Although the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has been playing for weeks, this past weekend was the real start of the junior hockey season in Canada.
The Ontario Hockey League had two games on Thursday night and then nine games Friday, with every team playing by Saturday. The Western Hockey League started with a full slate on Friday.
In short, business picked up. That also means, of course, that it's time for the triumphant return of My Weekend in Junior Hockey.
To keep things interesting for my readers I tried to avoid some of the clichés of the first weekend of a sports season. Phrases like “home opener”, “kicked off” and “young season” were routinely eliminated.
Instead there was a variety of stories that looked at the struggles of Canadian Hockey League rosters as they try to fill the gaps left by players departing for the National Hockey League, or the epic amount of travel time when prospects are sent back to junior from pro training camps.
I also took a look the hottest start of the QMJHL season and the emergence of a new star in the East.
All in all, I’m pretty proud of these stories. They’re tight and have a a fairly wide range of topics beyond the final score. Hopefully every weekend this season goes so well.
Friday, Sept. 24 2010
QMJHL - Audy-Marchessault scores six points in Remparts’ rout
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault's coming out party isn't over just yet.
Audy-Marchessault had a hat trick and a six-point night as the Quebec Remparts trounced the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 12-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL – Jared Knight the hero as Knights top Whalers in shootout
Jared Knight had to take the long way to get to the game, but he still wound up the hero Friday night.
The aptly-named Knight had the shootout winner as the London Knights scratched out a 3-2 win over the Plymouth Whalers in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL – Gallagher’s five-point night lifts Giants over Bruins
Brendan Gallagher scored twice and had three assists as the Vancouver Giants posted a 9-4 win over the Chilliwack Bruins in Western Hockey League play Friday night.
Jordan Martinook's first of the season came with less than three minutes remaining in the second. The 18-year-old forward tipped Neil Manning's point shot past Bruins starter Lucas Gore at the 17:41 mark of the second period.
Saturday, Sept. 25 2010
QMJHL – Voltigeurs outlast Sea Dogs to remain undefeated
The Drummondville Voltigeurs needed extra time to hold onto their perfect record.
Ondrej Palat and Alexandre Comtois scored in the shootout as Drummondville rallied to a 7-6 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
OHL – Grubauer shuts out former team as Kingston tops Bulls
Philip Grubauer made an impression on his current and former team Saturday night.
Grubauer had a successful return to Belleville as the Kingston Frontenacs blanked the Bulls 3-0 in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL – T’Birds take advantage of Winterhawks’ depleted roster
The first month of junior hockey is always rough on rosters as many players are trying out with NHL clubs, and the Portland Winterhawks are no different.
Burke Gallimore scored twice to help the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 win over the Winterhawks in Western Hockey League play Saturday night.
Sunday, Sept. 26 2010
QMJHL – Lefrancois strong as Oceanic earn win over Mooseheads
Skill met savagery as the Rimouski Oceanic won a physical game Sunday afternoon.
Felix Lefrancois scored twice and added an assist as the Oceanic cruised to a 9-2 win over the Halifax Mooseheads in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL – Spitfires soar in rematch of final, beat Barrie Colts
The Windsor Spitfires soared in a rematch of last season's Ontario Hockey League final.
Alexander Khokhlachev and Stephen Johnson both scored twice to pace the Windsor Spitfires to a 7-5 win over the Barrie Colts on Sunday afternoon.
WHL – Wheat Kings take down Pats, Americans beat Thunderbirds
REGINA -- Mark Stone and Brenden Walker both scored and had an assist to lead the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 3-1 victory over the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League Sunday afternoon.
Paul Ciarelli also scored for the Brandon (2-0-0) with his first of the year.
There’s only one more week of the Canadian Hockey League’s regular season, and it’s do-or-die time for several teams.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has 14 of its 16 playoff berths decided, with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Lewiston Maineiacs and Baie-Comeau Drakkar vying for the two final spots.
With just 45 points and three games left in their season, the Drakkar seem like the obvious candidate to be on the outside looking in. They could still make it but they will need to reel off some wins.
The Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference is all settled, but in the East there are still three post-season spots available.
The Belleville Bulls are already mathematically eliminated, with one of the Peterborough Petes, Niagara IceDogs, Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals joining them within the next seven days.
The Western Hockey League has the clearest picture of who is in and who is out. The Western Conference has been sorted out for weeks, while the East has only one seed still available.
The Swift Current Broncos have the inside edge with 73 points, put the Prince Albert Raiders (67) and the Regina Pats (65) are within spitting distance. All three teams have played 69 games.
