Although I take a lot of pride in the writing I have to do as a junior hockey editorial assistant, that’s one of the smaller parts of what I do. Most of my weekend is spent editing the work of other writers.
The vast majority of game stories published by the Canadian Press have been written by reporters on location called stringers. Our junior hockey stringers send their work in to our office in downtown Toronto.
It’s then reviewed, changed (if necessary) and put out on the wire.
From start to finish the process should take approximately 5-10 minutes from the final whistle of a game. The better the stringer, the faster the turnaround.
So what do I look for in my stringers?
Speed – Thanks to the Internet I’ve got a pretty good idea of when the game ended. The longer it takes for a stringer to get the story to me, the more anxious I get. Why? Because if I know the game’s over, so do our readers and clients, and the news business is all about the quick and efficient spreading of information. If we’re not fast, we’re letting our consumer down.
Accuracy – Obviously, all that speed is wasted if there’s a mistake in the story. Having the correct score, players, spelling, even the date (yes, people mess up what day of the week it is) is all crucial. More than anything else, accurate copy is what makes a good stringer. If I have to check every stat on the Internet, you're not doing your job.
Clarity – My biggest pet peeve is when I can’t make heads or tails of what’s happening in the story.
A good stringer will have the final result, every scorer’s name (and how many points they had) and every goaltender’s stats in the first three paragraphs of their story. Basics like the team names, records, the league and the day of the week should be in the first paragraph.
Don’t hide the scorers at the bottom of the piece, or scattered throughout. Get down and dirty as quick as possible.
Simplicity – Straightforward writing goes hand-in-hand with clear writing. Don’t tell me that someone “tallied” or “netted” or “potted” a goal when you haven’t used “scored” yet. Even “Greg McKegg had two goals” sounds better than “McKegg potted two goals”.
A lot of stringers get a case of nerves and over-describe the play. Keeping it simple makes it easier to read and doesn’t clutter the reader’s mind. It also makes it less likely I’ll need to edit your masterpiece.
If you’re ever writing a game story just take your time and go with the simplest descriptions. Let your reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. Your personal style will shine through no matter what you do.
Fortunately for me, my crew of stringers was on fire this weekend and provided me with lots of great, easy to read copy. All of them met those four expectations, and it made my life much easier.
On to the round ups!
Friday, October 29th, 2010
QMJHL: MOSHER EARNS RARE SHUTOUT AS ROCKET BLANK MOOSEHEADS
It turns out that Evan Mosher is something of a late bloomer.
The 20-year-old goaltender made 28 saves as the P.E.I. Rocket blanked the Halifax Mooseheads 3-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL: CIZIKAS POWERS MAJORS OVER KINGSTON
Casey Cizikas had a goal and set up two others Friday to power the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a 5-1 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs in Ontario Hockey League play.
Three minutes after setting Devante Smith-Pelly's opener, the 19-year-old Cizikas scored a short-handed goal to put the Majors up 2-0 with six minutes left in the first.
WHL: WINTERHAWKS BEAT ROCKETS IN NIEDERREITER'S RETURN
It was a rough homecoming for Nino Niederreiter on Friday night.
Brad Ross had the eventual winner as the Portland Winterhawks flew past the Kelowna Rockets 4-2 in a very physical Western Hockey League game.
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
QMJHL: BETY, MOOSEHEADS SURPRISE WILDCATS
Charles Bety and the Halifax Mooseheads are making the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a little more competitive.
Bety had back-to-back goals as the Mooseheads upset the Moncton Wildcats 5-2 on Saturday night.
OHL: KERBASHIAN'S HAT TRICK HELPS SARNIA DOUBLE UP BRAMPTON
Kale Kerbashian saw his teammates reel off three-straight goals and figured he should join in on the fun.
Kerbashian had a hat trick to help the Sarnia Sting beat the visiting Brampton Battalion 6-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.
WHL: KOPER'S SIX POINTS LEADS AS CHIEFS ROCK PATS
The Spokane Chiefs just kept coming on Saturday night.
