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Preds Prospects Succeeding In Post-Season Action

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Most amateur hockey leagues across North America are in the middle of their playoffs and several Preds prosopects are making the most of their post-season opportunities, including Zach Budish who helped the University of Minnesota win its NCAA Regional and advance to next week’s Frozen Four.

Budish recorded four assists in two games last weekend to lead Minnesota to wins over Boston University on Saturday and University of North Dakota on Sunday. Minnesota will face top seeded Boston College in the national semifinals next Thursday. For the season, Budish has scored 12 goals and 35 points in 42 games, while posting a +23 plus/minus rating. At 6-3, 229 pounds, Budish has the size and skill to develop into an NHL power-forward.

Two other Preds prospects participated in the NCAA Tournament; defenseman Garrett Noonan and BU lost to Budish’s Minnesota squad, while Chase Balisy and Western Michigan were eliminated by North Dakota. Noonan finished the season with 16 goals and 27 points in 38 games, ranking tied for first in the nation in goals by a defenseman. Balisy posted 13 goals and 37 points in 41 games with five game-winning goals.

Five Preds prospects are still playing in Canadian Juniors playoffs. Austin Watson’s London team, the No. 1 seed in the OHL Western Conference playoffs, holds a 3-0 lead in its first round series, while Josh Shalla and Saginaw, the No. 5 seed in the Conference playoffs, trail 2-1. Shalla, however has five points through the first three games of the series. In the QMJHL, Brent Andrews and No. 6 seed Halifax swept the first round series, 4-0, and Charles-Olivier Roussel, playing for No. 1 seed Saint John, is up 3-0 in the first round series. Out west, Cameron Reid’s Portland squad holds a 3-0 lead in the WHL Western Conference first round series.

Good News From Europe: Preds prospect Mattias Ekholm won the Borje Salming Award as the top defenseman in the Swedish Elite League. Ekholm, 21, opened the season in North America before returning to Sweden early in the season; he scored eight goals and 16 points with 55 penalty minutes in 40 games during the regular season and has added one goal and five points in eight playoff games. His team, Brynas, picked up a 4-2 win in the first round of the Swedish Eliteserien playoffs, with Ekholm assisting on the overtime forcing goal with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation of the series-deciding Game 6. Brynas has split the first two games of the second round.

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