With regular season schedules winding down, Buffalo Sabres prospects on two continents were busy posing productive weeks with post-season play just around the corner.
Brady Austin (2012, seventh round) added two goals to his season resume as Belleville won two of three outings to maintain a share of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Austin’s wrist-shot tally just 17 seconds into Saturday’s loss to Barrie gives the mobile rearguard seven goals on the year, eclipsing his previous personal best of six set a season ago.
Dan Catenacci (2011, third round) snapped a four-game scoring drought over the weekend with goals in back-to-back games as Owen Sound swept a weekend set with Erie. The quick-handed centerman leads the Attack with 36 goals and 75 points with three games left to play. Owen Sound holds down the third position in the Western Conference, needing a win or an overtime point in the final three contests to lock up the third playoff seed.
Justin Kea (2012, third round) scored his 22nd goal of the season Sunday as Saginaw was dealt a 7-5 loss at Plymouth. The big-bodied forward, who on Friday earned an assist as the Spirit clinched the final Western Conference playoff spot in a win at Guelph, enters the final week of play with 48 points and an even 100 penalty minutes.
Barrie defenseman Alex Lepkowski (2011, fifth round) was a cumulative plus-one in the week’s three games as the Colts pushed their winning streak to six to jump back into a tie with Belleville for first place in the Eastern Conference standings. The steady lefty will look for his first goal of the season this week as the Colts close the regular season with their final three contests.
Colin Jacobs (2011, fourth round) gathered two goals, four assists, and a shootout winner as Prince George won three of the week’s five contests to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff chase. Jacobs’ productive week ups his totals to 24 goals and 51 points for the Cougars, who remain four points behind Everett for the final playoff with four games left to play.
Andrey Makarov made 41 saves Friday as Saskatoon doubled Medicine Hat 6-3. The Russian workhorse enters the final week of the regular season with a league-best 36 wins, including 20 in his last 25 starts. The East Division champion Blades finish the regular season with three road games before kicking off the playoffs at home on March 21.
Logan Nelson (2012, fifth round) snapped home his 13th goal of the season Sunday as Victoria was bested by Portland 5-2. The Rogers, Minn., native has amassed 41 points in 46 games this season, including five goals in his last seven. The Royals, who have locked up the sixth seed in the Western Conference, head into the final week of play having won just once in their last 14 outings.
Jake McCabe (2012, second round) notched a pair of assists Saturday as Wisconsin closed the WCHA regular season schedule with a 3-2 win over St. Cloud State. The double helping gives the sophomore 17 points (3+14) in 32 appearances. Brad Navin (2011, seventh round) recorded a minor penalty in checking line duty for the Badgers, who enjoy home ice advantage next weekend in the first round of the playoffs versus Minnesota-Duluth.
Sophomore forward Christian Isackson (2010, seventh round) ended his 15-game goal drought Saturday with a mark at the final buzzer as second-ranked Minnesota earned a share of the WCHA regular season title with a 5-1 victory at Bemidji State. Isackson, who also picked up an assist for the second-straight night, enters the conference playoffs with four goals and 19 points. The Gophers will host a rematch with the Beavers in the first round beginning Friday.
Joel Armia burst to the net to score the game-winning goal Thursday as Assat Pori earned their 14th-straight victory 3-2 over JYP. The third-period strike, Armia’s 100th career SM-liiga point, gives the big winger 19 goals on the year, setting a new personal best after totaling 18 in each of his first two professional seasons. On Saturday, Armia was blanked in 19:40 of work as Assat’s hot streak came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Karpat. With a quarterfinal playoff spot reserved, the fourth-place Aces will play their final regular season tune-up Tuesday at TPS Turku.
In Sweden, Linus Ullmark (2012, sixth round) returned to the SuperElit ranks Saturday, stopping all 30 shots he faced to steer MODO J20 to a 2-0 win over Timra IK. Ullmark has been outstanding when tabbed for SuperElit Top 10 duty, winning all seven of his starts, including a pair of shutouts, while amassing a 1.28 GAA and .953 save%. The 6-foot-3 netminder will re-join MODO’s top club for the start of their quarterfinal playoff round with Färjestads BK on Tuesday.
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