The CHL playoffs get under way on Thursday with every Devils prospect participating. Here's the scoop:
Michael McLeod missed the start of the season with an injury and missed even more time while earning a goal and three assist in seven games to help Canada win gold at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, but the 12th overall selection in 2016 finished the regular season with 16 goals and 28 assists for 44 points in 38 games. He and the Mississauga Steelheads lead the Barrie Colts, the top seed in the Central Division, 1-0 in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs after a dominating 6-2 win Thursday night in which McLeod earned a goal and an assist.
Marian Studenic, who was selected in the 5th round last June and represented his native Slovakia at the World Junior Championship, finished the regular season with 20 goals and 28 assists for 48 points in 62 games. He and the Hamilton Bulldogs clinched the top seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference and have a 1-0 lead agaisnt the Ottawa 67s in the first round.
Evan Cormier, who was selected in the 4th round in 2016, finished the season with a record of 22-16-7, a 3.18 goals against average and .900 save percentage. He and the Saginaw Spirit will go up against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the best team in the OHL (by 19 points), in the opening round of the post season with their first game on Friday.
Colby Sissons, who signed as a free agent in October 2016, finished the season with 13 goals and 58 assists for 71 points from the blueline in 72 games. He and Swift Current, who were in a heated race for the top spot in the Western Hockey League with Moose Jaw and fell just short of that goal, will face the Regina Pats in the first round starting Friday.
Jocktan Chainey, who was selected in the 7th round last June, finished the regular season with seven goals and 33 assists for 40 points from the blueline in 66 games. He and the Halifax Mooseheads, who finished second in the Maritimes Division, will go up against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar on Friday in the first round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Across all leagues, each series is a best-of-seven and all games are available for live streaming with a paid subscription through the league and team websites.***
In NCAA action, Reilly Walsh's season has ended as Harvard did not qualify for the 16-team NCAA tournament which starts on Friday. The 18-year-old defenseman was selected in the 3rd round this past June and finished his freshman season with seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 33 games.
Matthew Hellickson and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame won the Big Ten regular season as well as the conference tournament and earned the #1 seed in the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. They will face Michigan Tech, who won the WCHA championship to earn their spot in the national tournament. You can watch their game live on Friday at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. Should they advance to the regional final and have the opportunity to punch their ticket to the Frozen Four, you can watch that game against the winner of Clarkson and Providence on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Joey Anderson and Minnesota Duluth had a rough weekend in the NCHC tournament losing both of their games, which caused them to drop in the pairwise (the mathematical equation that measures success against strength of schedule to determine seeding for the NCAA tournament) to 12th overall. They will face Minnesota State in the West Regional in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday at 7:30 p.m. You can watch it live online at ESPN3. Should they advance to the regional final against the winner of St Cloud State (the top seed in the entire tournament) and Air Force, you can catch that game on Saturday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
Jeremy Davies and Northeastern will square off against Michigan in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. You can catch that game live on ESPNews. Should they win, they will play the winner of Cornell and Boston University on Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
As a reminder, the Frozen Four starts April 5th with the national championship game on the 7th at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, MN. All three games will air live on ESPN2.***
In Europe, the Espoo Jr Blues were eliminated from the playoffs. Aarne Talvite finished the season with 34 goals and 24 assists for 58 points in 41 games. The Finnish Junior League player of the year suffered an injury at the end of the season, but is expected to play with the Finnish national junior team at the upcoming U20 Five Nations tournament next month in preparation for the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria.
Jesper Boqvist and Brynas IF are in the Swedish Hockey League quarterfinals down 2-1 in a best-of-seven series against top seeded Vaxjo HC with upcoming games on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday and Friday next week, if necessary.
Farjestad BK's J20 team was eliminated from the playoffs this weekend and Fabian Zetterlund has rejoined the men's team, who are down 2-0 in a best-of-seven quarterfinal series against Skelleftea AIK in the SHL playoffs. Their next games are Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week, if needed.
Although he hasn't played any games in the best-of-seven series so far, Nikita Popugaev is practicing with CSKA Moscow who is currently leading Jokerit 3-2 in their Kontinental Hockey League quarterfinal matchup. He might get into the line up in their next game on Saturday, simply for his fresh legs. Game 5 on Thursday needed fn epic five overtimes to decide a winner.
Mikhail Maltsev and SKA-Neva of the VHL (AHL equivalent in KHL) are leading their best-of-seven quarterfinal series against Toros, 3-2. Their next game is on Friday.
Yegor Zaitsev and Dynamo Moscow have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Gilles Senn and HC Davos have also been eliminated from the playoffs in Switzerland.