Courtnall, Victoria Still Alive

N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/27

Len Barrie's Grizzlies stave off elimination at home ... Witkowski hits 20 points for the year ... Fadden a star again leading TC to a 3-1 series lead ... Draft Watch ... and your obscure ex-Bolt reference: Kaspars Astashenko.

BCHL Playoffs – Coastal Conference Finals

Powell River Kings 1 @ Victoria Grizzlies 4
Powell River leads Best of 7 series 3-2
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-0-0, 2 PIM (hit-to-the-head + misconduct)
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 2-3-5, 20 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 22-41-63, 98 PIM

Victoria lives to play another day. Courtnall and a couple of his teammates were called out in the Victoria paper this week for their lack of offensive production in the series. Courtnall scored a goal in Game 1 and hasn't been heard from since. Game 6 is Saturday in Powell River.

USHL
Tri-City Storm 2 @ Fargo Force 6 (Regular Season)
D Luke Witkowski, FGO: 0-1-1, +2, 4 PIM (interference, cross-checking), 1 SOG
Season totals: 51 GP, 5-15-20, +28, 114 PIM

With the flooding taking place in Fargo right now, the game was moved to Grafton and played in front of 603 fans. Witkowski hits the 20 point mark for the first time in his career. Jake Areshenko was Third Star for Fargo – and I only mention this because every time I see his name I have to look twice to make sure ex-Bolt Kaspars Astashenko (pictured) isn’t making a come-back. Because you know you want to know – ol’ Kaspars, who once scored a gorgeous goal on a wicked wrister against Pittsburgh when Ludzik moved him to wing (his only NHL goal) – played this year in Italy for first place Ritten. The Tigers were defeated by HC Bozen for the league championship in the playoffs. Astashenko was over a point per game at 9-33-42 in 38 games with 118 PIM (and listed as a defenseman) for both the regular season and playoffs. After leaving the AHL in 2003, the Latvian has played in Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and now Italy.

WHL Playoffs – Round 1

Tri-City Americans 4 @ Everett Silvertips 1
Tri-City leads Best of 7 series 3-1
C Mitch Fadden, TC: 1-2-3, +3, 0 PIM, *Second Star*
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 2-4-6, +3, 2 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 37-39-76, +24, 49 PIM

The Americans take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, sweeping Everett in on the ‘Tips home ice, and can end the opening round playoff series Saturday in Kennewick. TC was down 1-0 entering the second period before Fadden set up linemate Johnny Lazo to tie the game. He then got a secondary assist on the eventual game winner by Tyler Schmidt early in the third before getting the insurance goal himself.

Draft Watch

Brayden Schenn is third in WHL playoff scoring with 4-4-8 in 4 games. Brandon swept Kootenay 4-0.

Evander Kane was 2-3-5 with a team leading 19 PIM for Vancouver in the Giants sweep of Prince George.

Matt Duchene, who was called a "lock" for the No.3 spot in the draft by Pierre McGuire in this week's Sports Illustrated, is also 4-4-8 in 4 games. Brampton swept Peterborough.

John Tavares, who is the likely No.1 pick in the draft and is looking like a longshot for the Lightning now, has 2-3-5 for London in 4 games. London leads Erie 3-1 behind 8 points (4-4) from Nazim Kadri, who will likely be a top-10 pick in this year's draft.

Taylor Hall, the early favorite to be the No.1 pick in 2010 (hopefully TB isn't in contention for this again), has an astounding 12 points in 4 games for Windsor (7-5-12) so far. The Spits swept Owen Sound.