Levko Koper had two goals and four assists to help Spokane light up the Regina Pats 11-1 in Western Hockey League play.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
QMJHL: CHAMPAGNE IS OVERTIME HERO AS REMPARTS EDGE DRAKKAR
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar were close to a major upset Sunday afternoon, but not close enough.
Joel Champagne scored in overtime as the Quebec Remparts narrowly escaped defeat against Baie-Comeau to pull out the 3-2 win in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SHUGG'S FOUR-POINT GAME IGNITES MAJORS TO WIN OVER SUDBURY
Justin Shugg scored three times and added an assist to guide the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory over the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Doyle had the eventual winner for the Majors (11-2-0), while Casey Cizikas, Jordan Mayer and Gregg Sutch also tallied.
WHL: ELLIOT'S LAST MINUTE GOAL LIFTS BLADES TO WIN OVER HITMEN
Stefan Elliott scored the game-winning goal with 59.1 seconds left in regulation to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen in the only Western Hockey League game Sunday afternoon.
Curtis Hamilton added a empty netter for his second goal of the contest for the Blades (11-4-0), while Darian Dziurzynski and Braeden Johnson also scored.
I'll be talking about this more tomorrow, but I wanted to remind all of you that every Saturday night I write an article on the comings and goings of the National Hockey League's Northeast Division for Hockeyprimetime.com. Follow the block quote to read the piece from two days ago.
The Maple Leafs have been one of the biggest surprises this season. The question is whether or not they can maintain that pace, especially with the Bruins closing in fast. This weekend will go a long way to separating the wheat from the chaff in the Northeast.
This probably goes without saying, but, one of the crucial aspects of journalism is timing. People want their news to be delivered as quickly as possible.
Sports reporters are fortunate because they can guess – usually with some accuracy – when a game is going to end. A baseball game is usually three hours long, hockey two and a half hours, etc.
This is particularly important when covering three leagues across the world’s second largest country, as I do.
See, my junior hockey games end in waves. Thanks to six teams being in the Atlantic time zone, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League starts to wrap up between 8:30 and 9 most nights. The rest of the Q and the entire Ontario Hockey League follow suit between 9:30 and 10.
Out west is a little more complicated as the Western Hockey League stretches across three time zones. Games in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (and often Edmonton) usually finish between 11 and 11:30. British Columbia, Washington and Oregon check in between 12:30 and 1 in the morning.
Obviously, if one of these waves is delayed, they start to crash into each other. If writing the QMJHL round-up takes me past 11 at night, the OHL stories will be late, and so on. Even the WHL can run into another deadline: my ability to stay conscious.
More often than not, the cause of a delay is a slow game. And what is the cause of a lethargic game? More often than not, it’s because of fights.
Think about it: Each fight eats up about two minutes of play time. Between the scrapping itself, picking up all the loose equipment and sorting out penalties, it adds up to about 120 lost seconds that don’t count toward the game’s run time.
Not bad in isolated instances, but if there’s a handful of fights during a game, it can mean tacking on an entire period’s worth of time.
Further, fights often mean more work. I need to investigate if anyone was injured, what the cause was, and if it’s a particularly rough game I have to find a way to describe the melee.
A perfect example of a game that caused massive back up in my shift was Friday night when the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Halifax Mooseheads mixed it up in a fight-filled match.
Fortunately for me, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald’s Willy Palov was in attendance and he forwarded me his game story for inclusion in the nightly QMJHL round up. He saved me a lot of time and added a lot of detail to my story, but even then, some time was eaten up getting in touch with him and then editing his story to suit my needs.
I don’t mean for this to be a commentary on the role of fighting in hockey, I just wanted to share the practical ramifications of when your two favourite hockey teams start throwing down.
BONUS: Here’s a link to Mr. Palov’s original story on the Screaming Eagles 7-2 win over the Mooseheads. You’ll be able to see the different angles we took on the game (his local, mine broader) and also what parts were thanks to his hard work. Also, big ups to CP Sports editor Josh Clipperton who, like all my editors, made my copy much sharper.
