• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
A very busy Saturday in the hockey-prospect world, as literally hundreds of draft-eligible players took to the ice. No hat tricks or shutouts, but some very strong performances, as more sleepers begin to emerge. You can almost sense the players most determined to maximize their draft years.
The full list of 10 star performances for Saturday includes six major-junior players, one from Europe, and three from the USHL. Did you know that there are more legitimate draft prospects playing in the USHL this season than in any other league? What a great win for USA Hockey.
AIDAN DUDAS -- Dudas scored twice in Owen Sound's 9-2 rout of Windsor. He also had five shots on net and won six of eight faceoffs. His first goal gave the Attack a 3-0 lead -- and stood up as the game-winner -- at 10:31 of the opening period. He later scored to make it 8-1 at 15:46 of the second period. These were his first two goals of the 2017-18 season. In 2016-17, he had eight goals in 56 games, including the only other two-goal game of his OHL career.
SAMUEL ERSSON -- So many talented goalies are playing in Europe this season, and Sweden has its share. Ersson, however, has emerged as one of the hottest, and he was sharp on Saturday. He stopped 30 shots in Gavle's 4-2 Sweden U20 win over Solna AIK to run his winning streak to four games. Overall, he has six wins in eight starts with a 2.00 GAA and .926 save percentage. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
LUCAS FITZPATRICK -- A QMJHL rookie goaltender who plays a backup role for Shawinigan, Fitzptrick got his chance to show his stuff on Saturday, and he delivered. The Nova Scotia native stopped 30 shots to earn No. 2 star honors in the Cataractes' 3-2 loss to Cape Breton. Going for his first QMJHL victory, Fitzpatrick gave up the game-winner at 17:14 of the third period for a hearbreaker of a loss. He has only one other start this season, but has a .910 save percentage in those two games.
COLE FONSTAD -- Fonstad was the No. 2 star in Prince Albert's 6-1 WHL takedown of host Medicine Hat. He finished the night with a goal, two assists, and a plus-2 rating. He picked up the lone assist on the game's first goal, scored on a power play at 14:12 of the opening period. He scored his game-winning goal to make it 2-1 at 2:08 of the second, and assisted on another goal that made it 5-1 midway through the third. Fonstad has eight points in six games, far ahead of last season's pace. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JACHYM KONDELIK -- Kondelik, a left wing from the Czech Republic, is one of the highest-regarded draft prospects in the USHL this season. He was on his game Saturday with a game-winning goal and assist as the No. 1 star of Muskegon's 3-2 win at Des Moines. His goal was dramatic, coming with 2:39 remaining in regulation to break a 2-2 tie. He also assisted on a goal that earlier cut the lead to 2-1 with only 18 seconds left in the second period, setting the stage for the third.
ADAM McCORMICK -- As a defenseman, McCormick isn't the highest of scorers, but he was a big contributor Saturday, helping Cape Breton beat Shawinigan 3-2. He had a goal, an assist and four shots in the victory, and he now has four points in seven games. His goal opened the door for the Screaming Eagles' comeback, pulling them into a 2-2 tie at 19:49 of the second period. His assist came on a power-play goal to open the scoring at 14:07 of the first.
RYAN O'REILLY -- Texas native O'Reilly played well last month in the All-American Prospects Game, and his USHL rookie season is off to a strong start. On Saturday, he scored his first two USHL goals in the Madison Capitols' 4-3 loss to Cedar Rapids. As the game's No. 1 star, he helped the Caps rally for three third-period goals after training 4-0. His first goal, at 8:07 of the third, made it a 4-2 game, and he scored the game's final goal three minutes later at 11:16.
SAMPO RANTA -- The Finnish forward was the No. 2 star of Sioux City's 3-2 overtime win at Fargo on Saturday. Ranta, making his 2017-18 USHL season debut, finished with a goal and an assist, as his goal at 3:24 of overtime was the night's big moment. He also assisted on a power-play goal at 2:34 of the second period to make it 2-0 at the time. It appears the University of Wisconsin has another great recruit in the pipeline.
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV -- What can you say? He's just an amazing scorer. On Saturday, Svechnikov fired home two more goals on nine shots in Barrie's 6-2 win at Saginaw. The No. 2 star, Svechnikov scored the game's first two goals at 0:53 and 11:08 of the opening period. His second goal came on a power play. With eight goals in eight games, he is tied for the OHL lead. The potential No. 1 overall pick has now had three multi-goal performances. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
AKIL THOMAS -- Thomas was the No. 2 star in Niagara's 3-2 shootout win at Hamilton. He had one assist in the game -- on a power-play goal at 9:07 of the second period -- but he saved his best for the shootout, where he was the only player to score. The shootout win capped the IceDogs' comeback from a 2-0 deficit. Thomas now has a six-game OHL point streak with 10 points over the span and is tied for second in the league's scoring race. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)