The sophomore slump can be an annoying pest for some players to shake. 19-year-old goaltending prospect Jake Oettinger can probably tell you first-hand what it’s like.
A sophomore as well in the scholastic sense of the word, Oettinger’s 2017-18 season, his second with the Boston University Terriers, has not gone as smoothly as his first one did. Oettinger put up a sparkling .927 save percentage in the 2016-17 season, but has not yet been able to reach the same heights this year.
The Terriers did lose Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Kieffer Bellows and Doyle Somerby over the summer, and that loss of talent has likely had a seriously negative impact on both Oettinger’s numbers and the team’s play as a whole.
The good news, however, is that things might have finally turned a corner for the Stars’ 1st round, 26th-overall selection in the 2017 draft.
As also reported by Mark Stepneski yesterday, Oettinger has now won four games in a row, sporting a .931 save percentage over that span. One of his wins over the weekend was a 23-save shutout, his third blanking of the campaign.
Oettinger’s play over the holidays with Team USA at the World Juniors might have been the spark that his season needed. The challenge now, of course, will be keeping that pesky sophomore slump from creeping back into the picture.
North American Juniors
Both of the Stars’ NCAA goaltenders played great hockey this weekend, but in the case of Colton Point, it’s a continuation of what he’s been doing all season. Point stopped 42 of 44 shots in a 2-1 loss on Friday before turning away all 51 shots in a record-setting shutout on Sunday. That’s a staggering number of saves, and he did it against a good Harvard team. As reported yesterday, he’s making a very strong case for himself in the Hobey Baker sweepstakes.
Let's see where Point's 51-save shutout of Harvard stacks up:— Colgate Men's Hockey (@ColgateMIH) January 29, 2018
-Most saves in a shutout in program history ✅
-Most saves in regulation for Colgate since Jeff Cooper in 1984 ✅
-Fourth-most saves in NCAA Men's Hockey this season ✅ pic.twitter.com/G1ByyAMhVV
Check out the highlights from last night's incredible shutout at Harvard! pic.twitter.com/Im9KyQDogG— Colgate Men's Hockey (@ColgateMIH) January 28, 2018
Speaking of consistency, Jason Robertson has been a paragon of steady, reliable play this season, and this past week was no different. He tallied five points in three games played, bringing his totals on the season to 65 points in 48 games, which is good for 6th in OHL scoring. He also sits 4th in goals in the league, with 31, and 1st in terms of shots, with 222 (an average of 4.6 per game).
Liam Hawel picked up a goal and an assist in three games for the Guelph Storm. Both points came in the same game, a 3-2 win over the London Knights. Highlights are here. Hawel has had some very impressive individual games this season, but he’s still a streaky player at this point in his young career.
Brett Davis had another big week for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, picking up six points over three games. The quick center now has 20 points in the 15 games since the Christmas break. Video of a highlight-reel assist can be found here at the 0:42 second mark.
Miro Heiskanen returned from injury last week and looked like he didn’t miss a beat, scoring two goals and an assist in two games. One of Heiskanen’s goals was a thing of beauty, too:
Jacob Peterson has been bouncing around between three different teams in three different leagues over the past little while, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting his play. He was called up to Frolunda in the SHL for two more games, but barely saw the ice. He also played two contests in the top Swedish under-20 league, grabbing three points. He’s producing at more than a point-per-game in that league, currently sitting at 32 points in 29 games.
Another week, another mixed bag of action for the Texas Stars. This week, though, did at least see more good than bad, with a split of two wins and one loss.
They defeated the San Jose Barricuda 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday night, before dropping a 6-2 decision to the Stockton Heat on Friday. They rebounded well from that defeat and got their revenge, however, by toppling Stockton 4-3 on Saturday.
Denis Gurianov had a goal and two assists in the three games, while Roope Hintz and Gavin Bayreuther each tallied goals as well. Landow Bow started two of the games, stopping 28 of 30 shots on Tuesday before allowing five goals on 29 shots on Friday.
2018 NHL Draft Watch
Last week I used this space to discuss K’Andre Miller, a big two-way defenseman with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and this week I’m going to talk about another prospect who fits that profile: Mattias Samuelsson.
The son of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, Mattias is a 6’4”, 216-pound blueliner that skates well, can handle the puck and makes an impact at both ends of the ice. He has seven points, a +9 rating and 38 penalty minutes in 10 USHL games this season with the USNTDP, which does a good job of summarizing what you can expect from Samuelsson; that is to say, a little bit of everything. He’s headed to Western Michigan University next fall.
Samuelsson shows up all over the map in different draft boards (for the record, I have him 15th on my personal rankings), so a big performance at this year’s IIHF U18s in the spring could go a long way in determining where he ends up come draft day.