Friday, Oct. 23rd 2010
QMJHL: MACDOUGALL, SCREAMING EAGLES WIN OVER MOOSEHEADS
The Nova Scotia rivalry in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League erupted in spectacular fashion Friday.
Taylor MacDougall had a hat trick for Cape Breton as the Screaming Eagles cruised to a physical 7-2 win over the Halifax Mooseheads.
OHL: BRAMPTON AVENGES LOSS WITH VICTORY OVER OTTAWA
The Brampton Battalion went to Ottawa with revenge on their minds Friday night.
Ian Watters had a goal and an assist as the Battalion avenged themselves with a 3-1 win over the 67's in Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL: KETLO SLAMS THE DOOR AS PATS BLANK BRONCOS
Damien Ketlo recorded his first win of the season with a shutout as the Regina Pats blanked the Swift Current Broncos 2-0 in Western Hockey League action Friday night.
Mark Schneider scored the only goal the Pats would need just 54 seconds into the game. It was the defenceman's first of the year with a slap shot from the point.
Saturday, Oct. 24th 2010
QMJHL: FOREURS RUIN MILESTONE NIGHT FOR HUSKIES
It was supposed to be a night of celebration in Rouyn-Noranda, but the Val-d'Or Foreurs had other ideas.
Jonathan Hazen had a hat trick as the Foreurs crushed the Huskies 9-4 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday.
OHL: CARNEVALE LIFTS COLTS TO FIRST HOME WIN OF THE SEASON
Home ice advantage finally meant something for the Barrie Colts on Saturday night.
Taylor Carnevale scored twice as the Colts knocked off the Niagara IceDogs 5-2 in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: FRIESEN BACKSTOPS BRONCOS TO WIN OVER WARRIORS
Mark Friesen posted his eighth win of the season to backstop the Swift Current Broncos to a 3-2 win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Friesen turned aside 33 shots to post the win, and he was beaten for only a single goal in a third period where Moose Jaw held an 11-0 edge in shots.
Sunday, Oct. 25th 2010
QMJHL: ROY WINS 100TH GAME AS TITAN EDGE SCREAMING EAGLES
Goaltender Olivier Roy joined an exclusive club Sunday afternoon.
Roy made 23 saves to lead the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to a 3-2 win against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: NESBITT SCORES SO WINNER AS 67'S TOP GENERALS
Captain Thomas Nesbitt led his Ottawa 67's by example Sunday afternoon.
Nesbitt was the only scorer in the shootout as the 67's were 4-3 winners over the Oshawa Generals in Ontario Hockey League action.
A popular one amongst the hockey fans on staff was: Who would win in a best-of-seven series between an all-time all-star lineup of players from Quebec and the Rest of Canada?
I mean, let’s not kid ourselves. If you pit an all-time Canadian team against an all-time from any other country team it’s a pretty straight forward answer: the guys with the maple leaf on their chest. Seriously, only an all-Soviet/Russian team would avoid the sweep.
But pitting Canadians against Canadiens? That is a tough call. At first glace, you've got to give the advantage to Quebec's goaltenders. Jacques Plante. Patrick Roy. Martin Brodeur. Roberto Luongo. La Belle Provence has a sterling history of producing world-class goalies.
Naturally, defence appears to favour the Rest of Canada. Naming off the National Hockey League's best defencemen of all time reads a lot like the bench of Team ROC.
Up front is where things get tricky. Gretzky against Lemieux. The Rocket versus Stevie Y. It's a dead heat.
The rules are simple:
- Each team gets four lines of forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.
- Any player from the National Hockey League’s history is eligible.
- These theoretical rosters are composed of the players in their primes. Bobby Orr's knees are in perfect shape and Michel Goulet hasn't been concussed.
- It’s Rest-of-Canada versus Quebec, not French Canada versus English Canada. For example, Dion Phaneuf, a Francophone, could theoretically play for Rest-of-Canada, as he’s from Edmonton. Similarly, Doug Harvey is from Montreal so he’d play for Quebec, even if he is maudit anglais.Of course, English against French can be a fun exercize as well, but we’re trying to keep things politically sensitive on this blog.
- No, Brett Hull doesn’t count.
