SABRES PROSPECTS REPORT
Mikhail Grigorenko (2012, first round) made a triumphant return to the QMJHL Sunday, dictating the game’s offensive pace with a goal and three assists as Quebec closed the regular season with a 5-3 victory over Rimouski. The win locks the Remparts into fifth place in the final QMJHL standings, setting up a first-round playoff series against Chicoutimi.
Cheered loudly by the Quebec City faithful upon taking the ice, Grigorenko wasted little time getting on the score sheet with a pair of helpers in the opening period. The creative Russian resumed his production in the third, setting up the game winning goal with a slick backhand pass from behind the net before capping the scoring with a wrist shot for his team-leading 30th goal of the year.
With their dangerous distributor back in the fold, Quebec immediately becomes a legitimate contender in the QMJHL playoffs.
Dan Catenacci (2011, third round) added two goals and an assist to his season haul Thursday as Owen Sound hammered Windsor 6-0. The speedy centerman, who was given a rest as the Attack capped the regular season on Saturday, finishes with a team-best 38 goals and 79 points in 67 games. The third-seeded Attack begins the playoffs Thursday when they host Sault Ste. Marie.
Justin Kea (2012, third round) was unable to score as Saginaw wrapped up the regular season schedule with a 3-2 overtime loss to London. The power forward prospect, who earlier in the week was voted third-best on faceoffs in the Western Conference coaches poll, ends the year with 22 goals and 48 points while centering Saginaw’s second line. The Spirit opens the best-of-seven playoff round on Friday at top-seeded London.
Brady Austin (2012, seventh round) scored a goal and an assist in the week’s two games to help Belleville finish the season with a five-game winning streak. The big, mobile defender gathered 23 points (8+15) and a plus-16 rating in 64 games as part of a stingy Bulls defense that allowed the fewest goals in the league. The top seed in the Eastern Conference, Belleville begins their championship chase Friday versus Mississauga.
Alex Lepkowski (2011, fifth round) picked up an assist Saturday as Barrie closed the regular season with a 3-2 win over Niagara. The West Seneca, NY native posted nine assists, a plus-10 rating, and 78 PIM in 60 games this season. The Colts face Mississauga in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal starting Thursday.
Logan Nelson (2012, fifth round) scored the game-tying goal with under three minutes to play, and then set up the overtime winner as Victoria completed the regular season Saturday with a 4-3 victory over Everett. Nelson enters the Royals’ playoff series versus Kamloops with the momentum of six goals and 11 points in his final 10 games.
Saskatoon goaltender Andrey Makarov made 39 saves Tuesday to guide the Blades to a 3-2 shootout victory over Edmonton. The 6-foot-1 backstop posted a 37-17-2-3 record, 2.62 GAA, and .919 save% en route to guiding the Blades to the East Division title and a second-place conference finish. The Blades begin the post-season at home on Thursday versus Medicine Hat.
Colin Jacobs (2011, fourth round) saw his season come to an end Saturday as Prince George was throttled by Kamloops 7-0. Prior to the contest, the gritty 6-foot-2 forward was named the Cougars’ Player of the Year after setting personal bests with 25 goals and 53 points in 66 games. The Cougars finish the season ninth in the Western Conference standings, seven points shy of the final post-season spot.
Christian Isackson (2010, seventh round) assisted on the overtime game winner as Minnesota opened the WCHA playoffs with a 4-3 win over Bemidji State on Friday. The sophomore winger gathered a faceoff win and kicked the puck back to the point, where the shot was deflected to a waiting Kyle Rau for the finish. Isackson remained among the top-line forwards Saturday as the Gophers closed out the Beavers with a 4-3 victory. The Gophers move on to the WCHA Final Five where they’ll play in a Friday night semifinal against the winner of North Dakota/Colorado College.
In Saturday action, Jake McCabe (2012, second round) left the game in the second period and did not return as Wisconsin knocked off Minnesota-Duluth 4-1 to sweep the first round series and advance to the Final Five. McCabe, who earlier in the week was named to the All-WCHA Third Team, assisted on an empty-net goal the night before in the Badgers’ 3-1 victory. Brad Navin maintained his checking line role for the Badgers, who next travel to St. Paul, Minn. on Thursday for a semifinal battle with Minnesota State.
Linus Ullmark (2012, sixth round) made 25 saves Tuesday as MODO J20 opened their best-of-three playoff series versus Brynas IF with a 2-1 overtime victory. On Saturday, Ullmark returned to the SEL squad to serve as backup as MODO was put on the brink of elimination with a 2-1 loss to Farjestads BK. MODO trails the series 3-0 entering Monday's game four.
In Finland, Joel Armia (2011, first round) sat out Tuesday’s season finale with a fever as Assat Pori defeated TPS Turku 2-1 to finish in fourth place in the SM-Liiga standings. Armia ends the regular season with a career-best 19 goals and 33 points for the Aces, whose late season surge included wins in 15 of their last 16 games. Assat begins the playoffs Wednesday at home versus KalPa.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.