With exhibition schedules winding down in the North American junior ranks, regular season play got underway in Europe over the weekend with a pair of Buffalo Sabres prospects taking part.
Finnish wing Joel Armia began his 2012-13 campaign with a bang Friday, ringing up two goals and an assist to lead Assat to a 3-0 shutout of Lukko. Armia buried a backhand to get the Aces on the board midway through the second period before striking again with a rising wrist shot nine minutes later to secure the win. A season ago, Armia needed 15 games to get his second regular season goal.
On Saturday, Armia completed a four-point weekend with an assist in the Aces’ 3-0 blanking of TPS. The quick start gives the 2011 first-rounder plenty of momentum heading into Assat’s Wednesday matchup at winless Karpat.
In Sweden, Linus Ullmark (2012, sixth round) experienced different results as MODO J20 opened their SuperElit schedule with a pair of weekend defeats. Ullmark made 26 saves Saturday as MODO dropped a 3-2 decision to Brynas. The 6-foot-3 netminder returned to the crease Sunday, making 15 stops while allowing two third-period goals in a 2-1 loss to Vasteras. MODO J20 returns to action Friday versus Mora.
In preseason play, Judd Peterson (2012, seventh round) posted a hat trick Friday but it wasn’t enough as Cedar Rapids was edged by Waterloo 5-4. Taylor Cammarata, who will skate in Buffalo on September 29 in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, paced the winners with two goals and an assist. The clubs will next travel to Sioux City, Iowa in the coming week for the 2012 USHL Fall Classic, a four-day showcase where all 16 member clubs play a three-game slate to close the exhibition schedule.
In the WHL, Logan Nelson (2012, fifth round) scored his first goal of the preseason as Victoria doubled Vancouver 4-2. The 6-foot-1 forward calmly lifted a backhand from the edge of the crease to tie the game 2-2 late in the opening frame. Next up for the Royals is Friday’s regular season opener at Vancouver.
Saskatoon backstop Andrey Makarov saw action in both ends of a home-and-home series with Regina over the weekend. On Friday, the newly-signed Russian stopped all 13 shots he faced in a half-game’s worth of work as the Blades edged the Pats 2-1. Makarov played the entire way the following night, making 17 saves in a 4-3 loss. The Blades’ reigning MVP, Makarov is expected to get the start this Friday when the Blades push-off at Prince Albert.
Colin Jacobs posted an assist as Prince George suffered a 4-3 shootout defeat at Kamloops. The 6-foot-2 center finishes the preseason with three points (2+1) in four contests. The Cougars open the season Saturday at Everett.
In the OHL, Justin Kea (2012, third round) ramped up with a goal as Saginaw completed the preseason with a 5-2 win over Sault Ste. Marie. Kea, who scored just three times in 65 games last season, rang a shot under the cross bar as the Spirit went on a three-goal assault in the final minute of the middle period. The Spirit are idle until Friday’s opener at Guelph.
Alex Lepkowski (2011, fifth round) skated without a point as Barrie downed Guelph, 4-2. The 6-foot-4 defender finished the exhibition skates with goal and an assist for the Colts, who kick off the season Thursday versus Ottawa.
Brady Austin (2012, seventh round) wore an “A” Friday in Belleville’s 5-4 win over Oshawa. The Bulls will next travel to Sarnia for Friday’s season opener.
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