As all Canadian Hockey League fans know, last weekend was the end of the regular season with the final playoff berths being decided as late as Sunday.
There are tight races in all three leagues, but I have my favourites to join the Wheat Kings as they host this year’s Memorial Cup in Brandon, Manitoba.
For starters, I really like the chances of the Drummondville Voltigeurs to win the President’s Cup and represent the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. They’ve won 16 straight behind the incredible goaltending of Jake Allen. Although he did not look strong in the World Junior Championship final for Canada, Allen is arguably still the best goaltender in Canadian junior hockey today.
One of the strongest teams in Canada since the Christmas break, the Barrie Colts have run away with the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. They’ve got lots of firepower in Luke Pither (36 G, 58 A), Alex Hutchings (47 G, 34 A) and Bryan Cameron (53 G, 25 A) and a solid team dynamic that has made them into a consistently competitive team.
The Calgary Hitmen combine the best qualities of the Voltigeurs and the Colts – like Drummondville they’re the hottest team in the WHL and like Barrie they’ve got the best record in their league. In fact, it’s thanks to their 13-game points streak that they’ve been able to vault to the top of their standings.
Calgary will also have the benefit of the single best forward in the post-season: Brandon Kozun (32 G, 75A), Kozun has lit up the WHL to edge out Jordan Eberle for the Bob Clarke Trophy as the league’s leading scorer.
Friday, March 12 2010
QMJHL – Poulin has 26 saves as Tigres blank Lewiston
Goalies ruled the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Friday night.
Kevin Poulin turned aside 26 shots as the Victoriaville Tigres stormed past the Lewiston Maineiacs 5-0 in QMJHL action. (See more...)
OHL – Lindsay, Cuma and Nesbit lead 67’s past Generals
With just one more weekend left in the regular season, the Ottawa 67's are gearing up for the playoffs.
Cody Lindsay, Tyler Cuma and Thomas Nesbit scored third-period goals for the Ottawa 67's as they netted a 4-3 victory over the Oshawa Generals in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night. (See more...)
WHL – Wudrick strikes twice as Rockets down Giants
The Kelowna Rockets spoiled the coming home party for the Vancouver Giants Friday night.
Geordie Wudrick scored twice for the Rockets as they took a 4-3 game over the Giants in Western Hockey League action. (See more...)
Saturday, March 13 2010
WHL – Silvertips in a position to take conference
The Everett Silvertips put themselves in position to claim the Western Hockey League's U.S. Division title and the Western Conference's top seed Saturday night.
Thomas Heemskerk made 25 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as the Silvertips blanked the Chilliwack Bruins 5-0 in WHL action Saturday night. (See more...)
Sunday, March 14 2010
QMJHL – Voltigeurs pound on Maineiacs
Philippe Lefebvre and Jake Allen kept the Drummondville Voltigeurs white hot entering the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Lefebvre had a hat trick and an assist while Allen made 15 saves as the Voltigeurs blasted the Lewiston Maineiacs 7-0 in QMJHL action Sunday night. (See more...)
OHL – Nesbitt the OT hero as 67’s outlast Sudbury
The Ottawa 67's entered the Ontario Hockey League post-season in fine fashion Sunday night.
Thomas Nesbitt scored 2:46 into overtime as Ottawa eked out a 3-2 win over the Sudbury Wolves in OHL action. (See more...)
Friday Jan. 29, 2010
QMJHL – Retooled Wildcats win 12th game in a row
“The Moncton Wildcats continue to thrive after they retooled at the trade deadline.
Daniel Pettersson had back-to-back power-play goals as Moncton doubled the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 6-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.” (Read more...)
OHL – Cameron has hat trick as Colts blank Majors
“Bryan Cameron and the Barrie Colts continue to dominate Ontario Hockey League's Central Division.
Bryan Cameron scored three goals and Mavric Parks posted his second shutout of the season as the Barrie Colts triumphed over the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 4-0 Friday night.” (Read more...)
WHL – Silvertips down Winterhawks for 13th straight win
“Simply put, the Everett Silvertips haven't lost since 2009.
Zack Dailey scored twice, including the game-winner midway through the third period, as the Everett Silvertips downed the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in Western Hockey League action Friday night." (Read more...)
Saturday, Jan. 30 2010
QMJHL – Huberdeau has career night, Saint John pounds Val-d’Or
“Jonathan Huberdeau had the biggest game of his junior career Saturday night.
The 16-year-old forward scored three goals and set up two as the Saint John Sea Dogs crushed the Val-d'Or Foreurs 11-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.” (Read more...)
OHL – Jenks and McRae lead way as Whalers down Knights
“Captain AJ Jenks and Phil McRae were instrumental Saturday as the Plymouth Whalers continue to roll.
Jenks' goal and two assists led the Whalers to a convincing 6-1 win over the London Knights in Ontario Hockey League play.” (Read more...)
WHL: Hulak has three points as Blades down Broncos
“The Saskatoon Blades and Derek Hulak made it look easy Saturday night.
The Saskatoon Blades, led by a three-point outing from Hulak, skated to a 7-4 win over the Swift Current Broncos in Western Hockey League action.” (Read more...)
Sunday, Jan. 31 2010
QMJHL – Acadie-Bathurst edges Val-d’Or in shootout
“Julien Tremblay and Bryce Milson wanted to see the Acadie-Bathurst Titan's slide come to an end.
Tremblay and Milson scored in the shootout as Acadie-Bathurst edged the Val-d'Or Foreurs 6-5 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.” (Read more...)
OHL – Shugg scores twice as Windsor Spitfires down Sarnia
“Justin Shugg helped push the Windsor Spitfires into the post-season Sunday afternoon.
Shugg scored twice as the Windsor Spitfires defeated the Sarnia Sting 4-1 in Ontario Hockey League play.” (Read more...)
The playoff pictures in the Canadian Hockey League really started to take shape last week.
In the Ontario Hockey League the Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires both clinched spots. As last year’s Memorial Cup champions the Spitfires have been favourites all year, but they’ve been slowed by injuries and suspensions to key players like Adam Henrique and Zack Kassian. Of course, the fact that their top line played for Team Canada in the World Juniors briefly mellowed their offence as well.
Those aren’t the only teams in the OHL though. The Ottawa 67’s, Plymouth Whalers, London Knights and Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors have looked pretty strong recently and should play their way into the postseason.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is similarly set, with the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats the early favourites to win the President’s Cup. After Saint John’s historic 22-game win streak, the Sea Dogs have settled into a competitive rhythm. Now it’s Moncton that’s on a tear, winning 12 in a row, trying to play catch up to their consistent Atlantic division rivals.
The Central Division is where the action happens in the QMJHL, with the Victoriaville Tigres and Drummondville Voltigeurs side-by-side at the top of the table. Both are solid teams who’ve won six of their last 10 games, but with Drummondville earning two consecutive wins and Victoriaville dropping three straight, the division might sort itself out soon.
Like the Moncton Wildcats, the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips have been clawing their way to the top of the standings in 2010. In fact, they haven’t lost since 2009 having strung together 14 consecutive wins. However, they’re still trailing the Vancouver Giants and league-best Tri-City Americans in the West Conference standings.
In the East, the Saskatoon Blades, Medicine Hat Tigers and Brandon Wheat Kings have all established themselves as the class of the Conference.
All three will have to keep up the pace though, as the Kootenay Ice have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 and the Calgary Hitmen shutout Tri-City 3-0 on Sunday.