I want to know who you think would win, and why. If you’re feeling ambitious, post your rosters as well.
Here are my picks for the rosters, as well as the winner
C - Wayne Gretzky
Winner: Team Rest-of-Canada in seven games.
With goalies and forward pretty even, the largest disparity is clearly at the blue line. Yes, Bourque and Harvey are two of the best defenders of all time, but they aren’t the best.
Bobby Orr is the best offensive-defenceman of all time and Larry Robinson is the best defensive-defenceman ever. That one-two punch, coupled with the depth of their rearguard corps gives ROC a real advantage.
Rest-of-Canada’s defence is also much bigger than the average forward for Équipe Québec. Although the Richards might be able to slip by the likes of Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy a few times, they’d be exhausted when it comes time to lace ‘em up for Game 7.
Also, ROC's defence would be able to jump up into the attack. Obviously, Orr was capable of scoring just as many points as any forward for Quebec, and Coffey would be able to keep La Belle Provence's defence honest too.
One of the big surprises is that ROC is actually pretty good between the pipes. Yes, the case can be made that one of Roy, Brodeur or Plante are the greatest goaltender of all time - but the same can be said of Sawchuk. Further, Dryden and Hall aren't exactly slouches. Sawchuk, coupled with the reliable defence in front of him, would be more than enough to stop the best that Quebec has to offer.
Up front would still be a dead heat. The Rest-of-Canada couldn't possibly match the flair and play-making ability of Quebec, but with talented and tough forwards like Howe, Gilmour and Recchi bearing down on them on the forecheck, the blue-and-white would feel rushed and pressured on most of their shifts.
There’s a lot to love about hockey, but I think all fans can agree is the unpredicatability of the game.
Hockey, and its befooted cousin lacrosse, is made up of a series of broken plays.
Yes, there are tactics and strategies that teams employ, but every minute of every game is completely different then the last. No lead is safe, and often the game is decided in the span of a few minutes of play.
The video above is a classic – if extreme – example of that unpredictability. What other sport offers a seemingly surefire score, then and incredible last-second tally in the span of 30 seconds? Only hockey.
Junior hockey was all about that kind of crazy drama this weekend, with several big games being decided in a quick burst.
Friday night started with a bang as the Quebec Remparts, the best team in the Canadian Hockey League, won their 10th game of the season with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, the second-best team in the CHL, also had some last second heroics on Friday as Jordan Mayer scored in the last minute of overtime.
Fans of the Calgary Hitmen were treated to the same kind of action on Saturday night when Jaynen Rissling jumped out of the penalty box to corral an outlet pass and put away the winner in overtime.
Finally, back in the QMJHL the Val-d’Or Foreurs reeled off three goals in quick succession to top the Montreal Junior 4-2 on Sunday afternoon.
It’s just another reason to love hockey.
Friday, October 15th 2010
QMJHL: QUEBEC EARNS 10TH WIN BY EDGING SHAWINIGAN
The Quebec Remparts are still the hottest team in Canadian junior hockey.
Alex Wall scored the winner with seconds to spare as Quebec edged the Shawinigan Cataractes 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL: MAYER'S OT MARKER RALLIES MAJORS PAST GREYHOUNDS
A timely power play made all the difference for the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Friday night.
Veteran centre Jordan Mayer scored with the man advantage in the dying seconds of overtime as Mississauga rallied to a 4-3 victory over the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: ROCKETS SPOIL HOWSE'S CAREER MARK WITH WIN OVER CHILLIWACK
The Kelowna Rockets success overshadowed a landmark for Ryan Howse of the Chilliwack Bruins Friday night.
Colton Sissons' goal with 30 seconds left in the second period was the difference maker as the Rockets toppled the Bruins 4-3 in Western Hockey League action.
Saturday, October 16th 2010
QMJHL: MAINEIACS PREVAIL OVER RETOOLED DRAKKAR
Some personnel changes weren't enough to right the Baie-Comeau Drakkar's ship.
Jess Tanguy had back-to-back goals, including the eventual winner Saturday, as the Lewiston Maineiacs sank the Drakkar 4-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play.
