The Canadian Hockey League was well represented as the Stanley Cup Playoffs officially opened on August 11 with 265 alumni competing across all 16 teams in Edmonton and Toronto.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Just days after the excitement of the qualifiers, first round action began in the most dramatic of fashions as Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) ended the fourth-longest game in NHL history scoring a fifth overtime goal to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Point would strike again just over a week later with an OT winner to clinch the series.
Not lost in the Game 1 marathon was the incredible display of endurance from Blue Jackets defenceman Seth Jones (Portland Winterhawks) who logged an NHL record 65:06 in time on ice showing many around the hockey world just how valuable the fourth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft can be.
Another superstar from the 2013 NHL Draft, first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) finished the first round tied for the lead in playoff scoring and is currently riding a 10-game point-streak which ties the Colorado Avalanche franchise record.
Contributing to the Avalanche offense is Nazem Kadri (London Knights) who has been especially proficient on the power-play with a league-leading five goals scored with the man advantage.
Despite the first round exit, 2019 CHL grad Nick Suzuki (Guelph Storm) made his mark for the Montreal Canadiens by tying for the team lead in playoff scoring with seven points including goals in consecutive elimination games.
Fellow 2019 CHL grad Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades) also impressed in his playoff debut with the Chicago Blackhawks posting six points including five assists which puts him among the club’s all-time elite to contribute as a teenager.
Another admirable playoff performance cut short came from Tobias Rieder (Kitchener Rangers) who scored three shorthanded goals for the Calgary Flames becoming just the seventh player in NHL history to do so in a single post-season.
Alex Belzile (Rimouski Oceanic) made his NHL debut for Montreal during the post-season and even contributed with his first career point which puts the 28-year-old in a special class of late blooming journeymen.
Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets) did everything he could to help the Flames start strong by scoring three straight game-opening goals which hasn’t happened since 2008.
Sticking with Canadian teams, Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (London Knights) helped set the tone in a first round upset over the defending champion St. Louis Blues with back-to-back two-goal games to open the series.
Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler (Kelowna Rockets) logged his 75th career playoff game which set a new team record on the blue line.
The New York Islanders also pulled off a first round upset over the 2018 champion Washington Capitals stamped by a series-clinching goal by Anthony Beauvillier (Shawinigan Cataractes) who remains clutch in deciding games.
Perhaps the biggest clutch performer during the first round played between-the-pipes as Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips) posted two shutout victories for the Philadelphia Flyers against Montreal. Not only is Hart the youngest goaltender in Flyers history to earn a playoff shutout, he became the second youngest in NHL history to do it back-to-back in playoffs. The two-time CHL Goaltender of the Year also happened to achieve the feat across the ice from another former Goaltender of the Year in Carey Price (Tri-City Americans) which surely made the milestones extra special.
A total of 136 CHL alumni will now be competing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.