The Lake Erie Monsters struggles continue despite reinforcements. The regular season has come to an end in the Canadian Hockey League and three Avs prospects find themselves missing out on the post-season fun. Speaking of the playoffs, conference tournaments are in full swing in the NCAA. It's time for another edition of TWIAP!
It was a light week for the Monsters with just two games, both losses, and both against the Toronto Marlies. Despite the recent returns of defensemen Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie, the defensive struggles for the club still continue. In Wednesday's 2-1 loss, the lack of offense was more to blame. The Monsters were 0-3 with the man advantage and failed to capitalize on their scoring chances.
On Sunday against Toronto, the Monsters managed to rally from a 3-1 deficit, only to see Toronto score late in the contest to sneak away with a 5-3 victory. Lake Erie now finds themselves in 12th place in the Western Conference. Sure, they are only four points out of eighth place and they do have 13 games remaining in the season. Yet, a four game losing streak and a stretch in which the club has only won two out of their last 10 games certainly doesn't bode well for an immediate turn around.
After hosting Toronto on Tuesday, the Monsters will finish the week with a home and home with Grand Rapids. Yet, a much needed boost is on the way. After nearly two years of being on the sidelines, former Avalanche first round pick, Joey Hishon, is expected to make his AHL debut this evening. Hishon's story is well known by now. The surprise pick by Colorado in 2010, suffered a concussion in the 2011 Memorial Cup. Hishon has been skating for weeks and has now received medical clearance to play. Whether fans will see him skating in a Colorado sweater in the future is unclear. Just seeing him return to game action is an important step; nothing else matters at this point.
North of the border, the regular season has concluded in the Canadian Hockey League. Joseph Blandisi had to know the idea of Ottawa making the playoffs was slim when he was dealt to the club earlier in the year. Yet, I'm sure he didn't anticipate a last place finish. The 67's did in fact end the regular season with the worst record in the league. Blandisi certainly can't be faulted for his effort; he averaged a point per game since joining the 67's in January.
The Peterborough Petes just missed out on securing a playoff spot in the Ontario Hockey League's Eastern Conference. The club was edged out by a point by Mississauga. Michael Clarke ended the regular season with a goal in the Petes finale against Brampton on Sunday; a 5-2 loss. Overall, he had 15 goals and 17 assists between Windsor and Peterborough this season.
The Plymouth Whalers cruised into the post-season on a eight game winning streak. They'll face The Sarnia Sting in the opening round of the OHL playoffs. Both Garrett Meurs and Mitch Heard are contributing well offensively for the high flying Whalers. Heard averaged more than a point per game since being sent down to Plymouth in early January. In a Wednesday tilt against Sault Ste. Marie last week, Heard recorded a hat trick. On Saturday against Windsor, he was the overtime hero.
Garrett Meurs had a fine regular season for Plymouth, compiling 32 goals and 33 assists in 68 games. A 12 point improvement from last year, in just one more game. The series against Sarnia starts on Friday in Plymouth.
In the Western Hockey League, the Prince George Cougars missed out on the post-season; finishing the year on a five game losing skid. Troy Bourke ended up with 15 goals and 35 assists in 63 games for Prince George; which was second in team scoring.
The team Prince George ended the season against, the Kamloops Blazers, finished third in the Western Conference. Colin Smith ended up leading the Blazers in scoring with 41 goals and 65 assists in 72 games. He was fifth in league scoring. Smith and Blazers will face Victoria in the opening round of the WHL playoffs.
The Memorial Cup host, Saskatoon Blades, had an interesting second half to their season, which included an 18-game winning streak. Their playoffs will begin with a matchup against the Medicine Hat Tigers. For Duncan Siemens, the regular season saw him with three goals and 29 assists in 70 games; with a plus 31 rating to boot.
Conference tournaments are in full swing in college hockey. In the CCHA, Michigan swept Western Michigan in the quarterfinals. Luke Moffatt had three assists in the series against the Broncos.
Yale had an easy time eliminating St. Lawrence in two games over the weekend. The Bulldogs held the Saints to 13 and 17 shots respectively on Friday and Saturday. Defensemen Gus Young had an assist in Friday's game. Up next for Yale is Union in the conference semifinals.
Minnesota heads to the WCHA Final Five, after a two game sweep of Bemidji State. The upcoming regional final will be the last for the Gophers as the club will move to the Big Ten Conference next year (Michigan will make a similar move to the Big Ten Conference). Junior forward, Nate Condon, scored his 12th goal of the season in the series. Minnesota will face the North Dakota/ Colorado College winner on Friday in one of the two WCHA conference semifinal games.
In the next edition, an update on the Monsters and Joey Hishon's debut. A check-in on the OHL and WHL playoffs. Finally, a look at the bracket for the 16-team tournament field in college hockey. Talk to you soon!