Each week I will be featuring the top three performers among first time eligible players for the 2020 NHL draft. Along with the occasional honourable mention for other noteworthy accomplishments. Here are my three stars for the period from Saturday, November 30th through Friday, December 6th.
This past week featured explosive performances by many of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL draft.
1. Jacob Perreault
Sarnia Sting forward Jacob Perreault has caught fire of late. This past week he showed why he is expected to be a late first-round pick for the 2020 NHL draft. He began the week with a four-point effort versus the Soo Greyhounds in an 8-3 victory. With the Sting down 1-0 in the first period, Perreault scored his 11th goal of the season on the powerplay to knot the game at 1-1. He then added a primary assist at even strength in the second period. In the third period, he provided a second primary assist, this one coming with the man advantage, before notching his 12th goal of the season into the empty net. Perreault earned the third star of the game honour.
In the next contest, Perreault struck with a powerplay goal in the second period to put the Sting up 2-0. The Flint Firebirds responded with four straight goals to take a 4-2 lead before Perreault once again found the back of the net with the man advantage. However, Flint would add an empty-net goal to down the Sting 5-3. Perreault earned the third-star of the game honour.
Perreault would cap off the week with his third straight two-goal performance. It came in an 11-8 loss to the Saginaw Spirit. Perreault would also add an assist in the affair, giving him nine points in the three games he played this week, and 35 points in 25 games on the season.
2. Quinton Byfield
Sudbury Wolves star forward Quinton Byfield is the consensus number two ranked player for the 2020 NHL draft. This week he demonstrated why he earned that billing. In a 5-4 overtime triumph over the Mississauga Steelheads, Byfield stole the show. He opened the scoring by crashing the net and tipping in a cross-crease pass. Later with the Wolves trailing 4-3 in the third period, Byfield got behind the defence and slipped home a backhand shot. That set the stage for his overtime game-winning goal in which he unleashed a wicked wrist shot from the slot. Undeniably, Byfield earned the first star of the game honour.
He followed that performance with a five-point effort in an 8-5 victory at the expense of the Flint Firebirds. His three first period assists helped the Wolves jump out to a 4-1 first period lead. He added a fourth assist in the second period before adding a late goal in the final frame. Byfield currently has 55 points in 29 games and is only two points off the lead in the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead.
3. Antonio Stranges
Recently demoted to the fourth line by London Knights coach Dale Hunter to work on his play without the puck, Antonio Stranges responded with an offensive frenzy. In a 4-1 victory over the Flint Firebirds, Stranges broke the game open with two third-period goals. The first coming on a breakaway in which he went upstairs with a deadly backhand shot. The second goal showed his quick release as he wasted no time snapping home a shot from the slot. He received the first star of the game honour for his performance.
Later in the week, Stranges continued his torrid pace in a game against the Peterborough Petes. With the Knights trailing 1-0 in the second period, he stickhandled the puck to the front of the net and unleashed a backhand shot to tie the game 1-1. It marked the fifth straight game in which he has recorded a goal. He added a second goal in the third period, but it wasn`t enough as the Knights fell 3-2. Stranges was the second star of the game. It was the third consecutive game in which he received recognition as one of the stars of the game.
In his final game of the week, a 6-3 loss to the Owen Sound Attack, Stranges would be held to one assist. However, his seven points in four games earned him my third star of the week honour.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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