It’s that time of year, and several of the top prospects in the Blue Jackets organization are currently competing in playoff tournaments for their respective teams throughout junior hockey. All of those clubs are vying for a chance to compete for the Mastercard Memorial Cup -- the crown jewel of Canadian major junior hockey.
Some of the team’s prospects have also recently signed their first professional contracts, either out of college or the junior ranks. Will Weber (Miami of Ohio), Boone Jenner (Oshawa Generals), and Jake Hansen (University of Minnesota) are three who are now under contract with Columbus and played the final weekend of the season with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons – top affiliate of the Blue Jackets.
There are Blue Jackets prospects who have played/are playing in the postseason all over North America right now, and BlueJackets.com is here to take you across the hockey map to see how some of them have fared. SETH AMBROZLW #17 – UNIV. OF MINNESOTA
SEASON STATS: 41 GP, 5 GOALS, 3 ASSISTS
STATUS: Eliminated in national (NCAA) semifinal
Scouts around the hockey world were stunned when Ambroz fell into the Blue Jackets’ lap in the fifth round. He was thought by many to be a sure-fire top-40 draft selection, but ended up going to Columbus at No. 128 overall. After spending three seasons with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, Ambroz made the jump to Division I college hockey and was part of a team with championship aspirations. The Gophers won five of their last six regular-season games and entered the WCHA Tournament on a roll. Despite a 6-3 loss to North Dakota in the Final Five, the Gophers earned a berth in the NCAA West Regional and won back-to-back games against Boston University and North Dakota to advance to the Frozen Four, held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
In sunny Florida was where Minnesota’s run ended, as the Gophers dropped a 6-1 decision to Boston College (the eventual national champions) in the NCAA semifinal. Ambroz is expected to return for his sophomore season and challenge for top six minutes on a dynamic offensive club.BOONE JENNERC #22 – OSHAWA GENERALS
SEASON STATS: 43 GP, 22 GOALS, 27 ASSISTS
STATUS: Eliminated in first round of OHL playoffs
Jenner’s style of play is said to be tailor-made for the playoffs, and he certainly backed that up with a tremendous postseason for the Generals. Despite missing a large portion of Oshawa’s season due to the World Junior championships and a concussion suffered just after his return, Jenner stepped up as the team captain and helped solidify his club’s playoff seeding in the final month of the season. He registered four goals and seven assists in six playoffs games as the Generals were defeated in the first round by the Niagara IceDogs – but the 19-year-old is in good position for a return to Oshawa next season if he doesn’t earn a spot in Blue Jackets training camp.
After the Generals were knocked out of the OHL playoffs, Jenner signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets and reported to the Springfield Falcons (AHL) for the final week of the season. In the Falcons’ playoff push, Jenner also scored his first professional goal. MIKE REILLYD #5 – PENTICTON VEES
SEASON STATS: 51 GP, 24 GOALS, 59 ASSISTS
STATUS: Penticton leads Brooks, 2-1, in Doyle Cup
Reilly may be one of the lesser-known Blue Jackets prospects, but the 18-year-old Minnesota commit has a tremendously bright future. In his first season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Reilly put up an astounding 83 points in 51 games, and was a key contributor to the Vees’ record-setting 44-game winning streak in the middle of the season. The Vees swept the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) on the road to open their series, but dropped Game 3 at home in Penticton on Tuesday night. Reilly has picked up 1-8-9 in 15 playoff games to date and is one of the offensive game-breakers for the Vees, whose regular-season record was 54-4-0-2.