By the time I check in for my shift on Friday, I expect there will be even more teams eliminated from playoff contention. It’s been a good, tight race all season, with hotly contested matches in every CHL league.
Friday, Mar. 5th 2010
QMJHL – Wildcats nip Saint John in shootout
The Moncton Wildcats delayed celebrations in Saint John for at least one more game.
Kelsey Tessier and Nicolas Deschamps scored in the shootout as the Wildcats disappointed the Sea Dogs 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night. (See more...)
OHL – Cowick, Toffoli and Lindsay lead 67’s past Colts
The Ottawa 67's got a big win off of their Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference rivals Friday night.
Corey Cowick, Tyler Toffoli and Cody Lindsay each had a goal and an assist as Ottawa knocked off the Barrie Colts 6-3. (See more...)
WHL – Weal scores twice as Pats hold off Hurricanes
Jordan Weal and the Regina Pats bested their cellar-mates Friday night.
Weal scored twice to help Regina double the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-2 in Western Hockey League play. (See more...)
Saturday, Mar. 6th 2010
QMJHL – Piche, Voltigeurs roll to 7-0 win over Val-d’Or
The Drummondville Voltigeurs continue to have one of the stingiest defences in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Frederic Piche earned the first shutout of his QMJHL career as Drummondville blasted the Val-d'Or Foreurs 7-0 Saturday night. (See more...)
OHL – Kadri stars for Knights in win over Sting
The London Knights are gaining some momentum as the Ontario Hockey League's regular season winds down.
Toronto Maple Leaf prospect Nazem Kadri scored in the shootout as London dumped the Sarnia Sting 4-3 in OHL action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Ross leads Portland past Tri-City
The Kelowna Rockets only needed Adam Brown and Tyson Barrie Saturday night.
Brown made 26 saves for the Rockets, earning his sixth shutout of the season, as Kelowna beat the Vancouver Giants 3-0 in Western Hockey League action. (See more...)
Sunday, Mar. 7th 2010
QMJHL – Seas Dogs clinch best record with win over Mooseheads
The Saint John Sea Dogs locked up home ice advantage for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs on Sunday afternoon.
Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists as Saint John beat the Halifax Mooseheads 5-2 in QMJHL action. (See more...)
OHL – Fowler stars for Spitfires in shutout of Greyhounds
Cam Fowler and Phillip Grubauer led the Windsor Spitfires as a familiar face returned to the line-up.
Fowler scored twice and Grubauer made 20 saves as the Windsor Spitfires defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4-0 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon. (See more...)
There were some big match-ups this weekend in the Canadian Hockey League.
The first, and the one I was most excited about, was Saturday night’s main event in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats had to go to the shootout to decide who the winner would be.
Saint John prevailed 5-4, with Michael Kirkpatrick leading the way with a goal and two assists. He might not be the biggest name on the Sea Dogs roster, but Kirkpatrick been a consistent scorer all season and as an alternate captain is clearly revered in Saint John’s locker room.
Also, you’ll be happy to note that I refrained from calling this game the Battle of New Brunswick. Cliché dodged!
That same night the Western Hockey League saw an even closer rivalry, as the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings locked horns. Again, the game went to extra time with Saskatoon edging Brandon 4-3 in overtime.
With the win the Blades moved into first place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, even though the Wheat Kings have picked up points in their last eight games. And, as predicted in this very space the Calgary Hitmen have moved into second in the Conference.
The other notable game this weekend was also in the WHL, with the Prince George Cougars hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night. In the battle of the two worst records in the league, Prince George came out on top 4-1, snapping their 13-game losing streak.
Never fear Edmonton hockey fans, the Oil Kings won the rubber match on Saturday, taming the Cougars 5-2.
Sunday was a pretty light day with four games in the Ontario Hockey League and just one in the QMJHL. Most significantly, Adam Comrie kept the Guelph Storm's playoff hopes alive with goals that sparked a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67's.
Apparently there was some sort of football game that evening that the hockey leagues didn't want to compete against.
Friday Feb. 5 2010
QMJHL – Victoriaville tops Drummondville to jump in standings
The Victoriaville Tigres struck a blow in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's standings Friday night.
Brandon Hynes and Emmanuel Boudreau both had a goal and an assist as the Tigres downed the Drummondville Voltigeurs 5-2 in QMJHL action. (See more...)
OHL - Lindsay’s big night lifts Ottawa to win over Belleville
Cody Lindsay did it at both ends of the ice Friday night.
Lindsay had two goals and an assist as the Ottawa 67's defeated the Belleville Bulls 3-2 in the Ontario Hockey League. (See more...)
