December brought more of the same for the Hamilton Bulldogs who continue to
bounce between just being in and just being out of the playoff race. A lot
of that comes from an offence headed by primarily only two players, who not
surprisingly happen to sit atop the 3 Stars for the month. In terms of
junior prospects, our stars are headed by a couple of players who suffered a big
disappointment in the month but kept up their strong play regardless.
1st Star: Charles Hudon – The rookie forward picked up where he
left off in November and continued to be a catalyst for the offence in the early
going. Hudon did, however, suffer through his first real lull of the
season, collecting just a single point (an assist) in the final five games.
That happens to coincide with his line being broken up (and still hasn’t been
reunited regularly since). It’s only a minor setback though as it’s good for
him to have some ups and downs while adjusting to being the go-to guy on his
line instead of sharing the duty with the second star below.
Stats: 13 GP, 3 goals, 8 assists, 11 points, -1 rating, 18 PIMS, 24
2nd Star: T.J. Hensick – The other key member of Hamilton’s top
line, Hensick has worked well with Hudon since the two were put together, giving
the Bulldogs a #1 unit that actually resembled a #1 unit…and it has been a
while since that could be said. His production didn’t suffer as much when
being split up which is a testament to the stability he has brought to the top
six. Veteran minor leaguers often get overlooked but he has been a really
nice addition to the team.
Stats: 13 GP, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 24
3rd Star: Mike Condon – Although his record wasn’t anything
write to home about, it was still a very solid December for Condon. After
starting the season as the backup, he finds himself in a bit of a timeshare
situation with Joey MacDonald and lately, Condon’s getting the odd extra start
of the two. It’s hard to put pressure on a rookie AHL goalie (though to be
fair, he is 24) but it’s looking like he’s going to have be the one to get this
team into the postseason. More months like this one would help make that
Stats: 6 GP, 3-2-1 record, 2.14 GAA, .933 SV%
Honourable Mention: Daniel Carr – He has been the signing that
most people forgot about in an instant and even now, he’s a prospect who hardly
gets any attention. He should. He now has been promoted into a
regular top six role and he has been much more aggressive lately in terms of
getting the puck on net. Part of his success comes from seeing some time
on that now-split top line but Carr’s two-way style made him a very good
complement for that unit.
Stats: 13 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, even rating, 2 PIMS, 35
1st Star: Michael McCarron (London, OHL) – Montreal’s top pick
in 2013 made his last month with the Knights a memorable one, finishing it with
an impressive six point game. McCarron was consistent throughout the
month, even having a six game goal scoring streak…all on the powerplay
(doesn’t that sound particularly appealing given Montreal’s issues there?).
Yes, it’s a disappointment that he didn’t crack the US team for the World
Juniors but to his credit, he has responded quite well since getting cut.
Now, it’s time for him to settle in for what should be another lengthy run with
the OHL’s best team in Oshawa.
Stats: 8 GP, 8 goals, 6 assists, 14 points, -2 rating, 14 PIMS
2nd Star: Nikita Scherbak (Everett, WHL) – Another first
rounder who didn’t make the cut for the WJC’s (I wonder if Russia would like a
mulligan on that decision now?), Scherbak also didn’t let the snub bother him as
he had a point in all but one game for the month – for the third straight month
no less. That type of consistency on top of his raw skill has to have not
only fans of the Silvertips excited but also those in Montreal as well.
Stats: 10 GP, 6 goals, 9 assists, 15 points, +5 rating, 8 PIMS
3rd Star: Tim Bozon (Kootenay, WHL) – After a slow-ish start to
the season, Bozon is starting to round back into form as his comeback continues
from last year’s illness. He isn’t one of the Ices’ top producers but
fortunately, he doesn’t have to be on that team. The overager is giving
them quality 1st/2nd line minutes (lately, more 1st than 2nd) and if his play in
December is an indication, he could be in for a strong second half of the
Stats: 10 GP, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, +4 rating, 0 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Martin Reway (Sparta Praha, Extraliga) –
With a lot of leagues cutting down on their games for the holidays, we have one World Junior performer on our list and Reway was the best of them,
leading Slovakia through the Preliminary Round (which is where the cutoff is for
December). In terms of his club team, he’s still logging big minutes and
playing well; he’s still near a point-per-game on the season. Not bad for
a fourth round pick.
Stats: CZE: 3 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 17:27
WJC: 4 GP, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, -1 rating, 0 PIMS, 9 shots