He is on schedule to play for the Gophers next year, but the Doyle Cup is the primary focus right now. The Vees are looking to rebound in Game 4, after yielding a 2-0 lead late in the second period in the third game of the series. PETR STRAKARW #23 – RIMOUSKI OCEANIC
SEASON STATS: 54 GP, 18 GOALS, 19 ASSISTS
STATUS: Rimouski leads Halifax, 2-1, in QMJHL semifinals
While the 2011-12 regular season wasn’t the best from an offensive standpoint, Straka’s playmaking ability is still best described as “elite” and he is putting up points for Rimouski in the playoffs. In the first three games of the second QMJHL semifinal series, Straka has registered two goals and three assists and has been one of the most consistent players for Oceanic head coach Serge Beausoleil. Straka has six goals, seven assists and is a +2 in Rimouski’s first 14 playoff games and is proving to be a go-to player in the clutch.
Halifax and Rimouski have followed similar paths to where they currently stand: the Mooseheads swept the Moncton Wildcats (former junior club of Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard) out of the first round, and needed the full seven games to dispatch the Quebec Remparts in the quarterfinal. Oceanic took care of Val d’Or in four games to open the tournament, and defeated Blainville-Boisbriand in seven games to reach the semifinal. The winner of their series will face the team that emerges from the other semifinal, featuring Saint John and Chicoutimi. MATHIEU CORBEILG #35 – SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS
SEASON STATS: 48 GP, 37-10-1, 6 SHUTOUTS
STATUS: Saint John leads Chicoutimi, 2-1, in QMJHL semifinals
When Corbeil was summoned to Columbus on emergency recall back in October, he talked about how well his Sea Dogs team was playing and how anything less than a return to the Memorial Cup would be a disappointment. The team has backed up that claim, and with Corbeil between the pipes, Saint John is poised to challenge for another championship under the direction of head coach Gerard Gallant. The 20-year-old netminder has parlayed an impressive season of 37 victories into an equally stellar postseason, and needs two more wins to play for the QMJHL title.
The Sea Dogs’ overtime loss in Game 3 to Chicoutimi was their first loss of the 2012 playoffs, and Corbeil has been essential to their success. He has allowed just 26 goals in the first 11 playoff games and his postseason record sits at 10-0-1 with a pivotal fourth game looming tomorrow night.AUSTIN MADAISKYD #23 – KAMLOOPS BLAZERS
SEASON STATS: 70 GP, 13 GOALS, 37 ASSISTS
STATUS: Eliminated by Portland Winterhawks, 4-3, in second round of WHL playoffs
The 2011-12 edition of the storied Kamloops Blazers franchise set a lot of records and turned heads around the Western Hockey League, and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback in the second round of the playoffs. Madaisky was one of the anchors on the blue line all season long and, for the third straight year, increased his offensive production and put up a 50-point campaign. After falling back 3-0 in the best-of-seven series to Portland, Madaisky and the Blazers rallied all the way back to force a Game 7 in Portland. The Winterhawks’ 2-0 win marked the end of the line for Kamloops, but the Blazers won the B.C. Division title for the first time since 2001-02 and got past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since 1998-99. Known as a mobile, offensive defenseman, Madaisky put up seven assists in nine playoff games and logged significant ice time in all situations. LUKAS SEDLAKLW #22 – CHICOUTIMI SAGUENEENS
SEASON STATS: 50 GP, 17 GOALS, 28 ASSISTS
STATUS: Chicoutimi trails Saint John, 2-1, in QMJHL semifinals
Widely thought to have a ceiling as a defensive-minded center, Sedlak showed an offensive touch this season as Chicoutimi is making a somewhat surprising run to the QMJHL semifinal. The Sagueneens are up against a powerhouse in Saint John (featuring Blue Jackets prospect Mathieu Corbeil), but they showed resiliency by bouncing back with a 5-4 win on home ice Tuesday night. The 19-year-old native of Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic has scored five goals and seven points in the 16-game playoff run so far, and regularly draws shifts against the Sea Dogs’ best players.
Chicoutimi head coach Marc-Etienne Hubert’s team is in the mix to author a great comeback against a Saint John team that had not lost in this year’s playoffs until Tuesday. The Sea Dogs swept both Cape Breton and Baie-Comeau in the first two rounds, while Chicoutimi needed seven games to dispatch Shawinigan in the quarterfinal. TOP HEADLINES
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