Even though the Maple Leafs season is officially over, it doesn’t mean that there’s no playoff hockey here in Toronto. The Marlies just started their Round 1 series of the AHL playoffs last night against the #1 ranked Manitoba Moose.
The Baby Leafs went into a hostile MTS centre and stole Game 1 on the road, 3-2 in overtime against the league champions behind a brilliant 37 save performance from Justin Pogge. The overtime winner was scored by Bates Battaglia earning him first star honors while Justin received the game’s second star. Prospects Kyle Rogers, signed as an NCAA free agent last season, and Alex Foster both chipped in a goal apiece. Tough guy Andre Deveaux also contributed 2 assists. Stalberg did not dress for this game but is expected to be in the lineup sometime soon.
Folks, if you get the chance, head on down to Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday at 4pm EST to support the Marlies. Last night’s game was fantastic and Justin Pogge was absolutely brilliant. If you want to get a chance to see some the kids of tomorrow firsthand (at a great price), enjoy a great atmosphere and witness some playoff intensity, this is your chance. $38 platinum seats don’t hurt either. Everyone says that Toronto is not a Hockey haven, it’s an NHL Hockey haven. Well, let’s prove ’em wrong. Game 2 gets underway Friday night in Manitoba at 8:30 pm EST with coverage on Leafs TV. Let’s go Marlies!
Elsewhere, a trio of Maple Leaf prospects are turning in HUGE performances for their respective junior clubs during their playoff run.
Over in the QMJHL, Christopher Didomenico of the top ranked Drummondville squad has scored an astounding 25 points (22 of which are assists) in only 8 games played to tie him for 2nd in the league playoff scoring race. The Voltigeurs have completely steamrolled their opponents thus far, breezing through the first 2 rounds with an 8-0 record. In fact, the 4 playoff scoring leaders right now are all Drummondville players. They will now face #7 ranked Rimouski in the next round.
As for Mikhail Stefanovich and the Quebec Remparts, they’ve had a much tougher road to get to the Semi-Finals, barely edging out Cape Breton in a 7 game series. Mikhail has been his usual dynamic self, potting 9 goals in just 12 games played, making him the highest goal scoring non-Drummondville player of the playoffs. The Remparts will match up against #5 ranked Shawnigan with hopes of moving on to perhaps face Drummondville in the league Finals.
In the OHL, it should be no surprise that the powerhouse Windsor Spitfires are mowing down their opposition, posting an 8-2 record through the first two rounds. But what IS a pleasant surprise has been the playoff of Leaf prospect Dale Mitchell, who as you may recall, turned in a fantastic playoff performance last year as well for the Oshawa Generals. Dale’s 21 points in 11 games played ties him for 2nd in playoff scoring in the league, behind only teammate and projected 2010 1st overall pick, Taylor Hall. Yes, ahead of Tavares, Hodgson, Duchene and the rest of that crowd for the time being. His 11 goals during that 11 game span makes him the league’s top playoff goal scorer to date. Huge stats from the little guy. The Spitfires are in tough this round, matching up against John Tavares and the London Knights, whom they barely squeaked past in overtime last night with a 4-3 win.
All three of these prospects have turned in magnificent performances for their clubs so far, and figure to be in for a very long playoff drive. Should that drive be cut short however, expect all 3 to perhaps join the Marlies at some point to bolster their run as well.
So don’t forget folks. There’s playoff hockey just a few minutes away from the ACC on Sunday afternoon and your $38 platinum seats are waiting for you. Hope to see you there!
Always a pleasure,