Rimouski clinches second spot in the Memorial Cup field

Rimouski's Samuel Morin (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

One of the most vexing problems regarding the Memorial Cup is that the host teams haven’t been earning their spots lately. London, Shawinigan and Saskatoon all “backed in” to the CHL classic after bombing out early in their respective league playoffs.

So here’s a shout-out to the Quebec League, which already has its two bids sewn up this year thanks to a couple of elite teams who did what they were supposed to do.

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Prospect Hot List: Jack Eichel suiting up for Team USA again

Jack Eichel

Once again, Team USA has won the world under-18s thanks to a roster made up almost entirely of NTDP kids. Though one interesting takeaway from the tourney was goaltending. The Americans went with underager Evan Sarthou of WHL Tri-City, while Canada had a tandem of underagers in Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko and Saginaw’s Evan Cormier. Sure, 2015 looks like a thin goalie draft, but this was a pretty interesting trend. With that point behind us, let’s look at some of the other prospects making noise in the hockey world right now.

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Connor McDavid continues to tear up OHL playoffs, scores one-handed short handed breakaway goal

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Through the first two rounds of the OHL post-season, Connor McDavid was playing like a man possessed. In nine games, the 18-year-old phenom had tallied nine goals, 17 points and was the OHL’s playoff scoring leader by a decent margin. In the third round, however, McDavid has taken his game to new heights.

To open Erie’s Western Conference final against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, McDavid notched a hat trick. He followed that up with a two-goal, four-point performance in Game 2. In Game 3, it wasn’t so much about the quantity of points McDavid posted, but rather the quality of the plays that led to him finding the back of the net.

Shorthanded in the first frame, McDavid corralled a loose puck at the red line and skated in alone from the neutral zone. After a series of head and shoulder fakes, McDavid pulled Greyhounds goaltender Brandon Halverson far enough out of position to reach around him with a one-handed move that will be on McDavid’s highlight reel come draft day: Read more

Detroit company finds success with game-used stick phone cases

Original Stix

By Warren Frank

Detroit-based company Original Stix appears to have found an extremely interested market for its game-used composite sticks phone cases.

The idea to turn old sticks into hockey-themed phone cases came from CEO Terry Johnson. He’s always been inspired by creative repurposing, but it was an experience during his time at Michigan State that was particularly influential.

“One of my friends built a table out of old sticks,” Johnson said. “I always thought it was interesting to repurpose something designed for an entirely different reason, and it got me thinking about other products built with authentic materials.”

 

Original Stix case

After graduating, Johnson teamed up with two friends and fellow Michigan State alumni, Mario DiMercurio and Andrew Mestdagh, to found the company. The company’s first product, an iPhone 5 case, was launched in August, and its positive reception has led to the addition of Galaxy s5 cases, iPhone 6 cases and an apparel line. All Original Stix products are made in the U.S. – a point of pride for the business.

“The rubber cases are made using local injection molding facilities,” Johnson said. “The sticks are cut by hand, and then the inside is coated with a rubberized coating for added protection. When an order comes through, customers can request specific sticks so we match the sticks with the rubber frame and build to order.

“Everything is done right here in Detroit. The area has been going through some tough times in recent years, so creating jobs and bringing manufacturing back to the area is something that our fans have really gotten behind, regardless of what team they follow.”

And it’s not just fans interested in Original Stix products: the company recently completed a custom order for the New York Rangers, with cases featuring game-used sticks now sold at Madison Square Garden. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who went to high school with Johnson and DiMercurio, has been to the Original Stix headquarters a number of times.

While Original Stix is looking to add additional teams, customers can currently choose stick pieces from more than 50 squads from the NHL, AHL, NCAA and OHL. The sticks can be swapped out without having to buy a new case.

“We’ve had a lot of customers who have sticks autographed by NHL players,” Johnson said. “We love seeing stuff like that. It’s like a portable piece of memorabilia as opposed to an autographed photo that just hangs on the wall.”

Original Stix display

Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse ready for OHL playoff showdown

Ryan Kennedy
Darnell Nurse (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Erie Otters and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have been on a collision course all season long in the Ontario League; they were certainly the favorites to meet in the Western Conference final and sure enough, the showdown is now upon us.

But thanks to the luck of the lottery balls, the series has one more subplot added into the mix: top Edmonton Oilers defense prospect Darnell Nurse will now be tasked with shutting down his potential teammate in the NHL next year – Connor McDavid.

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Prospect Hot List: Foley will keep Friars flying

Cedar Rapids winger Erik Foley (photo by Brandon Anderson/BA Photos)

While I try to reserve this space for players up for this year’s draft or ones who have already been picked, there’s a treasure trove of 2016s at the world under-18s right now. Auston Matthews just broke Patrick Kane’s U.S. NTDP scoring record, while Finland is getting a huge performance from Patrik Laine (Jesse Puljujarvi’s playing pretty well, too). And Dmitri Sokolov of Russia is already on the minds of NHL scouts. With that established, let’s take a look at some of the other great youngsters in the game today.

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Goodbye Hamilton Bulldogs. Hello…Hamilton Bulldogs

The Hockey News
Hamilton Bulldogs (Brandon Taylor / Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club)

By DENIS GIBBONS

So, now they come?!

Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer was probably trying to figure that one out when more than 10,000 fans paid to see an AHL game in Hamilton, Ont., Saturday night.

The sad news is the Bulldogs’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Lake Erie Monsters was their farewell to the steel city. The franchise will relocate to St. John’s, Nfld., until a new arena is ready in Laval, a suburb of Montreal.

 

Hamilton Bulldogs say goodbye (Shea Berencsi/THN)

Hamilton Bulldogs say goodbye (Shea Berencsi/THN)

 

Mid-week games at Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre sometimes attracted fewer than 2,000 fans.

The Bulldogs name will live on, however, with the arrival of a new OHL franchise for the 2015-16 season. The Belleville Bulls sold their franchise to Andlauer after the City of Belleville refused to make improvements to the tiny arena there. Read more