|Blackhawks prospect Mac Carruth has won seven of eight WHL playoff games in Portland's playoff run. (Photo courtesy of WHL/Bryan Heim)|
As the second round of the Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League playoffs passed their halfway points, the outlook for Mac Carruth and the Portland Winterhawks became clearer, while Brandon Saad and the Saginaw Spirit still face a tough test ahead.
Brandon Saad and the fifth-ranked Saginaw Spirit have found themselves in a familiar position in their second-round series against the London Knights: tied 2-2 after the first four games of the series. Saginaw’s first-round matchup against Sarnia was similarly tied before the Spirit won the next two contests. Saginaw and London split a pair of 5-2 games earlier this week, with each team winning on the road. Spirit captain Saad recorded two assists in Game 3, but was held scoreless in Game 4.Click here to read the full post >>
|Mac Carruth and his Portland Winterhawks are undefeated in six games through the first two rounds of the WHL playoffs. (Photo courtesy of WHL/Bryan Heim)|
Two Blackhawks prospects are providing veteran experience as their teams continue battling in the second round of the CHL playoffs; Saginaw captain Brandon Saad is playing in his second postseason with the Spirit, and Portland goaltender Mac Carruth already has two playoff runs under his belt with the Winterhawks. Through the first two games of their respective second-round series, Saad and Carruth have made significant contributions to try and lead their teams further into the postseason.
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|Photo by Getty Images
Is it officially a dynasty for Boston College? The Eagles have won three NCAA titles in the last five years: 2008, 2010 and now 2012. The top-ranked team in the nation steamrolled their way through this year’s edition, outscoring opponents 16-2 in four tournament games. BC finished their campaign with 19 consecutive victories dating back to Jan. 27.
Eagles center Kevin Hayes, Chicago’s first-round draft pick in 2010, now joins a growing list of title-winning BC alum in the organization, including his brother, Jimmy, who is about to try for postseason success with the Blackhawks, and Ben Smith, NCAA tournament hero in 2008 and 2010.Click here to read the full post >>
|Kevin Hayes (No. 12) watches the action from the bench during Boston College's 6-1 NCAA semifinal victory over Minnesota on April 5. (Photo by Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes, as younger siblings tend to do, is trying his best to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Jimmy, now with the Blackhawks, won an NCAA title with Boston College in 2010. One of his frequent linemates that year was Chris Kreider; the other was Ben Smith. Smith, of course, currently plays for the IceHogs. Kreider, a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2009, is still at BC, playing wing for the younger Hayes.
Jimmy tallied three points—a goal and two assists—in the 2010 Frozen Four. Kevin, in trying to capture that same title two years later, has one point so far, but it was a big one for BC, who defeated Minnesota 6-1 last night in Tampa to make the title game for the fifth time in seven seasons.Click here to read the full post >>
|Brandon Saad, 2011 second-round draft pick, led the Saginaw Spirit with 12 points (6G, 6A) in six first-round appearances.|
One round is in the books, and two Blackhawks representatives are left in the hunt for hardware: Mac Carruth in the Western Hockey League and Brandon Saad in the Ontario Hockey League.
Saginaw passed a stern first-round test against Sarnia, besting the Sting in a six-game series. The Spirit will face the London Knights in the second round of the OHL playoffs, hosting Game 2 on April 8. The Knights—who count Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane among their alumni—finished the regular season with the OHL’s best record (49-18-0-1) and swept their series against Windsor in the first round.
- Brandon Saad: The Spirit captain led by example, pacing the team with six goals, six helpers and a +7 plus/minus rating in six games. Saad dropped four points (2G, 2A) in Saginaw’s 5-2 victory over Sarnia in Game 5, including the game-winning goal and an empty-netter to seal the victory.
- Ludvig Rensfeldt: Sarnia's Swedish winger was held to just one assist in the final two games, but finished with five points (2G, 3A) in six appearances.
|Spirit captain Brandon Saad contributed two goals and a helper in Saginaw's 4-3 overtime win, tying their series against Saginaw at two games apiece. (Photo courtesy Terry Wilson/Saginaw Spirit)|
After four games in the first round of the CHL playoffs, four Blackhawks prospects remain in the hunt for a league title and a trip to the Memorial Cup later this spring, while three others were eliminated.Click here to read the full post >>
|As Sarnia and Saginaw continue to battle in the first round of the OHL playoffs, Ludwig Rensfeldt has two goals in three games for the Sting, while Brandon Saad scored three goals and added two assists for the Spirit.|
As the first round of the Canadian Hockey League playoffs kicked into action last weekend, the outlook for seven Blackhawks prospects started coming into focus.
Ontario Hockey League
Sarnia and Saginaw have played three times, with the fourth-seeded Sting taking a 2-1 series lead last night after Ludwig Rensfeldt scored the game-winner at 15:51 of overtime, his second tally of the evening. Sarnia won Game 2 4-3, while the Spirit took Game 1 on the back of a two-goal performance by Brandon Saad. Saginaw will host Game 4 on March 28.
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|Two 2010 draft picks will clash in the NCAA Frozen Four on April 5 in Tampa, Fla. Justin Holl (above) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers face Kevin Hayes and top-seeded Boston College, with the winner advancing to the Final against either Ferris State or Union. (Photo by Getty Images)|
Two rounds, three days, four teams left. Six Blackhawks prospects saw NCAA tournament action over the weekend with their college teams, with some head-to-head clashes adding to the playoff intensity.
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|Marian Hossa had most of the net at his mercy when he scored his 900th NHL goal on March 20 at Columbus. (Photo courtesty of Getty Images)|
Marian Hossa's 900th career point came in the form of a power-play goal scored from the middle of the slot at 4:09 of the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nothing fancy required, just good positioning, some help from a teammate—rookie Andrew Shaw, in this case, with an incisive pass from beside the net—and a sure-handed finish. Just an ordinary play for Hossa, but the milestone is anything but.
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As eight Blackhawks prospects see action in the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend, seven more will begin postseason play in the Canadian major junior leagues—two each in the WHL and the QMJHL, and three in the OHL.
Western Hockey League
Mac Carruth of the Portland Winterhawks and Kent Simpson of the Everett Silvertips, two of the Blackhawks' three goaltending prospects in the CHL playoffs this season, have started the bulk of their team’s games, with Carruth playing in 63 of 72 possible games and Simpson appearing in net 60 times.