Don’t call it a comeback, the Windsor Spitfires have been here for years.
The Spitfires reeled off four-straight wins to rally from a 3-0 series deficit and dump the Kitchener Rangers on Sunday afternoon and move on to the Ontario Hockey League championship.
They’ll be meeting the Barrie Colts for the John Ross Robertson Cup and the chance to repeat as the Memorial Cup champions.
There is a blend of confidence and desperation surrounding the Spitfires, as they have one of the most loaded rosters in junior hockey, but most of their key personnel like Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler are going to graduate to the National Hockey League.
Windsor was also supposed to easily dispose of Kitchener but struggled mightily against the surprising Rangers. This combination of hope and fear will make them a determined squad when they meet Barrie on Friday.
The Western Hockey League also followed the script, with the top-seeded Tri-City Americans besting the Vancouver Giants in six games and the Calgary Hitmen topping the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games.
It’s worth noting that Wheat Kings fans shouldn’t despair – as Brandon is hosting the Canadian Hockey League’s top tournament they’ll still get a shot at the Memorial Cup.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is the only CHL division that hasn’t sorted out its final, with the Saint John Sea Dogs and Victoriaville Tigres still engaged in their semifinal series.
Whoever wins that team will go on to face the Moncton Wildcats for the QMJHL’s President’s Cup.
Moncton should be fresh after dealing with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in just five games.
Longtime readers will know that this is something of a disappointment to me. I had a great deal of faith in Drummondville and their goaltender Jake Allen, picking them to advance to the Memorial Cup.
Aside from that hiccup, everything else is playing out correctly in my early predictions. I’m pleased to say that the remaining teams really are the cream of the CHL crop. When action picks up again on Friday it should make for some exciting hockey.
Now things get interesting.
I made some predictions in this space last Wednesday, and, well, as far as prognostication goes I guess I shouldn’t quit my day job.
The biggest shock is that the Windsor Spitfires, favoured by me to win the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference, looks dead on arrival, already trailing the Kitchener Rangers 3-0 in their semifinal match-up.
Most shocking of all is that the third loss came on a heartbreaking goal when Kitchener’s Gabriel Landeskog dumped the puck into Windsor’s end where it bounced past Troy Passingham to stand as the winner.
(Check out of 3:54 of this video to see for yourself.)
It’s shocking to see last year’s Memorial Cup Champions, featuring a host of all-star talent including Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler, struggling like this. They're a stocked roster that most liked to win the John Ross Robertson cup.
If anything, this just opens the door for an easy Barrie Colts victory in the final, as they will surely finish off the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
Similarly, the Drummondville Voltigeurs, my favourites to win the Quebec Major Junior hockey League, are down 2-0 in their series with the Moncton Wildcats.
It gets worse for Drummondville too: the next two games of the season will be in New Brunswick, with Moncton having home ice advantage.
I thought that the stellar play of goaltender Jake Allen would be enough to sustain the Voltigeurs, but it looks like an all-New Brunswick final is the QMJHL’s destiny, with both Moncton and the Saint John Sea Dogs looking strong.
Meanwhile, both series in the Western Hockey League are all tied up at 1-1. The Calgary Hitmen and Brandon Wheat Kings will meet again on Tuesday night in Manitoba, while the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants will hook up in British Columbia the same night.
I should note that I have some good news and some bad news. The Good: I have been moved to the pagination department for the duration of the summer and will return to the junior hockey beat in September. The Bad: This means that I will not be writing or editing Canadian Hockey League copy for the rest of the playoffs.
Fear not dear reader! I will still write about the goings-on in Canadian junior hockey every Monday. It's a drug; I'm addicted.
After admonishing Tri-City last week, the Americans stepped up and reeled off three wins to take their series against the Kelowna Rockets 4-1.
I doubt my post made it on to their locker room’s bulletin board, so you can save your thanks for some other day, residents of Kennewick, Wash.
The victory also helped fans of the Canadian Hockey League by moving them closer to the official semifinal pairings for all three leagues.
Out east, the Saint John Sea Dogs will be facing the Victoriaville Tigres and the Moncton Wildcats will tangle with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
As I’ve said previously, I really like the Voltigeurs, and I expect that they’ll tame the Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League finals.
Here in Ontario, the Barrie Colts will play the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors starting tonight, and the Windsor Spitfires will lock up with the Kitchener Rangers on Thursday night.
No bold predictions here – just obvious ones. Barrie and Windsor will definitely handle their opponents, making for a classic pairing for the John Ross Robertson Cup and the Ontario Hockey League Championship. At the end of it all, I think it will be the Colts that go on to the Memorial Cup.
The Western Hockey League semifinals will be the most hotly contested across the nation, with the Calgary Hitmen staring down the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Eastern Conference final and the aforementioned Americans tangling with the Vancouver Giants.
