Prospects battle for CHL glory
Three Vancouver Canucks prospects remain in the CHL playoffs and each is hoping to help lead their team to a championship.
Alex Friesen – Niagara IceDogs (Ontario Hockey League)
The Niagara IceDogs are loaded with high draft picks, in fact they have two players who were drafted in the top 10 of last June’s NHL Entry Draft. But it’s a late round pick of the Vancouver Canucks that’s leading the charge for the IceDogs in their quest for their first Ontario Hockey League Championship in franchise history, and a birth into the Memorial Cup. Canucks prospect Alex Friesen currently sits fourth in OHL playoff scoring with 17 points (6-11-17), and has the IceDogs in a 1-0 series lead over the Ottawa 67s in the OHL Eastern Conference Final.
The Canucks sixth round pick in 2010 had recorded a point in the first ten playoff games, including a three goal, one assist performance in the opening game of the first round against Canucks first round pick Nicklas Jensen, and the Oshawa Generals. Friesen is not only trying to end his junior career on a high note, but also trying to impress Canucks management in hopes of earning a contract with the club.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound centre has been around for all of the five seasons the IceDogs have been located in “The Garden City.” He has played 292 regular season games for the IceDogs and is their all-time leader in assists (153), sits third all-time in goals (91), and third all-time in points (244). Friesen finished the regular season with 71 points (26-45-71) in 62 games, while also amassing 106 minutes in penalties, and a staggering plus-39, tying him for the league lead in plus/minus.
A couple of Canucks drafts picks now find themselves in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record books. Sawyer Hannay, Alexandre Grenier and their Halifax Mooseheads completed the rare series win after falling behind in their second round series with the Quebec Remparts 3-0. The Mooseheads became the fourth team in QMJHL history to pull off the rare comeback and the first team since 2001, when Cape Breton defeated Chicoutimi after trailing the series 3-0.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Grenier was a big factor in the Mooseheads comeback, playing at times on the first line with 16-year-old sensation Nathan Mackinnon. The Laval, Quebec, native registered five points (1-4-5) in the series, and also brought some physical play, dropping the gloves with Remparts captain Mikael Tam in Game 6. Grenier currently sits fourth in team scoring for the playoffs with 12 points (2-10-12) in 12 games; he also sits second on the team in shots with 37.
Hannay, 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, didn’t record a point in the series, but offense is not his game, he plays a physical stay at home defensive style and finished minus-1, while also recording six minutes in penalties, as well as six hits. In 12 playoff games Hannay has yet to record a point, but is plus-1 with 14 penalty minutes.
Due to the amount of high end NHL prospects in this past series, and the fact both teams were located in big cities with large arenas, the series was one of the most hyped QMJHL series in recent time. The average attendance for the seven games was 10,716, and the total attendance for the series was 75,013 breaking a QMJHL record for highest attended series.
The Mooseheads are now taking on the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL Semi-Final; the Mooseheads trail the series 1-0.
News and Notes
The OHL conducts an annual Coaches Poll, which allows the coaches to vote and recognize the top three players in numerous skill sets. The Canucks were represented well this season as Alex Friesen was voted the best on face-offs, the best defensive forward, the best penalty killer, and the third hardest worker.
Defenseman Frank Corrado made his way into three categories, voted as the third most improved player, third best penalty killer, and third best defensive defenseman.
Patrick McNally was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team after a superb rookie season at the University of Harvard. He was also a finalist for the ECAC Rookie of the Year award.
Goaltender Joe Cannata was named to a NCAA second-team All-American and was also named a Hockey East first –team All-Star. After a stint with the Chicago Wolves in which he recorded a win in his only start, Cannata returned to Merrimack College to finish his Business Degree.