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Looking For Championships

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com


While the Panthers will ultimately miss the playoffs again this season, numerous Panthers prospects will get or are already getting valuable learning experience as they play in their respective playoffs.

All-in-all, 17 prospects will be in action this week and hopefully the ensuing weeks as they compete for their respective league championships.

Garrett Wilson will try to captain his Owen Sound Attack team to a J. Ross Robertson Cup in the OHL playoffs. (Photo Credit: John Carrick)
In the Ontario Hockey League, Garrett Wilson (Owen Sound; No. 1 Seed in the Western Conference), John McFarland (Saginaw; No. 2 Seed in the Western Conference), David Pacan (Niagara; No. 2 Seed in the Eastern Conference), Erik Gudbranson and Corey Durocher (Kingston; No. 5 Seed in the Eastern Conference) all have a great chance to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL champion and a trip to the Memorial Cup. Kingston begins their quest tonight against Oshawa while Niagara (vs Brampton), Owen Sound (vs London) and Saginaw (vs Guelph) will start playoff play Friday.

Out west in the Western Hockey League, Alex Petrovic (Red Deer; No. 2 Seed in the Eastern Conference), Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw; No. 5 Seed in the Eastern Conference) and Josh Birkholz (Everett, No. 8 Seed in the Western Conference) will all fight for the right to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Red Deer (vs Edmonton) and Moose Jaw (vs Kootenay) start Friday and Everett (vs Portland) begin Saturday.

Recently signed Jonathan Hazen and his Val d-Or team will begin their quest for the President's Cup against Quebec Friday. As the 14th seed going against the 3rd seed, Val d-Or will look for the upset.

In college hockey, seven prospects will look to win their Regionals and make it to the Frozen Four and compete for a National Title.

Unfortunately the bracket makers were not kind in putting North Dakota, Denver and Western Michigan all in the Midwest Region. Corban Knight and Derrick LaPoint look to help their top seeded North Dakota team win their eighth NCAA championship when they play RPI Saturday. Positioned as a second seed, Denver led by Drew Shore, John Lee and freshman netminder Sam Brittain will battle Ryan Watson and third-seed Western Michigan on Saturday.

WEBSITES
 * OHL WEBSITE
 * QMJHL WEBSITE
 * WHL WEBSITE
 * AJHL WEBSITE
 * NCAA WEBSITE
Also in the NCAA tournament, Minnesota-Duluth and Joe Basaraba will take on Union on Friday as the third-seed in the East Region.

One prospect that has already seen playoff action and is still looking for an Alberta Junior Hockey League championship is Ben Gallacher. His Camrose Kodiaks are currently in the South Division Finals as a second seed but are trailing top-seeded Okotoks 3-1. Game five is Friday night. The defenseman is fourth on his team in playoff scoring with eight points (3-5-8) in 13 games.

All these prospects, are looking to improve on strong regular seasons. Wilson (40-46-86; 2nd), Howden (40-39-79; 2nd), Hazen (41-42-83, 1st), Petrovic (7-50-57; 1st among D), Gudbranson (12-22-34, 2nd among D), Shore (22-21-43, 1st) and Knight (13-29-42, 2nd) all led or were near the top of their team in scoring.

Floridapanthers.com will keep tabs on the prospects in the playoffs as they all gun for their respective championship.
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