With the season winding down, more and more Maple Leafs prospects are having their seasons come to an end.
The Marlies are still playing, though. G Ian Scott and D Riley McCourt are also playing on loan with ECHL Wichita. F Mikhail Abramov, F Pontus Holmberg, and F Joe Miller are playing playoff games with their club teams. F Filip Hallander is still with the Swedish national team. Aside from that group, everyone else’s season is over.
With that being said, there is still some interesting news to cover. Let’s get right into it!
Pontus Holmberg Impressing in SHL Finals
It seems like Pontus Holmberg has been a major talking point in every one of these prospect recaps ever since I started writing there here at MLHS. He just keeps giving me reasons to write about him.
His run in the SHL playoffs has been that impressive. This week has been no different.
On Monday, Holmberg and the Vaxjo Lakers played game two against Rogle BK. They came into the game with a 1-0 series lead.
Rogle jumped out to a 2-1 lead after two periods. Early in the third, though, Holmberg changed that, as he tied the hockey game and started the comeback with a goal off of the rush:
This is not a recording. Pontus Holmberg has scored AGAIN!
9 points for him so far in the #SHL playoffs. This is his 11th game. #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/xbfGIjDxD0
— Josh Simpson (@joshsimpson77) May 3, 2021
It was a stoppable shot — one the goalie should have had — but as they say, they don’t ask how, only how many. The goal was Holmberg’s fourth of the playoffs and his ninth point in his 11th game. Vaxjo went on to win the game in overtime, with former Nashville Predators draft pick D Hardy Haman Aktell ending the game in the fourth frame.
Game 3 didn’t go as well for the Lakers. They lost 5-1 and saw their series lead cut in half, but Holmberg still found the scoresheet, picking up a secondary assist on Vaxjo’s only goal:
Sylvegård undviker att bli tacklad av Lesund, åker upp i offensiv zon och snärtar upp pucken i krysset!
3-1 och @VLHlive är med i matchen. pic.twitter.com/PgSkPB4320
— C More Sport (@cmoresport) May 6, 2021
In Game 4 on Saturday, with Vaxjo now leading the series 2-1, Rogle got out to a 2-1 lead after two periods, but once again, they were unable to hold on for the win.
Richard Gynge scored for Vaxjo early in the third, tying the game at two apiece. The teams needed overtime once more to find a winner, and you’ll never guess who emerged as the hero early in overtime:
Pontus Holmberg has done it again!!!! The #LeafsForever prospect scores in overtime to give Vaxjo a 3-1 series lead in the #SHL Finals!
5th goal and 11th point of the playoffs. He’s played 13 games. pic.twitter.com/wmkuOfF2Al
— Josh Simpson (@joshsimpson77) May 8, 2021
It was Holmberg’s fifth goal — and 11th point — of the SHL playoffs that won the game for Vaxjo, giving them a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is on tap for Monday afternoon.
Holmberg’s run has been so impressive that, should the Lakers hold on and win the series, he could be in the running for the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy, awarded after the finals to the most valuable player in the SHL playoffs. Holmberg currently leads the league in playoff points and is tied for second in playoff goals, so he’ll certainly be in the discussion.
What a run it has been for the sixth-round draft pick…
Joe Miller advances to Clark Cup
2020 sixth-rounder Joe Miller and the USHL’ Chicago Steel are off to the Clark Cup Finals after a 2-0 sweep over the Muskegon Lumberjacks. This will be the Steel’s third finals trip in the last four seasons.
Chicago has yet to lose a playoff game. They swept the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the first round, giving them 12 straight wins dating back to the regular season.
There’s really not much to report with regards to Miller. The Leafs‘ prospect hasn’t recorded a point yet through four playoff games. He’s buried on the depth chart, playing on an absolutely stacked Chicago team.
He and his team will take on the Fargo Force in the finals. Fargo came into the playoffs as the fourth seed (out of four teams) in the West and is currently enjoying a miraculous run. Chicago hopes to put that to an end.
Ian Scott placed on ECHL Reserve List
Ian Scott was back in game action for a short period of time.
As I noted in last week’s post, the goaltender was loaned from the Marlies to the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder, along with D Riley McCourt.
On May 1st, Scott (kinda?) made his ECHL debut. He was subbed in to play the final 32 seconds for Wichita and did not face a shot. I am unsure as to why this happened.
On Thursday, Scott made his first ECHL start, playing the first two periods for the Thunder and making 21 saves on 24 shots for an 87.5% save percentage. According to InstatHockey, Scott faced 3.09 Expected Goals and ended up allowing three goals. He played pretty well and made some nice stops, but for some reason, he did not return for the third.
On Saturday, it was announced via ECHL Transactions that Scott was placed on the Reserve List:
Evan Weninger comes off IR, Jacob Graves comes off reserve.
Ian Scott and Charlie Combs goes to reserve. https://t.co/yP0wxvSpZB
— Matthew Harding (@SinBinThunder) May 8, 2021
The reserve list is a list that teams put inactive players on. I am why Scott has been added to this list — if he was injured long-term, he would have instead been placed on the Injured Reserve.
Hopefully whatever is keeping Scott out is nothing serious. The 2017 fourth-rounder has been battling injury since winning the WHL Championship in 2019 and has played just two games at the professional level ever since. He simply cannot catch a break.
Other News and Notes
- F Pavel Gogolev’s second AHL goal deserves to be highlighted in this post. Check this out:
What a goal by Pavel Gogolev 👀 #LeafsForever #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/bkpn0SKUKC
— Josh Simpson (@joshsimpson77) May 9, 2021
- What a ridiculous performance from G Joseph Woll on Tuesday. The Marlies goaltender stopped 57 of 60 shots on goal to preserve a 4-3 overtime win against the Laval Rocket. According to Instat Hockey, Woll was peppered with 6.5 Expected Goals Against — and only allowed three goals. He set a few Marlies records on the way, too:
Joseph Woll set some new #Marlies records last night with most saves in a game (57) which passed Justin Pogge's 49 in 2006 and most saves in a period passing Adam Munro's 22 saves in 2009. Woll passed the (49) mark in regulation with 53 saves in 60 minutes.
— Todd Crocker (@ToddCrocker) May 5, 2021
- Mikhail Abramov is the only active Leafs prospect that I have yet to mention in this post. He and Victoriaville opened up their second-round series in the QMJHL playoffs with a 3-2 OTL to Blainville-Boisbriand. Abramov was held pointless in the defeat.
- Some minor news: D Sergei Sapego, who is on an AHL contract with the Marlies, has signed a deal with KHL Dinamo Minsk for next season. He’s played two games for the Marlies this year and is on his last year of a two-year pact signed in 2019.
That’s it for this week’s update. Thanks for reading!