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PROSPECTS SEASONS END SHORT OF MEMORIAL CUP

by Kris Baker / Buffalo Sabres

The 2015-16 season ended without a championship for the final pair of Sabres prospects participating in Canadian Hockey League playoff action last week, and so for the first time since 2007, a champion will be crowned at the MasterCard Memorial Cup without a Sabres prospect playing at the event.

In Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action, Vaclav Karabacek (2014, second round) scored the game-winning goal Friday to propel the Moncton Wildcats to a 2-1 victory over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in Game 5 of the semifinal series.

With the game knotted 1-1, Karabacek scooped up a loose puck at the right faceoff circle and lit the lamp with a wrist shot at 17:05 of the second period for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Karabacek, who on Tuesday recorded one assist in a 5-1 loss and was then blanked the following night in 1-0 defeat, logged a minus-3 rating Sunday as his Wildcats were eliminated in Game 6 by a 5-4 score. Moncton held a 4-1 lead late in the middle frame, but the Huskies stormed back to close out the series and advance to face Shawinigan for the league title.

Karabacek concludes his postseason with nine points (6+3), 34 shots on goal and a minus-10 rating in 17 contests.


WHL
In the Western Hockey League, Kelowna defenseman Devante Stephens (2015, fifth round) finished with an even rating Tuesday as the Rockets fell to Seattle 3-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Championship.

With their backs against the wall in a 3-0 series hole, Stephens and the Rockets battled admirably Wednesday but ended up getting swept by the Thunderbirds via a 5-4 loss in double-overtime.

In 18 playoff games, Stephens produced one assist and a plus-1 rating.


While the Sabres will not have a prospect of their own on the ice at the Memorial Cup, the organization has certainly been well-represented at the event in recent years:

2015 – Nicholas Baptiste (Erie)
2014 – Nikita Zadorov, Brady Austin (London)
2013 – Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon)
2012 – Mark Pysyk (Edmonton)
2011 – Brayden McNabb (Kootenay), Gregg Sutch (Mississauga-St. Mike's)
2010 – Zack Kassian (Windsor)
2009 – Tyler Myers (Kelowna)
2008 – Paul Byron (Gatineau)

The Red Deer Rebels will host the champions of the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League from May 20-27.


For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects). Stay tuned to Sabres.com for full coverage leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held on June 24 and 25 at First Niagara Center.

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