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. This past week featured a pair of scorching hot teammates from the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League player that helped his team climb to the top of the standings. Here are my three stars for the period from Saturday, December 28th through Friday, January 3rd.
1. Marco Rossi
With many of the top OHL stars participating at the World Junior Championships, Marco Rossi seized the opportunity and climbed to the top of the OHL scoring lead. The Ottawa 67’s star forward tallied 65 points in 53 games a year ago, in an impressive rookie season. This season, however, he surpassed that total in just 28 games and is expected to go early at the 2020 NHL draft. His performance this week helped the 67’s sweep all four games they played and maintained their spot atop the OHL standings.
This week’s performance
The 67’s began their week with an impressive 7-2 drubbing of the Kingston Frontenacs. Trailing 2-1 in the second period, Rossi deposited a rebound to knot the game 2-2. Two minutes later, he unleashed a wrist shot to the top corner for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Not done there, Rossi then set up the game’s final marker for a three-point performance.
The 67’s followed that effort with a convincing 6-1 triumph over the Peterborough Petes. After the Petes opened the scoring, Rossi positioned himself at the edge of the crease and managed to redirect a pass from down low to tie the game. Later, he added a second-period goal when he received a cross-ice pass and fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. He completed the hat-trick for his second straight three-point game in the final period when he one-timed a pass from the point.
In the lone OHL game played on New Year’s Day, the 67’s downed the Oshawa Generals 5-2. Rossi only managed one assist in the game but earned the third star of the game honour. It marked the third straight game in which he garnered a selection as one of the game’s three stars.
In the following contest, Rossi turned in another three-point effort as Ottawa once again defeated the Kingston Frontenacs, this time by an 8-4 count. Rossi opened the scoring after taking a breakaway pass and going in alone just 2:15 into the game. He added a pair of second-period powerplay assists and received the nod as the second star of the game.
For his ten-point week, he claimed the top spot in my three stars of the week.
2. Jack Quinn
Similar to Rossi, teammate Jack Quinn also significantly contributed to the success of the 67’s this past week. He would find the back of the net seven times in the four contests.
In the first match, he got behind the defence late in the game and slipped the puck through the five-hole to tally his 20th goal of the season.
Likewise, in the next game, he managed to get into the clear. However, this time he would go high glove-side.
On New Year’s Day, Quinn would strike twice, with one of the goals coming on a 2-on-1 when he rifled in off the crossbar.
Quinn would close out his week with a hat-trick performance, which earned him the honour of the first star of the game selection.
3. Connor McClennon
The Winnipeg Ice are in the top spot in the East Division of the Eastern Conference of the WHL standings, and Connor McClennon has played a prominent role. His play of late has undoubtedly helped his ranking for the 2020 NHL draft. McClennon contributed eight points in three wins this past week.
The Ice began the week with a 3-2 edging of the Brandon Wheat Kings. McClennon had primary assists on both the game-tying and game-winning goals as they came from behind to grab the victory. The game-tying goal came while shorthanded.
Two days later, McClennon added a pair of goals in another 3-2 decision versus their division rival the Prince Albert Raiders. He scored the game’s opening goal as well as the third-period game-winner.
In the third game of the week, McClennon scored the game’s opening goal and later added three assists. The Ice handily defeated the Saskatoon Blades 6-1 in that affair.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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