March has arrived, and with the CHL and NCAA regular seasons wrapping up in the next two weeks, several Buffalo Sabres prospects are ramping up their games for what should be an exciting playoff season.
Nicholas Baptiste (2013, third round) kept his excellent second half going Saturday, scoring his 41st goal of the year as Sudbury lost to Niagara 5-2. The night before, Baptiste scored the game-winning goal with 2:17 to play and added an assist in the Wolves’ 6-5 triumph over league front-runner Guelph. The productive week gives the speedy right-winger nine goals in his last eight games, boosting his season point total 80 points through 60 contests. The Wolves currently hold a two-point lead on North Bay for first place in the OHL’s Central Division.
Justin Kea (2012, third round) scored twice Friday and added an assist to earn the game’s number one star as Saginaw downed Kitchener 5-2. On Saturday, Kea was unable to get on the scoresheet in a 4-2 loss to Erie, putting an end to his four-game point streak in his return from a hand injury. Kea’s weekly output, which included his fourth shorthanded marker of the season and his third game winner, elevates the hard-working centerman to 19 goals and 41 points through 52 games.
Saginaw captain Eric Locke (2013, seventh round) notched an assist Saturday in the Spirit’s loss to the Otters. Locke, who has points in four straight games, has produced 21 goals and 32 assists in an injury-shortened 42-game campaign for the Spirit, who maintain the sixth position in the Western Conference playoff race.
Nikita Zadorov (2013, first round) posted two assists Wednesday as London stormed back from a three-goal deficit to defeat Erie 5-3. Zadorov’s helpers came on the game-tying goal and a late empty-netter. The big left-hander enters the final two weeks of the season with 28 points (11+17) in 31 games.
London defender Brady Austin (2012 seventh round) had one assist in the week’s three games. Aside from posting a career-best 31 points (9+22), Austin ranks sixth in the league with a plus-42 rating. The Knights currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with six games left to play.
Justin Bailey (2013, second round) missed his eighth straight game with an upper body injury as Kitchener dropped a 2-1 decision at Sault Ste. Marie. The Rangers’ leading offensive producer this season with 25 goals and 43 points, Bailey is already listed as out for Tuesday’s date with Guelph. The Rangers are 10 points back of the final Western Conference playoff spot with just six games left on the regular season schedule.
Mikhail Grigorenko (2012, first round) rang up a goal and two assists on Sunday as Quebec was defeated in overtime 5-4 by Val-d’Or. The 19-year old Grigorenko, whose three-point night earned him the game’s number two star, fattened his stat line to 13 goals and 26 points in 17 games since being re-assigned to the Remparts.
William Carrier (2013, second round by STL) used a power move to capture his 18th goal of the year as Drummondville pitched a 4-0 shutout of Gatineau on Sunday. The even-strength marker gives Carrier goals in four of his last six games. Carrier, acquired from St. Louis on Friday in the trade for Ryan Miller, rounded out his second star performance with a game-high eight shots on goal.
Logan Nelson (2012, fifth round) picked up one assist in two games last week as Victoria earned a road sweep at Prince George. Nelson has 50 points (22+28) through 53 outings. The Royals are all but locked into the third position in the Western Conference playoff race, 10 points ahead of fourth-place Seattle with six games remaining.
Sean Malone (2013, sixth round) connected for his sixth goal of the year on the power play as Harvard finished off the regular season with a 3-2 loss at Cornell. The goal gives the freshman pivot 19 points in 29 games. The Crimson opens the ECAC playoffs next weekend with a best-of-three matchup at Yale.
Anthony Florentino (2013, fifth round) scored his fourth goal of the year - and the first game winner of his NCAA career - as No. 12 Providence ended the Hockey East regular season schedule with a 3-2 victory at Maine. The power-play tally snaps Florentino’s 10-game point drought, leaving the freshman defender with nine points (4+5) through 25 games. With a third-place finish in the league standings, the Friars get an opening round bye next weekend before hosting a best-of-three quarterfinal series beginning on Friday, March 14.
On Friday, J.T. Compher (2013, second round) recorded an assist as No. 13 Michigan played to a 2-2 tie with Ohio State. The true freshman contributed one shot on goal as Michigan rode three extra man tallies to a 4-3 win over Ohio State. Compher continues to pace the Wolverines with 28 points (11+17) through 30 contests, while collecting all three of Michigan’s short-handed goals this season. Next up for the Wolverines is a home-and-home set with rival Michigan State beginning Friday at Yost Arena.
Christian Isackson (2010, seventh round) was scratched for both games over the weekend as No. 2 Minnesota earned a B1G sweep of Penn State. The junior forward has four points (1+3) in 17 appearances.
The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers were idle last week, giving juniors Jake McCabe (2012, second round) and Brad Navin (2011, seventh round) a week to prepare for Friday’s game at Penn State.
Connor Hurley (2013, second round) notched a goal and an assist Sunday to help Green Bay to a 6-3 doubling of Cedar Rapids. Hurley entered the game after a strong Saturday effort that saw him collect two assist on the power play in the Gamblers’ 5-2 victory over Omaha. Hurley has points in five of his last six games to boost his season totals to 11 goals and 40 points through 45 appearances. Green Bay is currently tied with Chicago for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
In Tuesday action, Cal Petersen (2013, fifth round) made 29 saves to earn the game’s number three star as Waterloo edged Lincoln 3-2. Petersen was back in goal on Friday, allowing five goals on 32 shots before exiting the game midway through the second period as Waterloo was dominated 6-2 by Indiana. Petersen (24-5-3) tops the league in wins, while posting a 2.51 GAA and .916 save%. The Black Hawks, who have already clinched a postseason berth, are one point behind Omaha for the top position in the Western Conference standings with 13 games left to catch them.
Judd Peterson (2012, seventh round) missed his seventh game Sunday with a lower body injury as Cedar Rapids was beaten by Green Bay. Despite his absence, Peterson’s 15 goals remain tied for the most among all RoughRiders skaters. Cedar Rapids is currently tied for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Swedish Hockey League (SHL)
Linus Ullmark (2012, sixth round) earned the start Tuesday in the first game back from the Olympic break, making 27 saves as MODO was defeated by the Vaxjo Laker 3-2 in overtime. Ullmark returned to the net Saturday, making 31 saves while receiving zero goal support as MODO was blanked 1-0 by Farjestads BK. Ullmark has lost his last three starts, slipping to 15-15 on the year with a 1.97 GAA (3rd in SHL) and .935 save% (1st). It’s going to be a wild scramble for playoff position right down to the wire, with MODO and Brynas IF currently tied for seventh place, one point behind fifth-place holders Farjestads BK and Leksands IF, with all four teams having three games left to play.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.