OHL: CZARNIK, NOESEN LEAD PLYMOUTH PAST WINDSOR
Robbie Czarnik had a goal and an assist to lead the Plymouth Whalers past the Windsor Spitfires 4-1 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.
"(Rickard) Rakell got in hard on the forecheck," Czarnik said about his goal. "He got to the puck before everybody else and got it to me and I snuck it by (Jack) Campbell."
WHL: RISSLING OT HERO AS HITMEN EKE OUT WIN OVER THUNDERBIRDS
Jaynen Rissling went from goat to great in a two-minute span Saturday night.
Rissling was the overtime hero by scoring an unassisted power-play goal to lift the Calgary Hitmen to a 3-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Western Hockey League action.
Sunday, October 17th 2010
QMJHL: FOREURS RAPID-FIRE ATTACK DOWN JUNIOR
It took less than two minutes for the Val-d'Or Foreurs to drop their division rivals Sunday afternoon.
Guillaume Naud had back-to-back markers, including the winner, as the Foreurs scored three quick goals in a 4-2 win over the Montreal Junior in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: NESBITT, MRAZEK STAR AS OTTAWA ROLLS PAST BRAMPTON
Thomas Nesbitt scored twice and added an assist and Petr Mrazek made 41 saves as the Ottawa 67's defeated the Brampton Battalion 5-1 in Ontario Hockey League play Sunday afternoon.
Nesbitt was very effective on special teams, scoring on the power play and short-handed.
One of the hardest things about writing junior hockey copy night after night is choosing what story should be at the top of the league round up. What merits consideration?
If I based it solely on the performance of a team people would get sick of hearing about the top 10 clubs all the time.
What about if I wrote based off of population size or team popularity? Then the Halifax Mooseheads, Montreal Junior, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Ottawa 67’s, Edmonton Oil Kings, Calgary Hitmen and Vancouver Giants would dominate the stories.
Instead, I try to pick the game situations that are the most unique.
That’s why Nicolas Chouinard’s five-goal night led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League round up on Friday night. The sock trick (as it’s called in lacrosse circles) is a rare occurrence at all levels of hockey.
The dominant play of Vancouver’s special teams also caught my eye on Friday. It’s not often tthat a team can kill nine penalties while going 50-50 on the power play. It just had to be given top billing.
Saturday night had three different unique or special games, one in each league.
In the QMJHL, goaltender Olivier Roy was given a shutout by official scorers, despite the fact that he let a goal in during the shootout.
In the Ontario Hockey League, the once-dominant Barrie Colts continued to struggle, particularly at home. Worse yet, it was on the same night that they raised last year’s Eastern Conference championship banner to the rafters.
Out west, the Kelowna Rockets finally won a game, the last Canadian Hockey League team to accomplish this rather basic feat this season.
I’m sure that these stories aren’t the most significant in terms of the final standings, and they’re certainly not a showcase for prospective National Hockey League draftees. But they are interesting or quirky stories, and I think that that is what draws the most people in, week after week.
Friday October 8th 2010
QMJHL: CHOUINARD'S FIVE-GOAL NIGHT LEADS JUNIOR PAST MOOSEHEADS
Captain Nicolas Chouinard decided to lead by example on Friday night.
Chouinard scored five times as the Montreal Junior downed the Halifax Mooseheads 6-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: ANDERSON SLAMS THE DOOR AS MAJORS SHUT OUT PETES
The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors got down to business in the third period Friday night.
Casey Cizikas and Joe Cramarossa scored 32 seconds apart early in the final period and goaltender JP Anderson had his first shutout of the season as the Majors blanked the struggling Peterborough Petes 3-0 in the Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL: GIANTS WINNING THANKS TO SPECIAL TEAMS, DOWN ROCKETS
The Vancouver Giants are relying on their special teams to get wins this season.
Vancouver reeled off three unanswered power-play goals to snuff the Kelowna Rockets 4-1 in Western Hockey League play Friday night.
Saturday October 9th 2010
QMJHL: ROY EARNS SHUTOUT AS ACADIE-BATHURST WINS IN SHOOTOUT
Even though he let the puck into the net on Saturday night, goaltender Olivier Roy earned a shutout.
