Thanks to Thatcher Demko and his brilliance, the Vancouver Canucks managed to have a pretty good month finishing with an 8-4-1 record. The Utica Comets, on the other hand, weren’t as lucky as they were forced to basically shut down because of COVID-19 protocols. So the hot starts of Jonah Gadjovich, Kole Lind, and Jack Rathbone were placed on pause and subsequently left out of the three-star proceedings.
Nevertheless, prospects outside of the American Hockey League (AHL) continued to play and thrive in their respective leagues. So without further ado, here are the best of the best for the month of March.
3rd Star: Jack Malone – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
March stats: 11 GP – 3 G – 7 A – 10 PTS
Since the 2020-21 season began all Jack Malone has done is put up points. March was no exception as he put up nearly a point-a-game on his way to three goals and ten points in 11 games. He even had his first four-point night of the season against the USNTDP Juniors on Mar 20 that saw him score once and assist on three others. By the end of the month, he had also recorded his 100th point in the USHL, which was not expected to happen since he was supposed to play the entire season in the NCAA with Cornell University.
Malone returned to the USHL for a final swan song after the Ivy League decided to shut down all Winter sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phantoms’ head coach and general manager Brad Patterson is probably loving him in the lineup, even though his team is struggling right now. He had great things to say about him in his draft year, so I’m sure he’s grateful that Malone is around regardless of how the games are ending up.
He’s got an elite hockey IQ, and he’s a tremendous athlete. When you mix everything together, you see the benefits every time he’s on the ice.
The Phantoms sit dead last in the USHL’s Eastern Conference, so to say that they are a long shot to make the playoffs would be a massive understatement. Despite that, Malone has shone as one of their best players, even though what he is doing has not changed the overall outcome of their season.
2nd Star: Vasily Podkolzin – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
March stats: 10 GP – 3 G – 3 A – 6 PTS
Vasily Podkolzin may have finished the month with fewer points than Malone, but his star shone brighter because of when he put up the points. Right now his team is competing in the KHL Playoffs, where the pressure to perform is at its highest. Since the final leg of his KHL career began, he has been one of SKA St. Petersburg’s best players, even with head coach Valeri Bragin’s questionable deployment.
Despite spending most of his time on the fourth line with fellow youngsters Kirill Marchenko and Ivan Morozov, Podkolzin has managed to put up points. In fact, he scored the game-winner in Game 1 of their first-round matchup against Dinamo Minsk and then played the role of playmaker on Linden Vey’s overtime goal in Game 5. By the end of the series, he had recorded two goals and an assist in five games. Needless to say, he used every second on the ice to its fullest.
In the second round against Dynamo Moskva, Podkolzin was productive yet again, scoring a goal in Game 3’s overtime victory and then assisting on two others in Games 4 and 5. Again, he didn’t see much ice, but he still got his name on the scoresheet. After knocking off yet another opponent on Friday, his team is now in the semi-finals and he is on a three-game point streak. Not bad for a player that rarely gets over 14 minutes of ice time from his head coach.
Podkolzin seems to thrive when the lights are at their brightest. We already have seen what he can do in the World Juniors, Karjala, and Gagarin Cups, now all we have to wait for is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Something tells me he will thrive there too.
1st Star: Linus Karlsson – BIK Karlskoga (HockeyAllsvenskan)
March stats: 10 GP – 6 G – 6 A – 12 PTS
After being an honourable mention in February, prospect Linus Karlsson takes the top spot in March after a dominating 12-point performance. In total, he had four multi-point efforts, fired 42 shots on goal, and was only kept off the scoresheet twice. He also didn’t slow down when the playoffs began, with four points already to his name.
Despite having his five-game point streak snapped on Monday, BIK Karlskoga is off to the second round, and Karlsson is a huge reason why. If he ever comes over to North America, he could be a nice addition to the Canucks bottom-six and power play.
Honourable Mention: Joni Jurmo – Kiekko-Espoo (Mestis)
March stats: 6 GP – 1 G – 4 A – 5 PTS
After starting the 2020-21 season bouncing around the U20 SM-sarja and the Finnish Liiga, Joni Jurmo got loaned out to Kiekko-Espoo in the Mestis and finally found some consistency. Since starting the loan on Feb 19, he has produced at almost a point-a-game pace and has seen a plethora of ice time from his head coach Janne Tuunanen.
If this newfound production becomes the norm, Jurmo could find himself back in the Liiga in no time. Although, with how they utilize rookie defenceman, it might be better for his development to stay in the Mestis where he can get loads of ice time playing in all situations. Regardless, it’s great to see him finally racking up points somewhere this season.
Who Will Be the Three Stars of April?
If the Comets actually get back to playing in the month of April, I wager Rathbone and Gadjovich will factor heavily into the three stars. Gadjovich currently leads the team in goals with eight and Rathbone has only had one game where he did not record a point. His season in the AHL has gone off without a hitch as he’s recorded five points in four games so far. Though, with how Podkolzin and Karlsson are playing right now, they will have to do something really special to prevent them from repeating as stars next month.
Three Stars Standings
- Linus Karlsson – 3 pts
- Aidan McDonough – 3 pts
- Vasily Podkolzin – 2 pts
- Jackson Kunz – 2 pts
- Jonah Gadjovich – 1 point
- Jack Malone – 1 point
Which Canucks prospect do you think will be part of the three stars next month? Let us know in the comments below!