WHL – Cougars drop Oil Kings to end 13-game slide
All the Prince George Cougars needed was a visit from the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Prince George snapped a 13-game losing streak Friday with a decisive 4-1 win over Edmonton in Western Hockey League play Friday night. (See more...)
Saturday, Feb. 6 2010
QMJHL - Saint John nips Moncton in shootout
The two best teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League needed the shootout to decide a winner on Saturday night.
Mike Hoffman, Tomas Jurco and Jonathan Huberdeau all scored in the shootout as the Saint John Sea Dogs tamed the Moncton Wildcats 5-4. (See more...)
OHL - McKegg scores twice as Otters eke out win over Spirit
It's been a big week for Greg McKegg.
McKegg scored twice and added an assist as the Erie Otters eked out a 4-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Broncos post emphatic shutout over Rebels
The Swift Current Broncos made a statement with their win Saturday night.
Morgan Clark made 37 saves as the Broncos posted their first shutout of the season, a 6-0 win over the Red Deer Rebels in Western Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)
Sunday, Feb. 7 2010
OHL – Comrie scores twice as Guelph keeps playoff hopes alive
Defenceman Adam Comrie stepped up in front of his hometown crowd to keep his Guelph Storm in the playoff picture.
Comrie scored twice to lift Guelph to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67's in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon. (See more...)
As I’ve mentioned on my bio page, I work at the Canadian Press as a Junior Hockey Editorial Assistant. (The Junior denotes the level of play, not my position.) It’s a really fun job that lets me pursue two of my loves: writing and following sports.
It’s also nice because at parties people get all excited about what they assume is an exciting, glamorous job.
Inevitably, they ask me how it all works. I figured I would break it down for my readers.
Every Friday and Saturday night I go to CP’s newsroom for about 9 p.m., just as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s games are wrapping up.
Covering the QMJHL is very straight forward.
All I need to do is create a “round-up” from their website’s detailed game sheets. As long as no games are postponed or go to a shoot out, I can do this in an hour to an hour and a half. Here’s one I wrote on Jan. 3: QMJHL: Martel wins 222ndgame as Sagueneens beat Remparts.
As I’m finishing my QMJHL writing results from the Ontario Hockey League will begin to trickle in.
For most OHL games, CP has freelance writers on location that we call “stringers”. Stringers email in copy that I read over, format, and then put on the wire as a 150-400 word story. We also receive copy from member papers. For example, we often get material on the Kingston Frontenacs from the Kingston Whig-Standard.
Once all the stringer and members have sent in their work, I write separates for any games that didn’t have a reporter on location. Like my QMJHL round-up, I rely on the OHL’s website for my information.
When that’s all done I cobble all the OHL stories together as a round-up. Here’s an OHL overview from Jan. 3: OHL: Bulls rally from early deficit to defeat Generals.
By this point it’s around midnight and some Western Hockey League games will be done.
The WHL is tricky because it is spread over three time zones, so I have to keep my eye on the scores page of their website constantly. Often times there will be a game in Brandon, Man., or some early games in Regina or Saskatoon that will require my attention before I’m even done the OHL.
Covering the WHL ramps-up the amount of work I have to do.
Again, I rely on stringers and members to supply me with copy for separates, and I bolt it all together to make a round-up. Here’s a lengthy one from Jan. 2: WHL: Giants win chippy game against Chiefs.
An extra wrinkle in my WHL work is that I also have to create box scores for “agate”.
What’s agate? I’m glad you asked.
Agate is defined by Wikipedia as “a unit of typographical measure. It is 5.5 typographical points, or about 1/14 of an inch. [...]. An agate font was commonly used to display statistical data or legal notices in newspapers. It is considered the smallest point size that can be printed on newsprint, and then read legibly.”
In other words, when you flip to the back of your sports section and look at all the box scores and standings, you are looking at agate. The standings of all three leagues are updated in agate, but the WHL has individual box scores done in agate as well.
The WHL is the most involved of the three leagues in the Canadian Hockey League. It’s got the most teams, the most fans, and therefore requires the most coverage. In small towns like Prince Albert, Sask. or Kennewick, Wash., the WHL is the biggest show in town.
More often than not, the small arenas that host WHL games are sold out.
When all is said and done it is between 2 and 3 a.m. and I have written or edited between 16 and 18 separate game stories and put together three round-ups. That sounds like a lot, but it’s actually not so bad – typically between 2,200 and 4,000 words. The stories and agate appear across Canada, in parts of the United States, as well as on websites like TSN.ca.