save shutout in Game 2 on Saturday, his third blanking of the postseason. In a record-breaking season, Chicago’s 2010 draft pick is within striking—or saving—distance of the WHL’s single-season postseason shutout record (six, set in 2006).

(Britta Lewis/Waterloo Blackhawks)

3rd Star: C Vincent Hinostroza, Waterloo (USHL)
The Line: 3GP, 3G, 2A, +4

The Black Hawks began their quest to repeat last year’s Clark Cup Final appearance by getting off a 2-1 start against Fargo in the first round of the USHL playoffs. Hinostroza, the Blackhawks’ sixth-round pick a year ago, ranks second on the team with five points (3G, 2A) in three games last week, including his first playoff hat trick in Game 3 on Sunday. Waterloo can clinch a second-round berth with a win in Game 4 tomorrow night.

Honorable mentions: C Ben Smith, Rockford (AHL); LW Jeremy Morin, Rockford (AHL)

Despite missing 22 games due to injury this season, Ben Smith ranked second on Rockford with 27 goals and fourth with 47 points, as well as sharing the AHL lead with eight game-winning goals. Smith collected 11 points (8G, 3A) in the last four games of the season, including a pair of goals in each game last weekend.

Morin scored his career-high 30th goal of the season on Friday at San Antonio as part of a three-point effort, becoming the first IceHog to reach that plateau since Jeff Taffe in 2010-11. His 28 assists and 58 points also constitute a career high, and he team-most 229 shots on goal ranked sixth in the AHL.

Around the system:

  • Alex Broadhurst logged an assist in London’s 4-3 loss to Plymouth in Game 2 of their second-round matchup. The Knights and Whalers are tied 1-1, with Games 3 and 4 slated for midweek... Defenseman Dillon Fournier was held without a point for Rouyn-Noranda over the weekend, as the Huskies fell behind 2-0 in their second-round series against top-seeded Halifax.

  • The IceHogs reached 42 notches in the win column with a pair of victories over the weekend, although they just missed out on the eighth seed in the Western Conference by two points. Rockford went 22-8-1-0 (.726 winning percentage) dating back to Feb. 5, getting a lot of offensive help along the way. Captain Martin St. Pierre logged two assists on April 19, then added a goal the next night, bringing his season total to 59 points (26G, 33A) in 76 games... Jimmy Hayes scored a pair on a game-high seven shots
    on goal Friday. He ranked fourth on Rockford with 25 tallies this season.

  • Maxime Sauve tallied his first marker as an IceHog on April 19, adding an assist on four shots... Rostislav Olesz collected three assists, all on Friday. The Slovakia native notched 19 points (7G, 12A) in just 14 games this season... Kent Simpson relieved Henrik Karlsson on Saturday and earned his first AHL win as Rockford recovered from a three-goal deficit against Texas. Simpson saved all 32 shots he faced in 38:56 of action.

  • Defenseman Adam Clendening started the comeback on Saturday, scoring his ninth of the season in the second period. The 2011 draft pick ranked second among active defensemen in the league with 46 points in his first professional season... Fellow rookie blueliner Klas Dahlbeck picked up his fifth helper and sixth point of the season on Friday... Steve Montador continued his recovery tour with a pair of assists on Saturday, including one on Smith’s game-winner.

  • Toledo, Chicago’s ECHL affiliate, fell 4-2 to Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs. Byron Froese led the Walleye with six points (2G, 4A) in six games.
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