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.
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...)
The Western Hockey League is the very picture of dichotomy. Its Eastern Conference is locked in a struggle for dominance, while the West’s playoff picture is quickly coming into focus.
In the Prairies the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings both have 84 points, with Saskatoon given the advantage with two games in hand.
The Blades edge might be short lived as Brandon is rolling, earning points in the last 11 games.
The Calgary Hitmen are in charge of the Central Division with 82 points and are white hot with eight straight wins.
The Hitmen and Wheat Kings are hitting their stride at the right time of year, climbing the standings and taking momentum into hockey’s second season. They will decide who is the hottest team in the league Monday night as Brandon will visit Calgary.
The Wheat Kings will have to keep a close eye on Brandon Kozun, whose 29 goals and 54 assists has the most points in the WHL. Brandon will also have to watch out for Tyler Fiddler who had two goals Friday night against the Prince Albert Raiders.
Despite the success of the Blades, Hitmen and Wheat Kings, no team in the East has booked tickets to hockey’s second season just yet.
Compare that knot to the WHL’s Western Conference where the playoff picture is almost completely sorted out.
The Tri-City Americans, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs have all clinched postseason spots.
Further, on Saturday night Portland beat Prince George 3-1, eliminating the Cougars from contention. This means that of the 12 teams in the West, half already know how they’ll be spending the playoffs.
The Seattle Thunderbirds will probably join Prince George soon, as they haven’t won a game since Jan. 9 when they, of course, earned a 3-1win over the Cougars. Since then it’s been 10 regulation losses and three in overtime.
That leaves it up to the Kelowna Rockets, Kamloops Blazers and Chilliwack Bruins to claim the final three postseason berths.
Friday, Feb. 12 2010
QMJHL – Quesnel leads Val-d’Or to win over Montreal
Alexandre Quesnel put the Val-d'Or Foreurs on his shoulders Friday night.
He scored back-to-back goals to lift the Foreurs to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Junior in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)
OHL – Generals get pounded by Majors as Brace scores twice
Riley Brace and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors were happy to take advantage of the slumping Oshawa Generals.
Brace scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lift Mississauga to a 6-0 win over Oshawa in the Ontario Hockey League Friday night. (See more...)
WHL – Hitmen run streak to seven straight with win over Raiders
Tyler Fiddler and the Calgary Hitmen continue to roll.
Fiddler scored twice, including the winner, to lead Calgary to a 3-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders in Western Hockey League action on Friday night. (See more...)
Lefrancois scored four times and had two assists to lead the Rimouski Oceanic to a 9-6 win over the Halifax Mooseheads in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)
OHL – Whalers’ Seguin scores OT winner to beat Sting
When the Plymouth Whalers are in a tight game they know they can rely on Tyler Seguin.
Seguin scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the Plymouth Whalers topped the Sarnia Sting 5-4 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Cougars eliminated from playoffs with loss to Winterhawks
It's no surprise to Western Hockey League fans: the Prince George Cougars won't be making the playoffs.
With a 3-1 effort the Portland Winterhawks officially knocked Prince George out of the WHL post-season Saturday night. (See more...)
QMJHL – Tigres drop Chicoutimi as Pulin earns 75th careers win
Kevin Poulin made history as the Victoriaville Tigres rolled to a win Sunday afternoon.
Poulin made 17 saves as Victoriaville dumped the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 7-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)
OHL – Hodgson scores first two if season as Battalion down Petes
Cody Hodgson is getting back into the swing of things.
The Vancouver Canucks draft pick scored his first two goals of the season as the Brampton Battalion shut down the Peterborough Petes 4-0 on Sunday afternoon in Ontario Hockey League play. (See more...)
Friday, Jan. 8th 2009:
QMJHL: Remparts top Baie-Comeau, give Roy 200th coaching win:
Patrick Roy has waited a long time for his 200th victory as the coach of the Quebec Remparts.
Antoine Tardif stopped 26 shots as the Quebec Remparts smashed the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 6-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night. (Read more...)
OHL: Jenner scores OT winner as Oshawa beats Peterborough
Boone Jenner knew how to cap off a thrilling game for the Oshawa Generals.
