Fans have gotten what they asked for as the heavyweight bout between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final has featured plenty of points and counterpoints, with a trio of Sabres prospects right in the middle of the action.
Justin Bailey (2013, second round) got his series off to a quick start Thursday, securing one goal and one assist as Sault Ste. Marie snatched a 6-3 victory in Game 1. The Williamsville native scored his seventh goal of the playoffs at 10:10 of the middle frame when he buried a power-play feed from Jared McCann (VAN) to give the Greyhounds a 3-0 lead.
Sault Ste. Marie would squander the three-goal advantage as 2015 draft prospect Connor McDavid lit up the scoreboard with a natural hat trick in the second and third periods, but the stacked Soo attack would close it out down the stretch to take the opener.
Bailey failed to produce as the Greyhounds dropped the next two games to the Otters by scores of 5-2 and 4-2, leaving him with 13 points (7+6) in 11 playoff contests.
Sault Ste. Marie forward Jean Dupuy also scored in the Hounds’ Game 1 triumph. After Bailey collected a neutral zone turnover, Dupuy came down the right boards and made a powerful cut to the front of the net to put the Greyhounds out in front 2-0. Like Bailey, Dupuy was also unable to produce any points in the Game 2 and Game 3 losses. He has three goals in seven postseason appearances.
Erie winger Nicholas Baptiste (2013, third round) has continued to provide secondary offense in the Western Conference Final, assisting on two of McDavid’s markers in Thursday’s opener and adding a power play helper in Friday’s 5-2 victory. On Sunday, Baptiste scored his fifth goal of the playoffs into an empty net to extend his point streak to five games as the Otters cemented their 4-2 victory over the Greyhounds. The output elevates Baptiste to 13 points in 12 playoff games.
The Otters hold a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 Tuesday evening in Erie.
Game 4 – Tuesday, April 28: Sault Ste. Marie at Erie (7 p.m.)
Game 5 – Thursday, April 30: Erie at Sault Ste. Marie (7:07 p.m.)
Game 6 – Saturday, May 2: Sault Ste. Marie at Erie (7 p.m.)*
Game 7 – Monday, May 4: Erie at Sault Ste. Marie (7:07 p.m.)*
(* If necessary)
Vaclav Karabacek (2014, second round) scored his fourth goal of the playoffs last Tuesday (Apr. 21) as Baie-Comeau saw their season come to an end with a 4-3 overtime loss to Val-d’Or in Game 7 of the second-round series. After a faceoff was won back to the left point, Karabacek made his way to the net and tipped the oncoming shot to give the Drakkar a 3-1 lead late in the opening frame.
On Monday (Apr. 20), Karabacek was blanked as the Baie-Comeau saw their commanding 3-0 series lead evaporate with a 4-2 loss to the Foreurs to set up the deciding Game 7. The Czech winger notched 11 points (4+7) in 12 games of the 2015 playoffs, including two goals and one assist in the second-round loss to Val-d’Or.
Christopher Brown (2014, sixth round) was held off the scoresheet again on Friday as Tri-City opened the best-of-five Western Conference Final with a 4-2 doubling of Sioux Falls. Brown, who has yet to connect for a point in three playoff appearances, hasn’t scored a goal in his last 24 games dating back to February 6. The teams will reconvene Wednesday for Game 2.
Game 2 – Wednesday, April 29: Sioux Falls at Tri-City (7:05 p.m.)
Game 3 – Friday, May 1: Tri-City at Sioux Falls (7:05 p.m.)
Game 4 – Saturday, May 2: Tri-City at Sioux Falls** (7:05 p.m.)
Game 5 – Tuesday, May 5: Sioux Falls at Tri-City** (7:05 p.m.)
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.