• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
The biggest games on Thursday were the World Junior A Challenge semifinals in Truro, Nova Scotia. In the opener Team USA dominated the Russian team that was heavily hyped here earlier this week. The talented Russians were the field's youngest team, and it showed. With a 5-0 shutout, Team USA reached Saturday's title game against Canada West, who rolled over the Czechs 5-1 on Thursday. The final showdown on Saturday at 2 p.m. should be exciting.
Outside of the World Junior A, there were not enough games on Thursday for a full list of 10 top performances, but the cut for the top five was a high bar. Several players in the Minnesota high school ranks were candidates, but only one made the cut. There were also some OHL candidates who might have made it on another night, but missed out this time.
The final list is American-heavy with three U.S. players, one Canadian, and a Russian sensation who could be drafted No. 1 overall. Get to know them below:
AIDAN DUDAS -- It's tough to see Dudas making this list so often, because there's no guarantee he'll be drafted. The high-scoring Owen Sound center is only a hair over 5-foot-7, which could spell doom on draft day. On Thursday, Dudas had a goal, two assists, and went 14-for-25 on face-offs in the Attack's 6-4 loss at Barrie. He started the point parade by assisting on a goal at 7:15 of the second period that cut the Colts' lead to 2-1. At 12:55, he set up a power-play goal to tie the game 3-3. In the third, he scored a power-play goal of his own to give the Attack a 4-3 lead at 4:02. Dudas now has 16 goals and 36 points -- tied for 19th in the OHL scoring race. He also has five points in his last two games. (Note: Eighth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
BEN HELGESON -- There were several good performances in Minnesota high school hockey on Thursday, but none better than Ben Helgeson's hat trick in Hill-Murray's 7-1 rout at South St. Paul. Helgeson, a Wisconsin recruit, scored the eventual game-winner on a power play at 10:05 of the second period to give his team a 2-0 lead. He connected again on a power play at 2:19 of the third to make it 4-1, and capped off the hat trick with the game's final goal at 11:13. Helgeson now has points in all five games he has played this season for a total of seven.
JAKE KUCHARSKI -- Kucharski was one of Thursday's Team USA heroes. He stopped all 21 shots for a 5-0 shutout and will likely be the starter for Saturday's championship game. Kucharski made five saves in the first period, nine in the second, and seven in the third. This tournament has meant a lot to Kucharski's season and will probably lift his draft position. Through two games, he has stopped 48 of 49 shots for a .980 save percentage. (Note: Fifth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
BLAKE PIETILA -- Another American goaltender who has been on fire of late, Pietila made 30 saves in Cedar Rapids' 2-1 OT shootout loss at Youngstown on Thursday. The Michigan Tech recruit, who made 13 stops in the first period, lost his shutout at 11:28 of the third. He is 2-0-1 in his last three USHL starts, stopping a remarkable 87 of 89 shots. In a draft deep in goalies, Pietila looks like a definite later-round pick in June. (Note: Fifth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV -- After missing nearly two months with a broken hand, Svechnikov is back in the saddle with Barrie. On Thursday, he reminded the scouts just how special he is with his second hat trick of the OHL season in the Colts' 6-4 win over Owen Sound. The sensational Russian winger scored his three goals on five shots. He began with a power-play tally at 10:37 of the first period for a 1-1 tie. He saved his best for the final period, scoring the game-winner to break a 4-4 tie at 12:54, and adding an empty-netter to close the scoring at 18:52. Svechnikov is now averaging a goal-per-game with 14 in 14. He is also on a three-game scoring streak in which he has averaged two points per game and has six points in four games since his return from injury. (Note: Sixth appearance on this list in 2017-18)