Just 5 Flyers’ Prospects remain active in playoff action. Travis Sanheim and Radel Fazleev’s Calgary Hitmen are gasping for air in their WHL Eastern Conference Final, while across the bracket in Kelowna Tyrell Goulbourne’s Rockets are finally meeting some resistance after going 8-1 through 2 Rounds. In the QMJHL we have a Flyers’ Draft Pick match-up of Aube-Kubel vs. Morin as the Val d’Or Foreurs and Rimouski Oceanic meet in a semi-final showdown.
Flyers Prospects in Junior
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
Calgary kind of squeaked into the Eastern Conference Finals in the WHL. Sure they won their series against Medicine Hat 4-1, but it wasn’t very convincing as the Tigers outshot and outchanced the Hitmen in all but 1 game. Coming into the semis against a massively deep Brandon Wheat Kings team I didn’t have high hopes.. and it seems like I was on the right track.
In game 1 of the series Brandon held a 6-3 lead heading into the 3rd period before they really blew the game open on 2 quick goals. Braylon Shmyr and Morgan Klimchuk had both scored by the 4:08 mark of the final frame and Fazleev was sadly on the ice for both goals. These were back-breaking as the Hitmen could have come back from a 3 goal deficit, but from 5 goals down? No chance. Radel of course shoulders some of the blame, but really this comes down to Keegan Kanzig from my vantage point. Kanzig is slow, and he was beaten cleanly several times on this night by an admittedly strong Brandon offense. Whenever he was on the ice the Wheat Kings were licking their chops.
Fazleev had an assist in the 2nd game of the series, but it wasn’t much of one. He got a piece of a Taylor Sanheim pass that found its way to Michael Zipp at the point. Kind of an incidental tip, not a real assist in my opinion. Just a lucky tip of the puck. Game 3 is in Calgary tonight and the Hitmen will have their work cut out for them as it looks like Brandon might just roll right through them.
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
Fresh off a series-winning Double OT goal you’d hope for great things from Travis in the semi-finals, but the bounces clearly haven’t been going his way so far. It was noticeable in game 1 that he was feeling some frustration as he took uncharacteristic cross-checking and roughing minors. He had 52 PIMs in 67 regular season games total so seeing him head to the box twice in one night isn’t a good sign. He usually shies away from most of the pushing and shoving.
Travis Sanheim is beaten to the inside by Morgan Klimchuk a Calgary Flames prospect (via wheatkings.com).
Travis was on for the first goal of the series as Jayce Hawryluk took an outside shot that found a way in. Nothing he could really do on the play as he had Hawryluk isolated and the shot was from well out on Shields. Bad goal. So on top of blaming Kanzig for some of the bad play I’ll nominate Mack Shields for a large chunk of that as well. One of the lone highlights in this game for the Hitmen (aside from their goals of course) was a play where Sanheim danced into the slot past a few defenders for a dangerous shot. It didn’t go in, but hey at least he was trying to make things happen offensively.
With Shields identified as one of the problems in game 1 the coaching staff went to back up Brendan Burke in game 2 and he was pelted with 46 shots in the 3-2 loss. Calgary had just 24 of their own shots and you can see where the series is probably heading. Again, not a lot to talk about for Sanheim. He hasn’t had the same offensive flair lately, but that’s to be expected coming up against tougher teams. He hasn’t been exposed the way Kanzig and Harmsworth have in this series so far and that to me is a good sign.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
Val d’Or made a huge comeback in their series against Baie-Comeau after being down 3-0. That may have been all for not as they’re down 2-0 again; this time to Rimouski. Or.. they’ll just have to do it all over again and make another historic comeback against the Oceanic.
Nicolas had an assist in the first period of game 1 on an Anthony Richard goal which would tie the game at 1-1. It was a pretty one as Rimouski tried to clear the zone Nic picked the attempt out of the air with his glove. He beat 1 defender and had the patience to get around another sliding Oceanic defenseman as he slid the puck over to Richard for a tap-in. Offensive instincts definitely on display with a bang-bang play from Aube-Kubel. I should mention the player sliding on the ice in a last second effort to block a potential shot (and looking dumb because of Aube-Kubel’s patience) is none other than Samuel Morin.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (left) has had great chemistry with Anthony Richard (right) who is a smallish but talented draft eligible Center this Summer (via oceanic.qc.ca)
Picked up a roughing minor at the end of game 2 as a scrum started at the whistle. Other than that Val d’Or didn’t show a whole lot of get-up-and-go in the 2nd game. Rimouski look strong.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
I’m pretty hard on Morin every week and that’s because with big defensemen you’re a lot more likely to get an Oliver Lauridsen than a Chris Pronger. I’m pulling for him just like everyone else, but on the Aube-Kubel assisted Anthony Richard goal he was pulling a Lauridsen (i.e. he was flopping on the ice like a Walrus). It was painful to watch.
Morin is mobbed by teammates on a goal he probably didn’t help create (via oceanic.qc.ca)
Morin-supporters will say, “but hey Keenan, Sam was on the ice for the last 3 Rimouski goals offensively!”. Yeahhh, but he didn’t contribute to those plays. He touched the puck once on the scoring plays, and it was a decent one-timer that missed the net I believe. He’s got a really big shot, no doubt there, that’ll happen when you’re pushing Zdeno Chara size; it’s just physics.. or something.. whatever. More often than not it’s more skilled players surrounding Morin that result in Sam picking up the odd assist.
Watching the highlights of the 2nd game of the series.. I’m not sure Morin or Aube-Kubel factored into any of the scoring (3-0 Rimouski) plays or even other highlights.. That’s not such a bad thing considering both are known as defensive players.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
Opposite the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Conference Finals, Goulbourne’s Kelowna Rockets have to take on a strong Portland Winterhawks team. As they found out early in game 1 you can’t give the Winterhawks guys much space; Oliver Bjorkstrand walked in to the dot and roofed a goal on Jackson Whistle. Goulbourne was on the ice for this, and didn’t really back-check Bjorkstrand as vigorously as he could have, but this shot was.. unstoppable for a WHL netminder.
Tyrell Goulbourne fights with Winterhawks defenseman Anton Cederholm for position on the forecheck during game 2 of their semi-final series (via kelownadailycourier.ca)
Arguably the most important part of the series so far is the goal call on the Rockets 1st of the series. Bowey comes in off the point on a shorthanded rush and scores. The play-by-play man has NO IDEA how to react he’s so happy he just screams. Seriously. It’s at about 2:10 of that highlight pack. It’s wonderful.
Goulbourne isn’t going to get a whole lot of ice in this series as he’s essentially been dropped out of the top-6 now, but he did start game 2 on the wing with Merkley and Chartier so it’s hard to understand where he’s fitting in. His PP time has been cut to almost nothing as the season has worn on. Obviously that’s because of the additions Kelowna made in an attempt to push towards a Championship. With his ice time dwindling it’s easy to see why Tyrell cooled off towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.
Matt has a Prospect Projection of what we might expect from Tyrell over here!
(Edit: it’s been brought to my attention that the Rockets’ play-by-play guy always calls goals with “HE SCAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” so I guess it’s not that exciting? I still think it was ridiculous and I love it).