Welcome to the 2021 inaugural edition of the Flyers CHL Prospect Report!
As of writing, it looks like it is all systems go for all three of the leagues that comprise the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Although there has been a massive surge of COVID-19 cases in parts of Western Canada (Alberta in particular), it appears as though this season will run as normal and we should see the completion of a full regular season and playoffs culminating in the crowning of a Memorial Cup Champion in the late spring. Things of course are subject to change, but the resumption of hockey across all levels is a positive development for players, their families, fans, organizations, communities, and everyone else affiliated with the game.
Last season, we covered all three leagues that comprise the CHL (OHL, WHL, and QMJHL) and all of the Flyers prospects playing for teams in those respective leagues.
This season, this space will be following the seasons of the following prospects as they make their way through a regular season:
Elliot Desnoyers (Forward for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL)
Ethan Samson (Defenseman for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL)
Connor McClennon (Forward for the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL)
Brian Zanetti (Defenseman for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL)
Jon-Randall Avon (Forward for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL)
It remains to be seen what the Philadelphia Flyers plan to do with Zayde Wisdom, Tyson Foerster, and Samu Tuomaala. All three are currently assigned to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Wisdom is rehabbing after shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely). With Foerster and Wisdom playing in the AHL last season, there has been talk around the league that CHL eligible players that played in the AHL last season may be granted an exemption that will allow them to stay at the AHL level rather than being returned to their junior club. Although no formal announcement has been made, it would appear that both Foerster and Wisdom may stay with the Phantoms. Samu Tuomaala (2nd Round selection from the 2021 NHL Draft) was recenty sent to the Phantoms to continue training and playing in the club’s pre-season. It is unclear whether or not Tuomaala will stick in Lehigh Valley or if he will be loaned to the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves who hold his junior rights. Tuomaala by all accounts has been impressive thus far with the Phantoms, so it looks as though the Flyers will have to make a decision on where he will spend the season at some point in the near future.
If Foerster (Barrie Colts), Wisdom (Kingston Frontenacs), or Tuomaala (Sudbury Wolves) end up being returned to the OHL, the Flyers CHL Prospect Report will add them to the list and follow their progress this season.
This edition covers the week that was in the CHL from each league’s Opening Weekend which is from Friday October 1st – Saturday October 16th.
WHL (Western Hockey League)
Connor McClennon #94 (RW) – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
- Friday (Oct. 1) was the opening game of the season for the Winnipeg Ice and Alternate Captain Connor McClennon. This game was an away game played against the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Ice opened the scoring in the first period as Connor McClennon scored his 1st of the season at even strength only 6:20 in. Chase Bertholet added to Winnipeg’s lead with a goal at 12:26 to make it 2-0. While Brandon did score a goal via the powerplay to cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:53, Winnipeg made the most of their 15-9 shots on goal advantage to add a third goal in the period as projected 2022 first round pick Conor Geekie opened his account. The second and third periods saw the Ice continue to dominate the play and the scoresheet. Winnipeg outscored Brandon 3-1 again in the second period with goals from Skylar Bruce (2) and Zachary Benson to take a 6-2 lead and widening the shots on goal gap in th period to 22-7. The Ice finished the game outshooting Brandon 49-22 and scored four goals in the final period (Mikey Milne x2, Owen Pederson, Benjamin Zloty) on their way to a convincing 10-2 win. Connor McClennon finished the game with 1 goal, 7 SOG, and a +1 rating. McClennon also picked up a fighting major at 8:02 of the third period after dropping the gloves with Jaxon Dube, and McClennon also was tagged with an unsportmanlike conduct minor for a total of 7 PIMs.
