UMass-Lowell junior Smith leaves school, signs with Buffalo

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C.J. Smith, the UMass-Lowell forward that finished eighth in the country in goalscoring (23) this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Sabres, the club announced on Thursday.

Smith, 22, is coming off an impressive 51-point junior campaign for the River Hawks, which he punctuated with MVP honors in the Hockey East tournament.

According to the Buffalo News, Smith will get a crack at some NHL action this year and suit up in the Sabres’ final five games of the season.

It’s been a busy 48 hours of departures for UMass-Lowell. Walter Brown Award winner Joseph Gambardella, a senior that served as alternate captain this year, inked with Edmonton yesterday while defenseman Michael Kapla signed with the Devils.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

Flames sign goalie prospect, U.S. world junior champion Tyler Parsons to entry-level deal

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Busy day for the Calgary Flames.

Micheal Ferland is out of the lineup tonight and now under observation for mumps. Curtis Lazar, acquired at the deadline, could make his debut. And the organization got some work done, signing prospect goalie Tyler Parsons to a three-year entry level contract.

The Flames selected Parsons in the second round, 54th overall, of last year’s NHL Draft. This year marks his third season with the OHL’s London Knights.

He currently has a .924 save percentage, which is a regular season career high for him with the Knights, who currently have a record of 46-15-3-4 and have qualified for the post-season.

Familiar territory for Parsons and the Knights. Last year, he backstopped a talented London team to a Memorial Cup title, with a .925 save percentage in the playoffs.

Parsons was also the gold-medal winning goalie for Team USA at this year’s world junior tournament, stopping all five shots he faced in the deciding shootout to best Canada in the finale and posting a .917 save percentage in five games during the competition.

“I love the pressure. I’ve played in a lot of high-pressure games. I love it. It makes me play better. I knew what I had to do. I had to stop the puck to win that gold medal,” he told the Detroit Free Press after winning the gold.

“The whole time in the shoot-out I was thinking in my head, ‘If I let in a goal, we’re losing the gold medal.’ I made sure that wasn’t going to happen. Stopped all five guys.”

NCAA sniper Gaudette tells Canucks he’s going back to school

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Vancouver will have to wait another year before getting Adam Gaudette in the mix.

Gaudette, who enjoyed a breakout campaign at NCAA Northeastern this year with 26 goals and 52 points in 37 games, told News 1130 he’s returning to school for his junior campaign, rather than turn pro.

A fifth-round pick in 2015, Gaudette looks to be a potential draft steal. He led the country in power play goals this year, with 16, and TSN analyst Craig Button called him a “gem.”

Gaudette further upped his stock by being named a finalist for the Walter Brown Award, given annually to the best American-born college player in New England (other candidates include Ottawa prospect Colin White, and Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy).

With Northeastern’s season over, there was much speculation the Canucks would persuade the 20-year-old to go pro.

“More development is best option for me,” Gaudette said as part of his explanation for going back to school. “Put on more weight and get faster and quicker.”

Vancouver is still expected to make a push for prized North Dakota prospect Brock Boeser to go pro at the end of his collegiate season. Boeser was the Canucks’ first-round pick (23rd overall) in ’15.

 

 

 

Flames battle back, then score late to beat Sharks

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Chad Johnson and the Calgary Flames got a victory — after getting a big scare.

A late goal by Dougie Hamilton and a pair of clutch saves by Johnson led the Flames to a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.

Hamilton scored at 17:41 of the third period, while Johnson turned aside a short-handed breakaway by Mikkel Boedker with just 8 seconds left in the game.

“I think everybody was pretty shocked,” Johnson said of Boedker’s late scoring chance. “We’ve got a power play and all of a sudden, 8 seconds left, a guy’s on a breakaway from the blue line. You’ve kind of just try to stay focused and stay with him and thankfully nothing came of it.”

Johnson also stuck out his left pad to stop Boedker from scoring on a penalty shot at 14:33 of the third.

“On the penalty shot, I just tried to stay with him,” said Johnson, who made 25 saves to pick up his 15th win of the season. “I played with him in Phoenix, so I tried to go back in the memory log there and just try to remember what he did. He had two good looks there, but I got lucky and made the saves.”

Hamilton and rookie Matthew Tkachuk both finished with a goal and an assist for the Flames, while Michael Frolik also scored. Mikael Backlund added a pair of assists.

“It’s big,” Hamilton said of beating the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. “I think for us, we’ve just go to try to win every game. … It’s tough to move up the standings, so we’ve got to do it now instead of trying to do it later in the season.”

Read more: The Flames are starting to grasp their new system, and it shows

Brent Burns had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, while Logan Couture also scored.

“Just losing makes it tough,” said Burns, who scored once and set up two others in Edmonton on Tuesday to lead the Sharks to a 5-3 win over the Oilers. “You don’t like to give away points. That’s all that matters.”

Making just his sixth start of the season, San Jose’s Aaron Dell made 25 saves in a losing cause.

“It was pretty cool,” said the 27-year-old Dell, who’s from nearby Airdrie, Alberta, and played two seasons for the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League from 2007-09.

“I dreamed of playing here growing up,” he added. “It was a dream come true. It could’ve been a little better.”

Couture opened the scoring at 9:40 of the first period when he redirected a point shot fired by Burns through Johnson’s legs for a power-play goal.

Frolik, who was in the penalty box serving a slashing penalty when Couture scored, then answered right back for the Flames at 11:22. Thanks to a nice second effort, Frolik shoveled a rebound past Dell to atone for his penalty.

Burns put the Sharks back up by one at 16:06 when his wrist shot from the point found the back of the net behind Johnson, who was screened on the play.

After being outshot 12-8 in the first period, the Flames turned the tables and outshot the Sharks 9-7 in the second. The Flames were rewarded for their hard work during a man advantage when Tkachuk deflected Backlund’s shot past Dell with 31.7 seconds left in the period.