As many of you know by now, the Canadian Hockey League started up their regular season this weekend and there were quite a few Carolina Hurricanes prospects who were in action. The most noteworthy name of the bunch is obviously their 2011 first round pick Ryan Murphy, who is serving as the top defenseman and team captain of the Kitchener Rangers but he didn’t come close to having the best weekend. That honor would go to Keegan Lowe, the Canes third round pick from the same year who is spending his fourth season with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Lowe and the Oil Kings started off their season with quite a bang last Thursday with a 5-3 win over the Kootenay Ice and Lowe recording the first Gordie Howe hat trick of the Western Hockey League season. The Oil Kings are the reigning WHL champs and they definitely got their season started on the right foot with wins over Kootenay and Red Deer with Lowe playing a big role in the first victory. Lowe is one of the lesser-known names in the Hurricanes system but that could change soon if he builds off this performance and Caniacs could get a chance to see him at training camp next season.
So, we know that Lowe’s season is off to a great start but what about some of the other youngsters in the Canes system? Find out after the jump.
Ryan Murphy – 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 4 PIM (Kitchener Rangers)
The good news is that Kitchener won their two games this weekend, the first one being a 3-0 shutout over the newly christened Mississauga Steelheads and the second coming in the shootout against the Sarnia Sting. The bad news is that Murphy was held off the scoresheet in both contests. I’m sure that the points will come to Murphy eventually since he is a player of high offensive caliber and has a lot more experience under his belt now.
Murphy was also on ice for three of the Rangers powerplay goals this weekend and he was instrumental in setting up Radek Faksa’s goal. He wasn’t credited with an assist but he did help set the play up at the point, which is one of the things he is very skilled at. Unfortunately, he also took two penalties in that game and lost an edge in the defensive zone in the game against Sarnia.
Aside from that, there isn’t much to report from Murphy but hopefully that changes soon.
Brock McGinn – 2 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, 2 PIM (Guelph Storm)
Many are hoping that McGinn can improve his scoring output this season and he is certainly making good progress towards that by recording an assist in each of Guelph’s first two games. McGinn’s first assist couldn’t have come at a better time, too as he helped set up the Storm’s overtime goal against Sarnia on Friday night. He camped himself out at the side of the net, grabbed a shot from the point and made a nice little pass to Justin Auger, who scored the game-winner.
McGinn added another assist in Guelph’s next game against the London Knights by winning a puck battle along the boards and getting the puck back to the point where Matt Finn fired home a shot past the London goaltender to give the Storm the lead at the time. That would be one of the few things McGinn and the Storm had to cheer about in this game, though as they were blown out by the reigning OHL champs 8-2. It’s worth noting that McGinn wasn’t on ice for any of the London goals, at least.
Trevor Carrick – 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 6 PIM (Mississauga Steelheads)
Carrick didn’t show up much on the scoresheet or in the highlight clips but he did make himself noticeable in the Kitchener game for both good and bad reasons. Carrick took three total penalties on the weekend, including a hitting from behind call in the Kitchener game but he was also much more involved offensively than I expected him to be given he’s billed as more of a shutdown defenseman. Take a look at the highlight package from the Kitchener game and you’ll see that quite a few of Carrick’s shots were getting through to the goaltender and he looked decent when it came to setting up plays from the point. I hope to see this part of this game improve because that could help him stand out amongst the pack.
However, Carrick was tagged with a -1 in the Steelheads win over Barrie the other night but he wasn’t at fault for the goal. His defense partner, Stuart Percy, pinched on the play, leaving a forward to cover the other point and that led to John MacDonald going coast-to-coast against the forward and scoring a terrific goal. There wasn’t much Carrick or the goalie could do there. Fortunately, Mississauga won the game in overtime and gave up only 25 shots on net. I would like to think that Carrick played a role in that but I didn’t see enough of the game to be sure.
Matt Mahalak – 0-0-1-1, .871 Sv%, 8 GA on 62 shots (Plymouth Whalers)
Mahalak had a rough season debut as he gave up six goals on 32 shots in the Whalers OT loss to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. That’s definitely an ugly looking stat-line but the team in front of him didn’t exactly help the cause by taking 8 penalties. He got the start again the next night against Belleville and performed much better by surrendering only two goals on 30 shots, but ended up taking the loss in overtime. There always tends to be a lot of high scoring in junior hockey so I never know what to make of save percentages but let’s hope that the rest of Mahalak’s season goes similar to his performance against Belleville. I’m sure that his first win will come soon.
Daniel Altshuller – 1-1-0-0, .921 Sv%, 5 GA on 63 shots (Oshawa Generals)
After winning OHL Rookie Goaltender of the Year honors last season, Altshuller’s 2012-13 campaign started off on a strong note with a solid performance on the road against Peterborough. The Generals made things easy for him by taking a 5-0 lead to begin the contest but Altshuller did face 37 shots, so it wasn’t a rocking chair performance by any means. There wasn’t much he could do about the two goals he gave up either. The first goal was a shot from within in the two face-off circles and the second goal came on a long shot with a ton of traffic in front. All in all, a well-deserved win for Altshuller and the Generals.
Things went much less smoothly the next night against Sudbury as Altshuller was tagged with three goals on 27 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Wolves. Still not a bad start to his season, though.
Keegan Lowe – 2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 Pts, 9 PIM (Edmonton Oil Kings)
The Oil Kings are off to a terrific start as they have outscored their first two opponents 11-5 with Lowe playing a role in their high offensive showing in their 5-2 win against Kootenay. He scored his first goal of the year on a quick snap-shot from the point and also recorded an assist in that game. Lowe also got in a fight with Kootenay’s Jeff Hubic to record the first Gordie Howe Hat Trick of the season. Lowe was also on ice for three Edmonton goals in the contest and only one of Kootenay’s. He was kept quiet in Edmonton’s win over Red Deer on Sunday afternoon, though.
Tyler Stahl – 0 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts (Victoria Royals)
Stahl has been a healthy scratch for the Royals in their first two games. Let’s hope he can work his way into the lineup.
Lowe, Altshuller and McGinn had very solid showings this weekend and I’m sure that there will be a lot more positive things to report in the future regarding these players.