- Saturday (Oct. 2) saw the Winnipeg Ice face the Brandon Wheat Kings for the second half of their home and home series. With Winnipeg on home ice, Conor Geekie opened the scoring only 1:16 in, but Brandon would respond only 1:08 later to even the score at 1-1. The second period saw all the scoring go in Winnipeg’s favor as Owen Pederson scored on the powerplay at 6:19 and at even strength at 8:40. Connor McClennon picked up an assist on Pederson’s 2nd of the game as he tried to deke the goalie to tuck it in on the short side just inside the post but could not as Pederson repeatedly jammed away at the loose puck to put Winnipeg up 3-1. Carson Lambos would put Winnipeg up 4-1 midway through the second period. In the third period, Winnipeg would add another three goals as Skylar Bruce notched his 3rd goal of the season on the powerplay, James Form tallied his first to make it 6-1. McClennon finished the scoring in this game at 7:45 by snapping a shot from the top of the right circle off a short pass from Owen Pederson to help Winnipeg to a 7-1 win. McClennon finished the game with 1 goal and 1 assist for 2 points, 4 SOG, and a +1 rating.
- Wednesday (Oct. 6) had the Winnipeg Ice back in action as they took on Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats at home. In the opening period, Zachary Benson opened the scoring at 13:42 on the powerplay to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead. The second period saw Winnipeg score three unanswered goals as 2022 1st Round prospect Matthew Savoie scored his first goal of the season on the powerplay with Connor McClennon drawing an assist off a shot where the rebound was hammered home from an impossible angle. Other Ice goal scorers were Chase Bertholet and Jakin Smallwood to extend the lead to 4-0 before Regina got a powerplay goal back in the final stages of the frame (with McClennon in the penalty box for hooking) to make it 4-1 after 40 minutes. Both teams scored in the final period with Zachary Benson getting his 3rd of the season for Winnipeg, and Drew Englot getting a powerplay goal to make the final score 5-2 in favor of the Winnipeg Ice. McClennon finished the game with 1 assist, 6 SOG, a +1 rating, and 2 PIMs.
- Saturday night (Oct. 9) had the Winnipeg Ice back in action at home as they took on the Prince Albert Raiders. This game ended up being utterly dominated by the Winnipeg Ice as the final shot total of 34-13 would indicate. Winnipeg jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period as Mikey Milne’s 3rd of the season on the powerplay was sandwiched between Jakin Smallwood’s 2nd and 3rd even strength goals of the season. In the second period, Connor McClennon scored his 3rd goal of the season after taking a pass in the slot and deking a backhand past Raider’s goaltender Ronin Geraghty to make it 4-0 at 1:50. 2:07 later, McClennon scored his 4th goal of the season by snapping a one-timer from the left circle’s faceoff dot for a powerplay goal to make it 5-0. After Conor Geekie scored a powerplay goal of his own at 4:30 of the 3rd period to make it 6-0, McClennon completed the hat-trick at 12:01 of the 3rd period by tucking in a cross ice pass just inside the post to make it 7-0. The Ice would add another powerplay goal (4 for 7 on the game) and win the game convincingly by a score of 8-0. McClennon finished the game with 3 goals, a +2 rating, 3 SOG, and 2 PIMs. McClennon was named the game’s Second Star.
- On Friday night (Oct. 15) the Winnipeg Ice were back in action as they visited the Regina Pats. Winnipeg put their unbeaten record on the line and started the game well jumping out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals by Chase Bertholet (3rd) and Mikey Milne (4th). Regina would cut the deficit to 2-1 by the end of the opening frame. In the second period, Regina would tie the game 2-2 with Cole Carrier nothing his 3rd of the season at 17:55. A tight third period that saw a total of 13 shots combined from both teams (6 for the Ice), saw the go ahead goal only 2:49 in as Skyler Bruce scored his 4th of the season with Winnipeg on the powerplay. Owen Pederson added an empty net goal for his 5th of the season and continued his hot start to continue Winnipeg’s unbeaten run as they defeated the Regina Pats by a score of 4-2. Connor McClennon finished the game with no points, a +1 rating, and 3 SOG.
