2020 NHL draft : Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada Images
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, December 14th through Friday, December 20th.
This past week saw a Russian star elevate his game to lead his country to a gold medal, while two players from the Ontario Hockey League continued their exceptional play.
1. Pavel Tyutnev
Dynamic Russian center Pavel Tyutnev saved his best performances for the medal round at the recent World Junior A Challenge. His first-period natural hat-trick propelled the Russian squad to a 5-1 semi-final victory over the Czech Republic. Then in the gold-medal game, Tyutnev scored the regulation goal in Russia’s 2-1 double-overtime win versus Canada East. It was the first-ever gold medal for Russia at the WJAC. Tyutnev impressed me with his ability to reach top speed in just a few strides.
His first goal versus the Czech Republic was a lucky one. His centring pass on a 2-on-1 break went in off the skate of a Czech defender. However, his next two were the result of highly-skilled plays. On his second goal, Tyutnev stole the puck just inside the Russian blueline. He then put the puck off the right boards to teammate Alexander Pashin and turned on the jets to create another 2-on-1. This time he was on the receiving end of a pass and showed great patience before burying it top-shelf to put Russia up 3-0 midway through the period. His final tally came late in the opening frame when he crossed the Czech blueline on a solo rush and fired the puck low to the goaltender’s glove-side and just inside the post.
In the gold-medal game against Canada East, Tyutnev scored late in the third period to put Russia ahead 1-0. Canada, however, would tie the game with just over a minute remaining to force overtime. The game eventually decided in double-overtime when Russia scored while on the powerplay to win gold.
Upon returning to Russia, Tyutnev added a goal in a 4-1 victory for Loko Yaroslavl in his first game back. His heroics earned him the first star of the week honour.
2. Jacob Perreault
Two weeks ago, Jacob Perreault earned the first star of the week honour with his three consecutive two-goal games. He continued his blistering pace scoring five times in his last three games. Perreault began the week with a hat-trick versus the Mississauga Steelheads in a 7-6 wide-open affair. Perreault sniped a shot from down low while on the powerplay to put the Sarnia Sting up 1-0. The Steelheads scored the next three before Perreault added his second of the contest in the final minute of the second period. He grabbed a rebound, spun around and unleashed a quick snap-shot that found the back of the net. Perreault added the game-winning goal with just over a minute remaining in a wild eight-goal third period. He scored from the front of the net after receiving a centring pass from behind the net.
Perreault failed to hit the scoresheet on Thursday in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Saginaw Spirit but scored twice on Friday night in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Windsor Spitfires. He also provided a primary assist on the third-period go-ahead marker. Once again, he opened the scoring. After stealing a puck at the blue-line, he was chopped down but dished off to a teammate, regained his balance, and stuffed home the rebound. His second goal was an absolute beauty. Perreault took the puck end-to-end and roofed a backhand shot while on the powerplay.
His six-point effort this week earned him the second star of the week.
3. Cole Perfetti
After being released by Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships, Cole Perfetti returned to the Saginaw Spirit, having an immediate impact. He recorded five points in two games this past week to earn the third star of the week honour.
Perfetti would notch a pair of first-period goals in a 5-3 decision over the Flint Firebirds. His first goal was the teddy bear toss goal and came when he jumped on a rebound in the left face-off circle and quickly snapped it into the open side to tie the game 1-1. Perfetti scored again to put the Spirit up 2-1 before the period ended. Similar to his first goal, it came on a rebound. This time, however, he was in the slot and scored on the backhand.
He turned playmaker in the next contest adding three assists in a 5-4 overtime triumph over the Sarnia Sting. All three helpers were primary assists, including the one on the overtime game-winner.
In the OHL, Mississauga Steelheads forward Aidan Prueter had five points in four games. While in the Western Hockey League, Connor McClennon, Ronan Seeley and Cross Hanas all recorded four-point weeks.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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