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Triple Crown - March 2013

The race for top spot among the Triple Crown was tighter than ever in March.

Tuesday, 02.04.2013 / 1:07 PM / Features
By Tyson Giuriato
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Triple Crown - March 2013

The race for top spot among the Triple Crown was tighter than ever in March.

If the month of March ended on the 21st we would be crowning a new prospect at the top of the Triple Crown rankings. But it didn’t. It ended on the 31st, like usual. Brendan Gaunce, feeling the pressure of losing the top spot among the monthly rankings for the first time since November, turned it up a notch and picked up nine points in the last five games of the month to steal the throne from Joe Labate.


1). Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls, OHL

Captain Gaunce has been nothing short of an offensive powerhouse since moving to the wing in early January. Entering the month of March, the Markham, Ontario, native racked up 28 points (14-14-28) in 21 games playing left wing. After going the first three games of the month without grabbing a point and only registering two points in the first five games, it looked like Gaunce would give up the top spot for March’s Triple Crown. Then the six-foot-two forward went on a nine-game point streak picking up 15 points (8-7-15), including nine points (3-6-9) in six playoff games. The Bulls will face the Sudbury Wolves in the second-round of the playoffs after ousting Mississauga in the first-round best-of-seven series 4-2.


2). Joseph Labate, Wisconsin Badgers, NCAA

Labate, the first NCAA prospect to crack the top three of Triple Crown this season, was a force for the Badgers in their magical run to the NCAA Tournament. The six-foot-four forward picked up eight points (4-4-8) in 10 games this month, helping the Badgers win the WCHA Tournament. The most impressive stat is that two of his four goals were to open the scoring, while one was a game-winner. Labate and the Badgers Cinderella-story came to an end in the first round of the NCAA tournament after losing 6-1 to UMass-Lowell. The Eagan, Minnesota, native finished up his sophomore season with 23 points (9-14-23) and 51 penalty-minutes in 41 games.


3). Alex Grenier, Kalamazoo Wings, ECHL

Scoring, playmaking, fighting and kissing babies, Grenier did it all for the Wings in March. The six-foot-four forward posted an impressive 18 points (8-10-18) in 16 games in March, to go along with 44 shots-on-goal and 27 penalty-minutes. It was an interesting season for the Laval, Quebec, native, playing for three teams in two different countries, but once settled in, he was a force for the Wings. Grenier finishes the season with 31 points (10-21-31) in 37 games with Kalamazoo, zero points in one game with the Chicago Wolves and 13 points (5-8-13) in 25 games with Salzburg EC in Austria.


Honourable Mention: Darren Archibald and Bill Sweatt, Chicago Wolves, AHL

Alain Vigneault’s coin was not available for us to flip and decide who would get the honourable mention, so we called it a tie. Sweatt, who has been the most-improved player on the Wolves from the first-half of the season to the second-half, was stellar this past month, racking up nine points (1-8-9) in 14 games. The native of Elburn, Illinois, has registered 29 points (12-17-29) in 56 games this season with Chicago, good enough to earn himself a call-up to the Canucks earlier this week.
Archibald was equally as good, picking up nine points (4-5-9) in 15 games along with a plus-four rating and nine penalty-minutes. After starting the season in the ECHL, the Newmarket, Ontario, native has found a home in Chicago picking up 19 points (10-9-19) in 45 games.

TY-BITS

-Although Frolunda was knocked out of the SEL playoffs, Henrik Tommernes was a force on the backend, not only putting up points but also averaging 23:34 of ice-time per game. Tommernes finished off the regular-season with 16 points in 54 games and posted five points in six post-season games.

-Nicklas Jensen picked up four points in 10 games with the Chicago Wolves in March, which included a sick shootout goal. The native of Denmark earned himself a call-up to the Canucks earlier in the week.

-Kevin Connauton had a steady month, grabbing six points in 14 games along with 30 shots-on-goal. The six-foot-two defenseman scored the game-winner on March 10th against Rockford.

-Frank Corrado is off to the second-round of the OHL playoffs for the second time in his career as his Kitchener Rangers took out the Guelph Storm in five-games and will now face the number-one ranked London Knights. Corrado picked up six points in 13 games this month, including playoffs, while fellow Rangers defenseman and Canucks prospect Evan McEneny also picked up six points in 13 games.

-Speaking of McEneny, the offensive defenseman scored the game-winner for the Rangers in a 5-2 win over Guelph in Game 1.

-It’s been a month of change for some Canucks prospects. Jeremy Price completed his NCAA career and signed an ATO with the Chicago Wolves, where he has appeared in four games, picking up one point. The Canucks also signed their fourth-round pick in 2011, Ludwig Blomstrand, who had been playing with Almtuna in the Allsvenskan (Sweden). Blomstrand reported to the Wolves where he has two penalty-minutes in two games. The Canucks also signed Kellan Lain out of Lake Superior State University and assigned him to the Wolves. The six-foot-six forward has made an impression already in Chicago with his defensive play.

-Adam Polasek doesn’t like March. The six-foot-three defenseman not only picked up two points in eight games, but also picked up 19 penalty-minutes, including a fight, and a suspension for his actions in a brawl between the Wolves and Icehogs.

-The Kalamazoo Wings season has come to an end as they will miss out on the ECHL playoffs. Alex Mallet finishes the season with 29 points in 44 games, while Yann Sauve posted 19 points in 32 games from the backend. Other Canucks prospects with the Wings; Alex Friesen picked up four assists in 10 games, Steven Anthony had 11 points in 41 games and Wes Myron registered 9 points in 17 games.