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.
The Canadian Hockey League’s post-season continues to roll along, with many first round match-ups being settled in the past couple of days.
There are now six series waiting to be resolved in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League.
The QMJHL’s two remaining series will be wrapped up Tuesday night as the Rimouski Oceanic host the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the Gatineau Olympiques visit the Montreal Junior’s home ice in Verdun, Que.
Quebecois junior hockey fans should expect Montreal and Rimouski to prevail and move on to the next round.
The OHL’s quarter-finals are just waiting on the Tuesday night finale of the Frontenacs – Brampton Battalion series in Kingston.
Ethan Werek’s devastating knee injury on Sunday coupled with the triumphant return of the Battalion’s Cody Hodgson spells out defeat for the Frontenacs. Expect Brampton to meet the Barrie Colts on Thursday night.
There are three series still on the go in the WHL. I’m sticking to my earlier prediction that the Calgary Hitmen will be able to beat the surprising Moose Jaw Warriors.
The Silvertips should still be favoured to snuff out the Kelowna Rockets in Everett on Monday night and the Portland Winterhawks should be able to eke out one more win over the Spokane Chiefs.
Friday, March 26th 2010
QMJHL – Saint John moves on to QMJHL quarter-finals
The Saint John Sea Dogs advanced to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League quarter-finals with a decisive victory Friday night.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored in each period and added two assists as the Sea Dogs thumped the P.E.I. Rocket 7-2 in QMJHL playoff action. (See more...)
OHL – Spirit edges Rangers in physical playoff match-up
The Saginaw Spirit held on to beat the Kitchener Rangers 4-3 in a physical Ontario Hockey League playoff game Friday night.
The Spirit were up 4-0 when, at the 13:49 mark of the third period, a scrum broke out. When the dust settled, Saginaw's Tyler Murovich, Michael Kantor and Garret Ross had all earned game misconducts, while Kitchener's Micky Sartoretto and Andrew Crescenzi were also booted. (See more...)
WHL – Tigers top Ice, take 3-2 playoff series lead
Tyler Bunz came up big as the Medicine Hat Tigers took the lead in their Western Hockey League playoff series.
Bunz made 31 saves, including 17 in the second period, as Medicine Hat earned a 5-2 win over the Kootenay Ice in WHL post-season action Friday night. (See more...)
Saturday, March 27th 2010
QMJHL – Wildcats squash Cape Breton; advance to second round
Goaltender Nicola Riopel's stellar play is putting the Montcon Wildcats further into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs and his name into the record books.
Riopel made 30 saves as the Wildcats mauled the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-0 in QMJHL post-season action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Hitmen hold off Moose Jaw Warriors for win; force Game 7
The Calgary Hitmen survived a rally by the Moose Jaw Warriors to post a 7-3 win and even their Western Hockey League playoff series Saturday night.
The Hitmen trailed the series 3-1 before winning Thursday and Saturday. The deciding seventh game will be Monday night in Calgary. (See more...)
Sunday, March 28th 2010
QMJHL- Tigres slip by Shawinigan 2-1 in OT; win series
Philip-Michael Devos was the overtime hero Sunday for the Victoriaville Tigres.
Devos scored on the power play 13:04 into the extra period to lift Victoriaville to a 2-1 victory over the Shawinigan Cataractes, helping the Tigres clinch their first-round Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff series. (See more...)
OHL – Frontenacs beat Battalion to force Game 7
The Kingston Frontenacs tied their Ontario Hockey League playoff series 3-3, but lost captain Ethan Werek in the process.
Kingston scored twice in the second period to rally to a 2-1 win over the Brampton Battalion on Sunday afternoon, forcing a decisive seventh game in their OHL playoff series. (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.