- Saturday night (Oct. 16) saw the Winnipeg Ice host the Regina Pats for the second half of a home and home. Both sides exchanged goals in a period that saw the Pats outshoot the Ice by a 16-7 margin. 55 seconds in, Cole Muir opened his season account to give Winnipeg the 1-0 lead. There was a burst of goals at the midway point of the first period as Drew Englot tied the game for the Pats at 10:24, Winnipeg retook the 2-1 lead through Matthew Savoie at 13:03, and Regina tied the game 2-2 through Captain Logan Nijhoff at 15:48. In the second period, Winnipeg extended their lead with a powerplay goal by Matthew Savoie at 9:24 and Zachary Benson’s even strength goal only 40 seconds later to make it 4-2. Regina responded 58 seconds later as Cole Dubinsky made it a 4-3 game, but Connor McClennon showcased his hands by deking a defender and beating Pats goaltender Drew Sim for the insurance marker to make it 5-3. Winnipeg dominated the third period and in fact did not allow an opposing shot on goal, as Maximillian Streule extended Winnipeg’s lead at 11:37 and ensuring that the Ice stayed unbeaten with a 6-3 win. McClennon finished the game with 1 goal, a +2 rating, 1 SOG, and 7 PIMs thanks to a fight and an unsportsmanlike minor in the first period.
Ethan Samson #4 (D) – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
- On Saturday night (Oct. 2), the Prince George Cougars and Alternate Captain Ethan Samson had their home opener as they played the Kamloops Blazers. It was the Blazers that took the lead in the opening period despite being outshot 12-9 by the Cougars with goals by Reese Belton and Marko Stacha to lead 2-0. Only 45 seconds into the 2nd period, the Blazers would jump out to a 3-0 lead courtesy of Josh Pillar. The Cougars would roar back to tie the game with three unanswered goals from Hudson Thornton, Kyren Gronick, and Riley Heidt to enter the final period. In the 3rd period, the Blazers would retake the lead at 9:46 but Cougars Captain Jonny Hooker tied the game 4-4 with a powerplay goal at 12:55. Only 2:14 later, Kamloops would score a powerplay goal of their own and retook the lead for the final time and winning an evenly matched contest by a score of 5-4. Samson finished the game with no points, an even rating, and 3 SOG.
- Friday evening (Oct. 8) had the Prince George Cougars back in action as they travelled to Langley, BC to take on the Vancouver Giants. The Cougars opened the scoring at 11:15 of the opening period as Carter MacAdams scored his 1st goal of the season. The Giants responded with three goals in 5:06 just over two minutes later to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission. Prince George scored even strength goals at 1:15 and 7:25 to tie the game 3-3, but the Giant’s retook the lead at 12:31 through Ethan Semeniuk’s 1st goal of the season. In the 3rd period, Vancouver scored twice to open up a 6-3 lead that proved to large to overturn. The Cougars would get a consolation goal at 19:20 as Ethan Samson had his point shot tipped-in by Jonny Hooker to make the final score 6-4 in favor of the Vancouver Giants. Samson finished the game with 1 assist, a -1 rating, and 5 SOG.
- Saturday evening (Oct. 9) had a return match as the Prince George Cougars travelled to Kamloops to take on the Blazers. The first period was tough for the Cougars as they were outshot by a 17-7 margin and trailed Kamloops 2-0 after giving up a powerplay and even strength goals. The second period continued the Blazers run with three straight even strength goals to extend the Blazer lead to 5-0. Prince George finally got on the board at 12:49 of the 2nd period as Ethan Samson began the play with an outlet pass into the neutral zone to Riley Heidt who fed Jonny Hooker into the zone who scored a powerplay goal for his 3rd goal of the season. Samson would end up scoring his first goal of the season at 14:07 while on the powerplay by jumping into the right circle and wristing a shot home to make it 5-2. In the final period, Kamloops would put the game completely out of reach with another two goals to make it 7-2. At this point, frustration took hold as the both teams received fighting majors (Hooker and Josh Pillar, game misconducts, and Ethan Samson got dinged for a 10 minute misconduct penalty. The teams would trade goals towards the end of the period, with Kamloops taking the victory by an 8-3 score. Samson finished the game with 1 goal and 1 assist (2 points), a -3 rating, 1 SOG and 10 PIMs.
- On Saturday night (Oct. 16) the Prince George Cougars hosted the Victoria Royals. After a scoreless first period that saw each side register 5 shots on goal, the Royals opened the scoring at 6:20 of the second period as Tanner Scott gave Victoria a 1-0 lead. Cougars Captain Jonny Hooker tied the game 1-1 at 14:19 off a nice slapper from beyond the left circle. The third period saw Prince George extend their lead as Riley Heidt scored his 2nd of the season at 15:52, and the Cougars would get a fortunate bounce with the Royals net empty as Fischer O’Brien ensured that the Cougars would come away with a 3-1 victory. Both sides were unable to capitalize on the powerplay going a combined 0 for 13 with the man advantage. Ethan Samson finished the game with no points, a +1 rating, 4 SOG, and 4 PIMs (2 for high-sticking and 2 for delay of game).
QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
Elliot Desnoyers #91 (C) – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Friday (Oct. 8) saw the Halifax Mooseheads played their third game of the season visiting the Charlottetown Islanders. Elliot Desnoyers made his season debut as he returned to Halifax following his participation at Flyers Rookie Camp and Training Camp. After Desnoyers nearly helped Halifax take a lead in the 1st period, it was the Islanders that struck first through Patrick Guay at 12:08. Desnoyers would not be denied on his return to the Mooseheads as he scored his 1st goal of the campaign to tie the game 1-1. Desnoyers pressured the pointman in the Mooseheads zone, poked the puck loose and darted up the ice taking a return pass to go in all alone. Although his initial shot was stopped with the puck rolling, Desnoyers followed through to slam home the rebound. After 10 shots apiece in the opening period, Charlottetown would hinder the Mooseheads for the remainder of the game with Halifax only getting another 7 SOG in the contest. Charlottetown would score twice in the middle frame to take a 3-1 lead. They would add another in the third period to take the game by a score of 4-1. Desnoyers finished the game with 1 goal, a +1 rating, and 2 SOG. Desnoyers also picked up a fighting major at 8:20 of the second period, an instigator penalty, and a 10-minute misconduct.
- Saturday night (Oct. 9) saw the return match of the home and home set between the Charlottetown Islanders and the host Halifax Mooseheads. After a frustrating final two periods the night before, tonight’s contest turned out to be a much more even affair with both sides registering 32 SOG. After a scoreless opening period, David Lafrance scored his 1st of the season at 4:19 of the second period to give the Mooseheads the lead. Halifax would have to wait until 17:31 of the third period to get the insurance goal that they needed as Robert Orr tallied his 1st goal to seal a 2-0 victory for Halifax. Brady James in the Mooseheads goal stopped all 32 shots he faced, and Elliot Desnoyers was scoreless in this game with 1 SOG and 2 PIMs after getting called for boarding at 6:41 of the opening period.
- On Friday night (Oct. 15) the Halifax Mooseheads hosted the Shawinigan Cataractes. Shawinigan opened the scoring through Xavier Bourgault’s 3rd of the season at 5:39 while on a powerplay. By the end of the period, the Mooseheads would take a 2-1 lead as the identical stat line of Jordan Dumas (Desnoyers, L’Heureux) struck twice to take the lead. Both primary assists by Elliot Desnoyers were subject to fortunate bounces, but they still count and helped Halifax to the lead. In the second period, Desnoyers would get a secondary assist on Zachary L’Heureux’s 1st goal of the season only 50 seconds in while on the man advantage. Senna Peeters would extend the Halifax lead to 4-1 after 40 minutes. Shawinigan would strike twice on the powerplay to cut the lead to 4-3, but Desnoyers would score his 2nd of the season by converting a 3 on 1 to make it a 5-3 game. Shawinigan would make it a 5-4 game, but Desnoyers would register his 4th assist of the game as Zack Jones scored in the empty net to give Halifax a 6-4 win. Desnoyers was the game’s Second Star and finished with 1 goal (GWG) and 4 assists for 5 points, a +4 rating, and 7 SOG.