Roy made 32 saves as the Acadie-Bathurst Titan downed the Drummondville Voltigeurs 1-0 in a shootout in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play.
OHL: ICE DOGS ADD TO COLTS HOME WOES
Last season playing against the Colts in Barrie was one of the toughest draws in the Ontario Hockey League, but no longer.
Andrew Agozzino scored the game-winning goal 6:10 into the third period as the Niagara IceDogs defeated Barrie 4-1 in OHL action Saturday night.
WHL: BULMER'S OT GOAL GIVES ROCKETS FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON
It took an extra period but the Kelowna Rockets finally won a game.
Brett Bulmer scored the overtime winner for Kelowna, as the Rockets beat the Prince Albert Raiders 3-2 in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Sunday, October 10th 2010
QMJHL: VICTORIAVILLE DOUBLES MAINEIACS
Philip-Michael Devos' small output was just enough to make him the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's top scorer.
Devos had two assists as the Victoriaville Tigres beat the Lewiston Maineiacs 4-2 in QMJHL play Sunday afternoon.
OHL: CZARNIK LIFTS WHALERS PAST FRONTENACS IN OT
Robbie Czarnik scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the Plymouth Whalers toppled the Kingston Frontenacs 6-5 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.
Stefan Noesen had two goals and one assist for Plymouth (3-4-1), while Scott Wedgewood made 32 saves. Tyler Brown and Austin Levi added singles for the Whalers. Czarnik also had two assists.
I'm usually not one for predictions since, well, I've got a terrible track record. Just look at my Memorial Cup picks from last season. I went 1-for-4. Yikes. Similarly, I was rocked in this year's March Madness.
But when J.P. Hoornstra, my editor at HockeyPrimeTime.com, asked me to chime in with my picks for the 2010-11 National Hockey League season, well, how could I say no?
You can see all of the picks from the HPT.com staff right here. It's interesting to see that none of us agree on everything, although we come close to a consensus on a few select issues, like Alex Ovechkin winning the Rocket Richard Trophy or the Washington Capitals winning the Eastern Conference championship.
There are also some picks where I stand alone, like tabbing Tuuka Rask to win the Vezina or Jordan Eberle to go home with the Calder. But hey, there's the distinct possibility that we'll all be wrong. That's why you play the games.
But anyway, I figure that I'd share all of my picks right here so that you, the fan, can mock my poor decisions in about nine months time.
Western Conference champion: Vancouver Canucks
Eastern Conference champion: Washington Capitals
Stanley Cup champion: Vancouver Canucks
Hart Trophy: Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Calder Trophy: Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
Norris Trophy: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Vezina Trophy: Tuuka Rask, Boston Bruins
Rocket Richard Trophy: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Jack Adams Trophy: Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks
Executive of the Year: Rick Dudley of the Atlanta Thrashers
Comeback player of the Year: Mike Modano, Detroit Red Wings
Surprise playoff team: Atlanta Thrashers
Surprise non-playoff team: Montreal Canadiens
Agree? Disagree? Want an explanation? Go ahead and ask, I'll be happy to answer.
One of the nice things about the start of any sports season is seeing the developing storylines.
Every year there’s a new star, a team that emerges as an upstart and, of course, there are those franchises or players that disappoint or underperform.
That’s especially true in amateur or collegiate leagues like the Canadian Hockey League where there is massive turnover from year-to-year and the players themselves are still maturing and developing.
This past week is a great example of that turnover.
Whereas last year the CHL was dominated by the Calgary Hitmen, Moncton Wildcats, Saint John Sea Dogs, Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires, new powers like the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Owen Sound Attack and Oshawa Generals have stepped forward.
In terms of hot new prospects, all the buzz surrounded Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. New stars like Alain and Alex Saulier, Alex Aleardi and Jonathan Audy- Marchessault have already started to make some noise just weeks in to the new season.
Perhaps most refreshing is some signs of parity in the league. Teams that really struggled last season like the Halifax Mooseheads and Prince George Cougars are already doing better, guaranteeing more exciting and competitive hockey.
