This is an exciting time for many junior hockey players, as a select grouping of them just returned from participating in the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. If that wasn't enough, the NHL training camps just started up and there were plenty of junior hockey players invited to join the teams who own their NHL rights for a chance at playing in the big leagues. Even if they only stick around for a couple games, the thrill of playing in the best league in the world has to be quite an experience for these players who are lucky enough to get an invite.
Defenseman Ryan Murphy was the only junior player who Carolina invited to camp, and while I think he is a longshot to make the team, he is going to have the next week to make the best impression he can on the coaching staff so that they may consider giving him a full-time roster spot. I mean, if there is anyway Murphy can erase his lackluster performance at the World Juniors from his mind, it's making the NHL out of camp. I still don't think he is ready yet, but almost anything can happen in such a short training camp period. All he has to do is make the most of this opportunity.
Before he departed for camp, however, Murphy still had a couple games to play with the Kitchener Rangers and after the jump we will talk about how he and the rest of Carolina's junior prospects performed.
Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers – 2 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, 0 PIM
If these were Murphy's last games with the Rangers, he can at least say that he went out on somewhat of a high note with two solid games. He had a pretty strong performance in their 6-2 win over Guelph where he tallied an assist and was on-ice for three even strength goals. He recorded another assist in their 5-1 win over the Sarnia Sting and was on-ice for two Kitchener goals in addition to that. Again, I think he is better off spending the rest of the year in Kitchener but I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays in camp and possibly the regular season. It just seems doubtful that he is ready for the NHL in this point despite his strong offensive performance as of late.
Brock McGinn, Guelph Storm – 3 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts, 2 PIM
McGinn got his 11th goal of the season in Guelph's 5-1 win over Kingston where he scored the game-tying goal off a rebound chance. He also played a key role in Guelph's third goal of the game where he provided a screen in front of the net which allowed a long slap shot from the point to get past the Kingston goaltender. McGinn's performance in the other two games were not as noteworthy, as he was on-ice for two goals in their 6-2 loss to Kitchener and took two penalties in a 3-2 win over Barrie. Although he did record an assist in the Kitchener game.
Trevor Carrick, Mississauga Steelheads – 0 GP
Carrick was a scratch in all three Mississauga games this past week, all of which were losses I might add. I'm not sure if he was injured of if he was out of the lineup due to performance but it appears that the Steelheads defense needs some help right now regardless. They gave up over 40 shots in two of their three games this week.
Keegan Lowe, Edmonton Oil Kings – 4 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, 5 PIM
Lowe had a tough game to start the week as he ended up being on-ice for a goal against after failing to cover a forward in the slot. He was able to rebound with a two-assist game in a 4-0 win over Lethbridge Hurricanes later in the week, though. Lowe showed some of his offensive potential on Edmonton's third goal, too as he made a great pinch down low to set up Trevor Cheek to put the Oil Kings in front 3-0. Lowe would also get involved offensively in Edmonton's next game, scoring the game winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Saskatoon. The next night, Lowe was kept off the scoresheet but he was a +2 in a 3-0 win over Medicine Hat where Curtis Lazar recorded a hat trick. Lowe is someone who could potentially be at Hurricanes camp next season and it's possible that he may creep higher on the team's radar if continues to stay healthy and play well.
Austin Levi, Plymouth Whalers – 3 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, 0 PIM
Levi was on-ice for a total of four goals against in Plymouth's first two games of the week, but he ended the week on a strong note by recording an assist on Plymouth's game winner in overtime against Erie. This was Levi's first point in awhile, so it was good to see him get back on the scoresheet and it's even better that Plymouth won two of their last three games.
Tyler Stahl, Victoria Royals – 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 2 PIM
The only game Stahl played in was Victoria's 6-1 loss to the Kelowna Rockets and he took a kneeing penalty in that game. He was inactive for the rest of the week and I'm not sure if it was a coach's decision or for disciplinary reasons. Stahl's gotten into trouble a few times this season, so there is a good chance it may have been the latter. Victoria was outscored 11-15 on the week, so things could be going better for the Royals either way.
Victor Rask, Calgary Hitmen – 0 GP
Rask didn't play in any of the Hitmen's games this week. My guess is that he is still in Sweden after the World Juniors but I'll defer to someone who knows more about the situation than me.
Matt Mahalak, Plymouth Whalers – 8 GA on 73 shots, .901 Sv%
I said last week that Mahalak's next start would come after a bad performance by Alex Nedeljkovic and that's exactly what happened in Plymouth's 6-5 loss to Saginaw. Nedeljkovic was pulled a little over five minutes into the game after giving up three goals and Mahalak gave up 3 goals on 24 shots in relief. He got the start in their next game against Brampton and performed very well by stopping 32 of 34 shots en route to a 4-2 win. His performance against Erie was slightly worse despite the Whalers picking up the win in overtime. He appears to have the starting job locked down for now, or at least until his next bad performance.
Daniel Altshuller, Oshawa Generals – 6 GA on 70 shots, .914 Sv%
Altshuller picked up his second shutout of the season with a 22-save performance to help the Generals defeat the Ottawa 67's 2-0. His other two performances last week were not quite as good as he allowed six goals on a combined 48 shots against Peterborough and Windsor respectively. The Generals offense was able to bail him out against Peterborough with four goals in support but they could only score on against Windsor, unfortunately. Altshuller's job should be safe for the rest of the year but it will be interesting to see how many games they win if they lose Boone Jenner to Columbus. Altshuller definitely hasn't been bad, but it's hard to say that goaltending has been Oshawa's prime strength this season.