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Badgers down, but not out

Cody Goloubef and the Wisconsin Badgers are ranked low, but hold home ice advantage. (Photo by David Stluka/Getty Images)

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Cody Goloubef and the Wisconsin Badgers are ranked low, but hold home ice advantage. (Photo by David Stluka/Getty Images)

Playoffs are in full swing for all the junior and college leagues now, so let’s see who is scoring when it counts.

1. Steven Stamkos, C – Sarnia Sting (OHL): The consensus No. 1 overall draft pick is giving the Sting goals when needed, even shorthanded; Stamkos had five tallies in the first three playoff games against Windsor. Draft-eligible in 2008.

2. Alex Pietrangelo, D – Niagara IceDogs (OHL):
The Dogs are drilling the Majors in Round 1 and Pietrangelo has been huge, tying Jackets prospect Stefan Legein for the team lead in scoring with six points in three games. Draft-eligible in 2008.

3. Cody Goloubef, D – Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA):
While many of this week's Hot Listers had an easy route to the playoffs, standout freshman defenseman Goloubef and his fellow Badgers had to simply hold their breaths and pray. An early exit from the WCHA playoffs will do that, so there were a lot of crossed fingers when the Frozen Four brackets were announced.

“After we lost to St. Cloud, we knew there was still hope,” Goloubef said. “We still practiced and Sunday morning we all got together to watch the announcement on TV. When we heard we were in, we practiced that night as well and we've been getting ready ever since.”

Despite being the No. 3 seed in the Midwest regional, the Badgers will get to play their opening match at home at the Kohl Center, a fortuitous stroke of luck not lost on them.

“It's going to be an unbelievable advantage,” Goloubef noted. “Our fans are ridiculous – it's going to be like having a sixth skater on the ice.”

You would think the powerhouse Badgers would have fought for a WCHA title this year, considering the squad boasts Goloubef and NHL draft picks such as Kyle Turris (Phoenix), Jamie McBain (Carolina), Ryan McDonagh (Montreal) and Goloubef's roommate, Brendan Smith (Detroit), but it was not to be. Wisconsin struggled to a .500 record, which Goloubef said will help the team going forward.

“I think it builds character,” he said. “You learn from your mistakes.”

Goloubef, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, models his game after Maple Leaf defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

“I like the poise and confidence he has carrying the puck up the ice,” he said. “He's so calm, never rushing, always has his head up – nobody ever seems to get the puck off him.”

That is something Goloubef hopes becomes the word about him, as well. Draft eligible in 2008.

4. Bryce Swan, RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL):
Swan sits atop the ‘Q’ scoreboard with seven points in two games, using that big, 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame off the wing. Think Ducks GM Brian Burke likes those numbers? Drafted 38th overall by Anaheim in 2006.

5. Claude Giroux, RW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Right up there with Swan is Giroux, who also has seven points through two contests, but Giroux is doing it with assists (five). Giroux will bring a different skill set to the brawny Flyers – how about a new French Connection with Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne? Drafted 22nd overall by Philadelphia in 2006.

6. Alex Kangas, G – Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA):
The Gophers may have lost the conference final to Denver, but Kangas was a big reason they even got there in the first place. In six playoff games (four of which went into at least one overtime period), Kangas never gave up more than two goals. Drafted 135th overall by Atlanta in 2006.

7. Chet Pickard, G – Tri-City Americans (WHL):
Two games, two wins, just two goals against. Pickard has the inside track on being the No. 1 goalie drafted this year and his size (6-foot-3) and stats will help that. Draft-eligible in 2008.

8. Matt Halischuk, RW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL):
Halischuk is putting up impressive playoff scoring totals early on, with eight points in three games. Drafted 117th overall by New Jersey in 2007.

9. Billy Sauer, G – Michigan Wolverines (CCHA): Once again it was a showdown between Miami and Michigan and once again it was Billy Sauer’s boys who came out on top. The Wolverines head into the Frozen Four as the No. 1 seed and Sauer played some serious net in the final. Drafted 201st overall by Colorado in 2006.

10. Tomi Sallinen, C – Espoo Blues (Fin.):
Sallinen notched five points in 29 games with the big squad this year and made enough of an impression to skate with the top team in the playoffs as well. Draft-eligible in 2008.

11. Kristoffer Berglund, D – Bjorkloven (Swe. 1):
Berglund played the set-up man for Bjorkloven this year, tallying 21 assists to go with four goals in 42 games for the big club. At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he’s not big, but he can certainly move the puck. Draft-eligible in 2008.

12. Michal Repik, LW ¬– Vancouver Giants (WHL):
Repik is off to a quick start in the WHL playoffs, with five points in his first two games. The Panthers will definitely be watching his progress in the post-season. Drafted 40th overall by Florida in 2007.

13. Justin Dowling, C – Swift Current Broncos (WHL): A late birthday, Dowling has gotten off to an early start in the post-season, notching three goals in two games for the Broncos after a pedestrian rookie regular season. Draft-eligible in 2009.

14. Corey Trivino, LW – Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL):
Stouffville got dusted by Aurora in the second round of the post-season, but you can’t blame Trivino; he rang up a fantastic 22 points in 15 playoff games. Boston University is his next stop. Draft-eligible in 2008.

15. John Carlson, D – Indiana Ice (USHL):
Carlson finished up his USHL campaign as the league's third-highest scoring defenseman, with 37 points in 53 games to go with a plus-13 rating. UMass is next for him. Draft-eligible in 2008.

The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re exciting to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.

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