As long-time readers of this blog know, I’m pretty awful at predictions. Therefore, I won’t make myself foolish and try to make any kind of prognostication about the rest of the junior hockey year. What I will say is that I’m enjoying the new directions this season has already started to go in.
Friday, Oct. 1st 2010
QMJHL: GATINEAU OLYMPIQUES STUN DRUMMONDVILLE VOLTIGEURS
It was an unlikely victory for the Gatineau Olympiques on Friday night.
Maxime Clermont made 23 saves to stun the Drummondville Voltigeurs and lead Gatineau to a 3-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: ATTACK TURN THE TABLES ON KNIGHTS WITH WIN
The Owen Sound Attack got a monkey off their backs Friday night.
Joey Hishon scored twice for Owen Sound as the Attack earned a 4-2 victory over the London Knights in Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL:OIL KINGS PREVAIL OVER PATS IN PHYSICAL AFFAIR
The Edmonton Oil Kings pounded the Regina Pats in every sense of the word Friday night.
Cameron Abney scored twice and added an assist to help the Edmonton Oil Kings handle the Regina Pats 7-3 in Western Hockey League action.
Saturday, Oct. 2nd 2010
QMJHL: HYNES SCORES TWICE, VICTORIAVILLE EDGE GATINEAU IN OT
Brandon Hynes took charge of the Victoriaville Tigres' game Saturday night.
The 18-year-old winger scored twice, including the overtime winner, as Victoriaville snuck by the Gatineau Olympiques 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: MCKEGG LEADS OTTERS TO WIN OVER KNIGHTS
After surrendering 12 goals in their last two games, the Erie Otters looked a lot more confident Saturday night.
Greg McKegg scored two short-handed goals as the Otters stymied the London Knights to snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory in Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL:BEACH SCORES WINNER AS HITMEN EARN FIRST WIN OF SEASON
Last year's Western Hockey League champions are finally shaking off a slow start to the new season.
Cody Beach scored the winner and added an assist as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 6-2 for their first win of the 2010-11 season Saturday night.
Sunday, Oct. 3rd 2010
QMJHL: ACADIE-BATHURST EDGES DRAKKAR IN SHOOTOUT
It took all kinds of extra time for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to come out on top Sunday afternoon.
Zach O'Brien, Gabriel Levesque and Bryce Milson scored in the shootout as the Titan sunk the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: GRAOVAC FINDING PLACE AS OTTAWA BEATS MISSISSAUGA
Tyler Graovac is gaining confidence as a key part of the Ottawa 67's attack.
Graovac had a hat trick as the Ottawa 67's stomped the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 7-2 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.
WHL: WINTERHAWKS OVERPOWER HURRICANES
Sven Bartschi scored twice and Ty Rattie, Taylor Aronson and Ryan Johansen all had a pair of assists to lead the Portland Winterhawks over the Lethbridge Hurricanes 6-2 in Western Hockey League play on Sunday night.
Bartschi scored the first goal of the game and his first of the season and then scored on the power play in the third period.
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.
Autumn has arrived once again and with the changing of the leaves comes the busiest time of the year in the world of sports.
That applies to the journalists who cover sports as well, so this blog has fallen into disuse for the past week as I’ve been cranking out articles for other outlets. Here’s a quick rundown:
On Tuesday the Globe and Mail (and other websites) ran an article I wrote about the Ontario Hockey League indefinitely postponing their All-Star Game.
Wednesday the Winnipeg Free Press picked up a bit of an OHL season preview I did.
I’ve been busy over at HockeyPrimeTime.com as well, writing pre-season looks at the Northeast Division starting with the Boston Bruins and then moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators before finishing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hockey’s not the only sport I’m following this fall either, as field lacrosse has started up. I’ve got a vested interest as I’m continuing my involvement in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association as its Communications Director.
I’ve already written a review of the first week of play for the league’s website and I'll be penning a second one today.
That’s a quick update for you, but you should expect more content from me in the next week, starting with the return of My Weekend in Junior Hockey on Monday.