It’s a shame that the Hitmen and Wheat Kings can’t meet in the league final. They are the two best teams remaining in these brackets, and it would’ve made it a more pure championship.
That said, I still like Calgary’s chances to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup when they meet with Tri-City.
Friday, April 9th 2010
QMJHL – Cornet scores in second OT as Rouyn-Noranda edges Moncton
It took nearly five full periods of play, but Philippe Cornet kept the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies' playoff hopes alive on Friday night.
Cornet scored 14:28 into double overtime as the Huskies eked out a 5-4 win over the Moncton Wildcats in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League post-season action. (See more...)
WHL – Tri-City wins series with OT victory over Kelowna
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Kruise Reddick scored at 5:37 of overtime to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets and a series win in Western Hockey League playoff action on Friday night.
Tri-City wins the series 4-1 and will play the winner of the Vancouver Giants-Spokane Chiefs pairing in the Western Conference final. (See more...)
Saturday, April 10th 2010
QMJHL – Bourque has winner as Moncton wins game, series vs. Huskies
MONCTON, N.B. - Gabriel Bourque and the Moncton Wildcats weren't too tired to finish their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League series on Saturday night.
Bourque had the eventual winner 14 seconds into the final period as Moncton finished off the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 3-1, taking their quarter-final series. (See more...)
OHL – Knights drop Rangers to force Game 7
KITCHENER, Ont. -- Jared Knight scored twice as the London Knights forced a seventh game in their series against the Kitchener Rangers with a 5-3 win in Ontario Hockey League playoff action on Saturday night.
The decisive Game 7 will be in London on Monday night. The winners of the Western Conference semifinal will face the Windsor Spitfires. (See more...)
Niederreiter’s two goals keeps Portland alive in WHL semis
VANCOUVER -- Nino Niederreiter scored twice and added an assist as the Portland Winterhawks avoided elimination from the Western Hockey League playoffs with a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night.
Portland will host Game 6 on Tuesday. If necessary, Game 7 will also be held there on Thursday. (See more...)
Sunday, April 11th 2010
WHL – Foucault nets OT winner as Hitmen down Tigers, claim series
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - Kris Foucault scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the Calgary Hitmen edged the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-2 to end their Western Hockey League playoff series on Sunday night.
Calgary won the series 4-2 and will face the winner of the Brandon Wheat Kings-Saskatoon Blades pairing in the Eastern Conference final. (See more...)
During yesterday’s weekly junior hockey round-up I predicted that the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Barrie Colts and Calgary Hitmen would be representing their leagues in the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament.
Today, I figured that it would be of some use to show people what the first round quarterfinal match-ups are for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League.
Links to the official playoff schedules for each league are also included.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (Schedule here)
Saint John Sea Dogs (#1 Atlantic) vs. P.E.I. Rocket (#4A)
Moncton Wildcats (#2A) vs. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (#3A)
Drummondville Voltigeurs (#1 Central) vs. Lewiston Maineiacs (#4C)
Victoriaville Tigres (#2C) vs. Shawinigan Cataractes (#3C)
Quebec Remparts (#1 East) vs. Acadie-Bathurst Titan (#5A)
Rimouski Oceanic (#2E) vs. Chicoutimi Sagueneens (#3E)
Rouyn-Noranda (#1 West) vs. Val-d’Or Foreurs (#4W)
Montreal Junior (#2W) vs. Gatineau Olympiques (#4W)
Ontario Hockey League (Schedule here)
Series A (East)
Barrie Colts (1) vs. Sudbury Wolves (8)
Series B (East)
Ottawa 67’s (2) vs. Niagara IceDogs (7)
Series C (East)
Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (3) vs. Peterborough Petes (6)
Series D (East)
Kingston Frontenacs (4) vs. Brampton Battalion (5)
Series A (West)
Windsor Spitfires (1) vs. Erie Otters (8)
Series B (West)
London Knights (2) vs. Guelph Storm (7)
Series C (West)
Kitchener Rangers (3) vs. Saginaw Spirit (6)
Series D (West)
Plymouth Whalers (4) vs. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (5)
Western Hockey League (Schedule here)
Series A (East)
Calgary Hitmen (1) vs. Moose Jaw Warriors (8)
Series B (East)
Brandon Wheat Kings (2) vs. Swift Current Broncos (7)
Series C (East)
Saskatoon Blades (3) vs. Red Deer Rebels (6)
Series D (East)
Kootenay Ice (4) vs. Medicine Hat Tigers (5)
Series A (West)
Tri-City Americans (1) vs. Chilliwack Bruins (8)
Series B (West)
Vancouver Giants (2) vs. Kamloops Blazers (7)
Series C (West)
Everett Silvertips (3) vs. Kelowna Rockets (6)
Series D (West)
Spokane Chiefs (4) vs. Portland Winterhawks (5)
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...)
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...)