From the college ranks to major junior leagues, March marked the end of the season for many prospects. It was also a month of NHL debuts for a handful of skaters, while a couple others helped their teams advance deeper down a playoff push. Let's take a look at who stood out.
Joey Daccord wrapped up his regular season at Arizona State with 7 shutouts-tied for the lead among college goaltenders. His impressive performance didn't go unnoticed and he was named one of five finalists for the 2019 Mike Richter award, given to the NCAA's top goaltender. Daccord backstopped Arizona to their first NCAA Tournament nomination in program history-the first appearance by an independent school since 1992. Unfortunately their Cinderella story came to an end with a 2-1 defeat to Quinnipiac on March 30th.
The top playoff performer was freshman forward Jakov Novak. He had 3 goals in 3 games for the Bentley Falcons in their opening round loss to Robert Morris. Listed at 6'3" and 210 pounds, the 2018 7th round pick put up 15 points (7G, 8A) while appearing in all 37 games at Bentley.
Jonathan Gruden, another freshman, capped off his inaugural season at Miami with 4 points in his final 6 games. Gruden's 15 points (3G, 12A) in 38GP rank him seventh on the team in scoring and third among freshmen. The young Miami team will look to bounce back next year after winning only 11 of 38 games this season.
Jacob Bernard-Docker assisted on one of just two goals scored by the University of North Dakota in their playoff loss to Denver. "JBD" finished the season with an impressive 17 points (5G, 12A) in 36GP, good for first on the team in freshman scoring and fourth overall.
Up With The Big Club
Some Sens history was made on March 14th against St. Louis when two recently acquired and highly-touted prospects made their NHL debuts in the same game. Erik Brannstrom showed flashes of his elite skating and vision while logging 17:20 of ice time.
In that same game, Max Veronneau had 5 shots and was named 3rd star. Since signing with Ottawa, the highly-coveted free agent from Princeton hasn't looked out of place. Veronneau has often skated on a line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk, where he's put up 2 points.
March Stats (Ottawa - NHL): 8GP - 2 Points (1G, 1A)
March Stats (Princeton - NCAA): 4GP - 5 Points (4G, 1A)
Vitaly Abramov also made his NHL debut after an emergency recall on March 21st in Calgary. The Russian forward had nearly 14 minutes of ice time and became the 8th prospect to appear in his first NHL game with Ottawa this season.
Meanwhile, Christian Wolanin scored the first game-winning goal of his career on March 14th against St. Louis, and set a personal NHL high with 6 points in a month.
Headin' Out On The 401
Things were busy down in Belleville with 12 games on the schedule. The B-Sens went 6-4-2, giving themselves a good chance to make the playoffs for the first time since the franchise was in Binghamton (2013-14). Leading the way was a familiar face in net and a couple rookies up front.
Goalie Marcus Hogberg started 11 of 12 games and earned Belleville points in 8 of those appearances. His 19 wins so far this season have long surpassed Danny Taylor's team high of 11 wins last season.
Drake Batherson continued his torrid season with another 9 points, highlighted with a 3-point game against Toronto on March 11th. He also had his first professional fight, stepping in after linemate Nick Paul was kneed.
Not to be outdone, fellow AHL rookie Logan Brown recorded his 40th point of the season and moved up to third on the team in scoring. Despite not recording a regulation goal in March, Brown chipped in a couple shootout markers going 2 for 2 and improving to 3 for 6.
Alex Formenton continued his point-per-game pace since returning from injury with 8 points in 8 games to finish up the regular season in mid-March. He kept the good times going with three multi-point games, leading London to an opening round sweep of Windsor in OHL playoff action.
March Regular Season Stats (London - OHL): 8GP - 8 Points (2G, 6A)
March Playoff Stats (London - OHL): 4GP - 11 Points (2G, 9A)
Parker Kelly set new career highs in all offensive categories this season with 35 goals and 32 assists in 64 games with Prince Albert, the top team in the WHL. The Raiders spent little time with their first round opponent, sweeping Red Deer in 4 games thanks in part to 3 points from Kelly.
March Regular Season Stats (Prince Albert - WHL): 5GP - 9 Points (5G, 4A)
March Playoff Stats (Prince Albert - WHL): 4GP - 3 Points (1G, 2A)
Over in the QMJHL, netminder Kevin Mandolese set career highs with 50 games played, 29 wins, and 3 shutouts. After Cape Breton lost their first two playoff games, Mandolese recorded his first playoff shutout in game 3 and led the Eagles to 4 straight wins.
March Regular Season Stats (Cape Breton - QMJHL): 3-2-0, .884 SV%
March Playoff Stats (Cape Breton - QMJHL): 4-2-0, .919 SV%
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