OHL (Ontario Hockey League)
Jon-Randall Avon #10 (C) – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Brian Zanetti #9 (D) – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
- The Peterborough Petes got their season underway on Thursday evening (Oct. 7) as they visited the North Bay Battalion. 52 seconds into the game, both Flyers prospects figured into the scoring as Brian Zanetti registered a secondary assist on the breakaway goal scored by J.R. Avon to give the Petes an early 1-0 lead. The opening period was a wild affair with both teams combining for 8 goals on 24 shots! North Bay responded with three consecutive goals to take a 3-1 lead, before Tucker Robertson scored his 1st of the season for the Petes to cut the lead to 3-2. The Battalion regained their two-goal advantage with a powerplay goal to make it 4-2. The Petes would tie the game 4-4 by the end of the period with powerplay goals themselves. Both Flyers prospects registered assists on Emmett Sproule’s powerplay goal to make it 4-3 (Avon with the primary assist and Zanetti with the secondary assist), while Sam Alfano tied the game at 18:13. Shockingly, no goals were scored in the second period. North Bay pulled away in the final period with 3 goals (1 on the powerplay and 1 in an empty net) to hand Peterborough a 7-4 loss. Avon finished the game with 1 goal and 1 assist for 2 points, a -3 rating, and 2 SOG. He also struggled at the faceoff circle only winning 6 of 20 faceoffs. Zanetti finished the contest with 2 assists, a -1 rating, and 2 SOG.
- Friday night (Oct. 8) had the Peterborough Petes back in action as they travelled to Sudbury to take on the Wolves. The Petes had a poor start to this game once again, as Sudbury’s Liam Ross scored two goals in 2:37 to take a 2-0 lead. The Petes would get one back via the man advantage as Samuel Mayer scored his 1st of the season to make it a 2-1 game. Brian Zanetti was guilty of poor communication as he completely miffed on a pass from his defense partner in his own zone leading to Sudbury’s third goal of the period and extending their lead to 3-1. The Wolves pounced again only 33 seconds into the middle period to extend their lead, but Emmett Sproule scored his 2nd of the season to cut the lead to 4-2 at 6:06. J.R. Avon made it 4-3 by holding the puck on a 2 on 1 and roofing a wrist shot past Wolves goaltender Mitchell Weeks at 10:06. Despite a competitive third period, it was the Wolves who scored twice on the powerplay to hand the Petes a 6-3 loss. J.R. Avon finished the game with 1 goal, a -1 rating, and 2 SOG. He struggled once again at the faceoff circle winning 9 of 21 draws. Brian Zanetti finished this game with no points, a -1 rating, and 1 SOG.
- Peterborough was back in action on Thursday night (Oct. 14) as they had their home opener against the Sudbury Wolves. For the third consecutive game, the Petes opponents scored first as Sudbury’s Evan Konyen put the Wolves up 1-0 in the opening period. In the second period, both teams combined for 5 goals in alternating fashion. The Petes tied the game 1-1 only 22 seconds in through Tucker Robertson’s 2nd of the season. After Sudbury regained the lead, Keegan McMullen scored a shorthanded goal for Peterborough to even up the game at 2-2. With Sudbury once again taking the 3-2 lead, the Petes evened the score once again at 3-3 with Nick Lardis scoring his 1st goal of the season at 14:49. Playing at home may have been the difference in this game, as the Petes would score twice in the third period to win their first game of the season 5-3. J.R. Avon registered a secondary assist with the Petes on a 5-on-3 powerplay to give the Petes a 4-3 lead. Avon also got an assist on the final goal of the game as Kaspars Ziemins iced the game with an empty netter. J.R. Avon finished the game with 2 assists, a -1 rating, and 2 shots on goal. He also won 14 of 20 faceoffs. Brian Zanetti ended the contest with no points, an even rating, 2 SOG, and 2 PIMs as he was assessed a cross-checking minor penalty at 8:02 of the second period.
- The Peterborough Petes hosted Shane Wright and the Kingston Frontenacs on Saturday night (Oct. 16). Both teams were scoreless in the opening period as Kingston outshot the Petes 10-6. In the second period, Peterborough opened the scoring as Samuel Mayer notched his 2nd of the season at 4:51 to give the Petes a 1-0 lead. They held that lead going into the third period, but the Frontenacs tied the game at even strength through Matthew Soto at 3:54. The Petes committed three penalties in the final frame (including a double minor for high sticking) that ultimately led to their downfall. Kingston scored powerplay goals at 7:12 and 18:39 while holding the Petes to only 4 shots in the period on their way to a 3-1 win. J.R. Avon was held pointless, had an even rating, and 1 SOG. He won 14 of 22 faceoffs. Brian Zanetti was also held without a point, had an even rating, and registered 4 SOG.
Hope you enjoyed this reboot edition of The Flyers CHL Prospect Report.
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