Jenner scored short-handed, 2:27 into overtime, to lift Oshawa to a 4-3 win over the Peterborough Petes in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night. (Read more...)
WHL: Warriors ruin “Eberle and Teubert Day” for Pats
Friday may have been "Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert Day" in Regina, but it wasn't their night.
The Moose Jaw Warriors thumped Eberle, Teubert and the Pats 5-2 in Western Hockey League action Friday, putting a damper on the festivities. (Read more...)
Saturday, Jan. 9th 2009:
QMJHL: Roy, Cape Breton shut out Halifax
Olivier Roy is moving up in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League record books.
Roy made 31 saves as the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles blanked the Halifax Mooseheads 2-0 Saturday night. (Read more...)
OHL: Kadri scores shootout winner in wild game
The London Knights barely survived a wild night against the Erie Otters.
Nazem Kadri scored in the shootout as the London Knights outlasted the Erie Otters 8-7 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (Read more...)
WHL: Borrowed goalie can’t get Prince George past Seattle
Even bringing in some help from the Everett Silvertips couldn't help the lowly Prince George Cougars.
Charles Wells scored twice and added an assist to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 win over Prince George in Western Hockey League play Saturday night. (Read more...)
Sunday, Jan. 10th 2009:
QMJHL: Martel wins 223rd game as Chicoutimi downs Baie-Comeau
Richard Martel is now the winningest coach in Chicoutimi Sagueneens history.
Antoine Roussel scored twice as Chicoutimi sank the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon. (Read more...)
OHL: Wolves score five in second period to down Generals
The Sudbury Wolves used the Oshawa Generals to rebound from Saturday night's loss.
Eric O'Dell and Eddy Leitans-Rinke both scored twice as part of a five-goal second period, leading the Sudbury Wolves to a 7-4 win over the Oshawa Generals in Ontario Hockey League play Sunday night. (Read more...)
I thought that this was a very interesting week in the Canadian Hockey League.
As usual, the play on the ice was exciting, but there were also a lot of quirky things going on during the games.
First of all, from Saturday’s OHL report, the London Knights/Erie Otters match-up must have been incredible to watch. I assume that the London crowd was silenced when Erie scored five (!) unanswered goals to force extra time.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have it on TV in the sports department, and we didn’t have a stringer at the game. Otherwise, I would have been able to have an even more interesting story, because the game score indicated that Erie’s last two goals were empty-netters, including one on the power play.
That’s right, according to the game sheet, London pulled their goalie when they were up by two. You can imagine how much this confused me from my cushy seat at the Canadian Press.
Since then, the game sheet has been fixed to show them as even-strength goals.
Saturday night was also interesting in the WHL, with Prince George borrowing a goalie from the Everett Silvertips. The Cougars had been rolling with only one goaltender on their roster for a t least a week, so I suppose it was inevitable that they’d need an extra ‘keeper.
I’m just 26, but I’ve never seen that happen in an organized hockey game before.
With the junior hockey trade deadline on Monday there was also a lot of action off the ice with players changing teams. I mentioned this on Twitter, but the Chicoutimi Sagueneens have traded away many of their best players including Jacab Lagace and Nicolas Deschamps. As far as I can tell, the Sags are preparing for the 2010-11 season.
Obviously, the QMJHL stories from Friday and Sunday were naturals as round-up toppers. First of all, you can’t go wrong talking about Patrick Roy. He’s easily one of the top three goalies, ever, and he’s probably going to become an NHL coach within the next three years.
Then you have Richard Martel becoming the winningest coach in Sagueneens history. He’s one of the great coaches in the QMJHL and deserves accolades for his 223rd victory. However, as a writer/editor I also knew that with Chicoutimi in the midst of a firesale they likely won’t be at the top of a round-up any time soon.
Also, I’m not sure how much longer I could resist calling Martel a “model” to his players.
One other thing to note: I did not write any WHL stories on Sunday because my shift would have been seven or eight hours long. Instead, one of my co-workers wrote it. You can see it here: WHL: Reddick nets two goals as Americans blank Bruins.
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.