Joel Armia (2011, first round) and his Assat Pori teammates were crowned champions Wednesday thanks to a 3-2 victory over Tappara Tampere in Game Six of the SM-Liiga championship series. The top-line winger recorded one assist in the final round, finishing the playoffs with three goals and eight points in 16 games en route to the Aces collecting their first league title since 1978. Armia joins Mark Pysyk (Edmonton - 2012) and Brayden McNabb (Kootenay - 2011) as recent Sabres prospects to win a league championship.
Despite finishing the year mired in an eight-game goal drought, Armia continued to use his big frame in the offensive zone, competing hard to win board battles and rotating into position as an active shooter. Perhaps even more noticeable was his effective defensive play in the six-game series, a noteworthy development for the scorer on the eve of his expected jump to North America in 2013-14.
Belleville defenseman Brady Austin (2012, seventh round) was named the game’s number three star Friday as the Bulls downed Barrie 3-1 in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final. The Bulls rode the momentum to another 3-1 victory on Saturday to set up a deciding Game Seven on Monday for the right to face the London Knights for the league championship.
A steady rock for the Bulls, Austin has amassed five assists and a plus-14 rating in 16 post-season contests while skating alongside 2013 draft eligible Jordan Subban. Defenseman Alex Lepkowski (2011, fifth round) has continued his physical, stay-at-home play on the Colts blueline, posting a minus-four rating and a fighting major through the series’ first six games.