• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
A whole lotta 2018 draft prospects were in action on Friday, as the always-heavy weekend slate of games began. Much of it took place in the CHL, where the three major-junior leagues combined for 24 games. A number of players also scored their first goals of the season, and in some cases, their first career goals in their respecitve leagues.
The full HDC complement of 10 star performances are listed here for Friday's games. We have five Canadians, three Czechs, one Russian, and one Slovak:
JAN DLUHOS -- Dluhos, who played on the Czechs' World Under-17 and Hlinka Memorial teams, scored his first two goals of the Czech U20 season in Zlin's 5-4 loss to Olomouc. Dluhos noteched his first goal at 14:43 of the first period to tie the game 1-1. He then scored at 14:55 of the second to cut Olomouc's lead to 3-2. That second goal was his fourth point in five games.
COLE FONSTAD -- The Prince Albert Raiders defenseman sparked his team to its 6-5 comeback win over Calgary with two primary assists to earn No. 2 star honors. Fonstad's first assist came on a power play that cut the Hitmen lead to 4-3 at 17:27 of the second period. He then assisted on a game-tying goal to make it 4-4 at 10:35 of the third. It was his second two-assist night of the season. He now has four assists in three WHL games.
MATHIAS LAFERRIERE -- The star of Cape Breton's 4-3 OT win over Bathurst was Egor Sokolov (see below), but Laferriere also had a key role in the game with a goal and an assist. His power-play score tied the game 3-3 with only 12 seconds remaining in the second period. The goal was his first of the 2017-18 season.
MILOS ROMAN -- A huge night on left wing for the Slovak import, who helped the host Vancouver Giants to a 6-3 WHL pounding of Kamloops. Roman, the game's No. 2 star, had a goal, three assists, and a plus-4 rating. The first goal of his WHL career came at 18:43 of the opening period for a 3-1 lead. In the second, Roman had the primary assist on Ty Ronning's game-winning goal at the 10:47 mark. He added another assist early in the third, showing great chemistry with linemates Ronning and Brad Morrison, who are both New York Rangers prospects.
EGOR SOKOLOV -- Picked 30th overall in last June's CHL Import Draft by the QMJHL's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Sokolov is already looking like a great choice. On Friday, he posted a goal and an assist as well as seven shots in Cape Breton's 4-3 overtime win at Bathurst, earning No. 1 star honors. He made it 2-0 at 3:50 of the first period with his second goal of the season. He now has three points in three games.
JAKUB SKAREK -- One of two hot goaltending prospects from the Czech Republic, Skarik is the only one playing in the Extraliga, and he continues to pile up experience against men after also spending last season in his country's best league. On Friday, Skarek stopped 23 shots for a 4-2 victory over Vitkovice. It was his third win of the season, as Jihlava's No. 1 netminder is already 3-2 in 2017-18. He will easily be the most seasoned goalie in the 2018 draft.
TY SMITH -- This is exactly the sort of night that leads to a higher draft position. Smith, ranked No. 9 in the HDC Top 62, was outstanding in leading the WHL's Spokane Chiefs to a dramatic 6-5 overtime comeback win at Kootenay. He finished with three points on a goal and two assists, while adding five shots and a plus-2 rating. But it wasn't just the numbers. The Chiefs trailed 4-0 at 17:10 of the second period when Smith finally got them on the board with a power-play goal. That set the stage for a wild third period, where Smith assisted on two of four Spokane goals. His second assist, a primary helper on the tying goal with 31 seconds left in regulation, completed the comeback and opened the door for an OT win. Hope lots of scouts were there. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
RILEY SUTTER -- Let's not forget there's a Sutter in this draft class. Riley, the son of 1982 first-round pick Ron Sutter, played a big part in the Everett Silvertips' 4-3 shootout win at Kelowna with a goal on one of his eight shots. That goal was a huge one, coming at 17:49 of the third period to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime. What else would anyone expect from a Sutter? He now has goals in all three of his WHL games this season.
AKIL THOMAS -- One of the OHL's best prospects, Thomas is ranked No. 31 in the HDC Top 62, making him a potential first-round pick next year. He did not disappoint on Friday as the No. 1 star of Niagara's 4-1 win vs. Erie. Thomas had a goal, and assist, four shots, and was a remarkable 12-for-16 on faceoffs. His goal, which was his first of the season, came at 12:51 of the third period to make it 3-1.
LIBOR ZABRANSKY JR. -- Another player who came over in the Import Draft, the defenseman cmae up big for Kelowna in its 4-3 shootout loss to Everett. He had a goal, an assist, and four shots on net for the Rockets and was named the game's No. 3 star. The goal, his first in the WHL, gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead at 16:18 of the first period. Zabransky's father played in the NHL with St. Louis, so he's likely got good advice in the decision to come to North America.