The puck has dropped on the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League season, with a bevy of first-year talents already making immediate impacts:
He shoots, he scores
An impressive 19 players found the back of the net in their debut performance, including nine players who took it to the next level in scoring on their first shot on goal. Leading the way was Guelph Storm rookie Danny Zhilkin who potted his first career marker only 90 seconds into Friday’s contest versus the Ottawa 67’s.
Also scoring on their first career shot on goal were forwards Marc Boudreau (Soo Greyhounds), Thomas Belgarde (Chicoutimi Sagueneens), Valentin Demchenko (Baie-Comeau Drakkar), Brett Harrison (Oshawa Generals), Wyatt Johnston (Windsor Spitfires), Stepan Machacek (Owen Sound Attack), Adam Raska (Rimouski Oceanic), and defenceman Hunter Skinner (London Knights).
One wasn’t enough for some as 13 players picked up multiple points in their CHL debut, including Skinner and Quebec Remparts forward James Malatesta, who each scored twice in their first outing. Malatesta exploded out the gates in Victoriaville on Friday night making the most of his first shift. The seventh round pick in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft fired the game’s first shot on goal just 13 seconds into the frame, then capitalized at the 24 second mark to set a league record for fastest goal scored by a 16-year-old to pace the Remparts to a 5-4 shootout victory over the Tigres.
In London, one of Skinner’s two tallies also included the game-opening goal. The 18-year-old New York Rangers prospect then added another marker in the final frame before the top ranked Knights ultimately fell short in their comeback bid against the Peterborough Petes.
Little time was needed for a handful of import players to adapt to new surroundings as 10 newcomers got on the scoresheet in their first game, including six with a goal and five who tallied more than one point. Across the board, the top overall debut performance came from Portland Winterhawks right-wing Simon Knak, as the Swiss-born NHL Draft prospect picked up one goal and two assists in a 6-1 season-opening win over the Tri-City Americans.
While Knak led the way with three points, four others picked up a pair of helpers, including left-wing Jan Cikhart (Tri-City Americans) and defencemen Jonas Brondberg (Portland Winterhawks), Ruben Rafkin (Windsor Spitfires), and Ilya Solovyov (Saginaw Spirit).
Young talent shines
While standing out as a rookie is impressive enough, doing so as a 16-year-old only adds to the fact as 11 players born in 2003 either scored or notched two assists in their debut. That group is headlined by Malatesta’s two-goal performance, but also includes forwards Brett Harrison (Oshawa Generals) and Justin Robidas (Val-d’Or Foreurs), who both recorded one goal and one assist, while right-wing Ethan Burroughs (Owen Sound Attack) registered two assists.
Of the 11 players, seven were selected in the opening round of the 2019 regional drafts, including Robidas (2nd, Val-d’Or Foreurs), Connor Lockhart (3rd, Erie Otters), Wyatt Johnston (6th, Windsor Spitfires), Ryan Winterton (8th, Hamilton Bulldogs), Francesco Pinelli (13th, Kitchener Rangers), Danny Zhilkin (14th, Guelph Storm), and Harrison (16th, Oshawa Generals).
Between the pipes
Top-notch rookie performances also came in the blue paint with five goaltenders earning their first career victories in their first career starts headlined by 17-year-old netminder Tucker Tynan (Niagara IceDogs). With his club playing in a back-to-back, Tynan backstopped the squad to a 3-1 Friday night victory turning aside 38 of 39 shots en route to his first career victory versus the Mississauga Steelheads.
Fellow 17-year-old 2018 OHL Priority Selection pick Aidan Campbell (Erie Otters) was also victorious in his debut, as were 18-year-old 2019 CHL Import Draft picks such as Vancouver Canucks prospect Arturs Silovs (Barrie Colts), Los Angeles Kings prospect Lukas Parik (Spokane Chiefs), and Samuel Hlavaj (Sherbrooke Phoenix).
Immediate Impacts Summary
(RW) Simon Knak (Portland Winterhawks) – 1 goal, 2 assists^
(C) James Malatesta (Quebec Remparts) – 2 goals*
(D) Hunter Skinner (London Knights) – 2 goals
(C) Brett Harrison (Oshawa Generals) – 1 goal, 1 assist*
(C) Justin Robidas (Val-d’Or Foreurs) – 1 goal, 1 assist*
(LW) Egor Afanasyev (Windsor Spitfires) – 2 assists
(D) Jonas Brondberg (Portland Winterhawks) – 2 assists^
(RW) Ethan Burroughs (Owen Sound Attack) – 2 assists*
(LW) Jan Cikhart (Tri-City Americans) – 2 assists^
(C) Tanner Dickinson (Soo Greyhounds) – 2 assists
(D) Kale McCallum (Saint John Sea Dogs) – 2 assists
(D) Ruben Rafkin (Windsor Spitfires) – 2 assists^
(D) Ilya Solovyov (Saginaw Spirit) – 2 assists^
(LW) Thomas Belgarde (Chicoutimi Sagueneens) – 1 goal
(LW) Marc Boudreau (Soo Greyhounds) – 1 goal*
(RW) Valentin Demchenko (Baie-Comeau Drakkar) – 1 goal^
(C) Wyatt Johnston (Windsor Spitfires) – 1 goal*
(D) Landon Kosior (Prince Albert Raiders) – 1 goal
(C) Connor Lockhart (Erie Otters) – 1 goal*
(C) Stepan Machacek (Owen Sound Attack) – 1 goal^
(C) Senna Peeters (Halifax Mooseheads) – 1 goal^
(C) Francesco Pinelli (Kitchener Rangers) – 1 goal*
(C) Vasily Ponomarev (Shawinigan Cataractes) – 1 goal^
(RW) Adam Raska (Rimouski Oceanic) – 1 goal^
(C) Lawson Sherk (Hamilton Bulldogs) – 1 goal*
(C) Ryan Winterton (Hamilton Bulldogs) – 1 goal*
(C) Danny Zhilkin (Guelph Storm) – 1 goal*
(G) Tucker Tynan (Niagara IceDogs) – 1 win, 38 saves, 1.00 GAA, .974 SV%
(G) Arturs Silovs (Barrie Colts) – 1 win, 37 saves, 2.00 GAA, .949 SV%^
(G) Samuel Hlavaj (Sherbrooke Phoenix) – 1 win, 28 wins, 2.01 GAA, .929 SV%^
(G) Lukas Parik (Spokane Chiefs) – 1 win, 31 saves, 3.00 GAA, .912 SV%^
(G) Aidan Campbell (Erie Otters) – 1 win, 19 saves, 5.00 GAA, .792 SV%
^2019 CHL Import Draft Selections
*2003-born CHL Draft Selections