It’s been too long since I did one of these posts, and for that you have my apologies.
The Canadian Hockey League takes a break every year over Christmas, which means, by extension, that I also get some vacation time.
After that, all three member leagues crank out games at an epic rate from Christmas to New Year’s Eve because the players aren’t in school. It’s also an opportunity for some of the lesser lights on the club teams to shine while their all-star teammates are playing in the World Junior Championship.
That run of games meant five consecutive shifts for me, and it was simply too daunting to recap in one of these blog posts.
Anyway, I don’t mean to offer up excuses, merely explanations.
The Canadian Hockey League season is now around its midpoint and it’s hard to not write about the top teams night after night. I could, in theory, make every round up revolve around the Quebec Remparts, Saint John Sea Dogs, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Ottawa 67’s, Portland Winterhawks and the Saskatoon Blades.
That’s why I was so pleased with this past weekend. Sure, I still touched on those teams in the toppers of my roundups, but I also shone a light on other teams like the Shawinigan Cataractes, Gatineau Olympiques and Sudbury Wolves.
It can be tough in the bleak midwinter, but for at least one weekend I managed to keep things interesting.
Friday, Jan. 7th
QMJHL: HODHOD LEADS CATARACTES TO UPSET OF REMPARTS
The Shawinigan Cataractes cooled off the Quebec Remparts on Friday night.
Samuel Hodhod had a pair of goals as Shawinigan upset Quebec 4-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SIX DIFFERENT 67'S SCORE IN VICTORY OVER PETERBOROUGH
Petr Mrazek stopped all 23 shots he faced Friday night and the Ottawa 67's received goals from six different scorers on their way to a 6-0 victory over the Peterborough Petes in Ontario Hockey League action.
The shutout was the second of the season for the Czech netminder, who backstopped the 67's to a sweep of the home-and-home series with the Petes.
WHL: FERRARO LEADS SILVERTIPS TO WIN OVER AMERICANS
Landon Ferraro broke out of a massive goal-scoring drought, finding the net twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans on Friday night in Western Hockey League action.
Ferraro, Everett's captain, had gone 20 games without scoring. But he ended his drought when he scored on his own rebound late in the first period to open the scoring. His power-play goal midway through the third period proved the difference.
Saturday, Jan. 8th
QMJHL: SEA DOGS CRUISE PAST MOOSEHEADS ON ROAD
The Saint John Sea Dogs continue to dominate the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Michael Kirkpatrick had back-to-back goals and two assists as the Sea Dogs crushed the Halifax Mooseheads 9-2 on Saturday night.
OHL: SUDBURY UPSETS LEAGUE-LEADING MAJORS
Andrey Kuchin scored twice, including a power-play goal, as the lowly Sudbury Wolves defeated the Ontario Hockey League-leading Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 6-5 on Saturday night.
Captain Marcus Foligno, Eric O'Dell, Mike Lomas, and Alex Racino also chipped in for Sudbury (13-24-2). Mathew Campagna and Josh McFadden both had a pair of assists.
WHL: AMERICANS CRUSH HURRICANES
There's no place like home for the Tri-City Americans.
Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman each had two goals and Mason Wilgosh had a goal and three assists to lead the Americans to a 9-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Sunday, Jan. 9th
QMJHL: OLYMPIQUES WIN NINTH STRAIGHT GAME
The Gatineau Olympiques are rolling their way up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings.
Raphael Lafontaine scored at the 11:30 mark of the third period as the Olympiques disposed of the Montreal Juniors 5-3 on Sunday afternoon.
OHL: TOFFOLI NETS HAT TRICK, ASSIST AS 67'S GET BY ATTACK
Tyler Toffoli had three goals and an assist as the Ottawa 67's earned a big 6-4 win over the Owen Sound Attack in Ontario Junior Hockey League action Sunday.
The four points give Toffoli an even 200 for his OHL career. He is in his third season with the 67's.
All three organizations in the Canadian Hockey League have their own style of play, their own personality.
Everyone knows that the Western Hockey League is rough-and-tumble prairie hockey, the Ontario Hockey League is defensively oriented and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is all scorers, goalies and good, clean play.
The QMJHL is also marked by streaky play. Teams can easily reel off wins in the double digits.
Winning streaks can reach crazy heights in the Q - the 1973-74 Sorel Eperviers hold the record with 25 in a row, but last year’s Saint John Sea Dogs came close, taking 22 consecutive games.
Saint John wasn’t the only team to embark on an impressive winning span last season either as the Drummondville Voltigeurs won 16 straight.
In fact, of the ten longest win streaks in QMJHL history, six have happened in the last decade and five in the past three years.
Therefore, it’s a big deal when a top team’s streak comes to an end because it might just shape their season and seriously affect the QMJHL’s playoff picture.
So when the Sea Dogs twisted the knife on the stumbling Quebec Remparts with a 6-0 victory on Sunday afternoon, it’s notable.
Almost as a direct result of that stomping, Saint John switched places with Quebec in the CHL’s weekly power rankings and stole the Remparts’ momentum, possibly shifting the balance of power in the QMJHL.
Don’t believe me? Consider the comment Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect Chris DiDomenico left on Sunday’s QMJHL round up on TSN.ca.
“A championship calibre team wins those 3 games in 3 nights. Our last road trip we had 4 games in 5 nights, the toughest schedule given to any team in the CHL this year. We went 4 wins 0 losses in that stretch and dominated the 4th game. Quebec has a good offensive team and a great goalie but defence wins championships. Saint John is solid at all ends of the ice including a surprising great goaltending from Piche and once Deserres gets back to his regular Memorial Cup form than expect a longer BMO #1 status than last year.”
DiDomenico knows what he’s talking about. He was drafted by Saint John in 2006 and was traded to Drummondville in 2008. In other words, he was a key player when the Voltigeurs ran wild for 16 games last season.
So now the big question is – will the Sea Dogs start racking up the wins after their big statement game against their nearest competition?
Friday Nov. 12th 2010
QMJHL: REMPARTS STOP SLIDE WITH WIN OVER TITAN
The Quebec Remparts are starting to turn things around after a disappointing week.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault had two power-play goals as Quebec stopped a three-game slide with a 5-2 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play Friday night.
OHL: TOFFOLI'S HAT TRICK LIFTS OTTAWA TO WIN OVER STING
Tyler Toffoli provided just enough scoring for the Ottawa 67's on Friday night.
Toffoli scored all three goals as Ottawa posted a 3-2 win over the Sarnia Sting in Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL: SASKATOON DOWNS PORTLAND IN MATCHUP OF WHL'S TOP TEAMS
The Saskatoon Blades engineered a small upset in one of the most anticipated matches of the young Western Hockey League season.
Marek Viedensky had a goal and three assists as Saskatoon rallied past the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 Friday night.
Saturday Nov. 13th 2010
QMJHL: NADEAU AND THE VOLTIGEURS BLAST THE WILDCATS
Guillaume Nadeau made 17 saves as the Drummondville Voltigeurs shut out the Moncton Wildcats 4-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
It was Nadeau's third clean sheet of his rookie season in the QMJHL.
OHL: KITCHENER RANGERS EARN RARE WIN IN PLYMOUTH
The Kitchener Rangers haven't had a lot of luck in southeastern Michigan.
Kitchener won for the first time in Plymouth since the 2007-08 season Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the Whalers in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: STONE SHINES DESPITE EJECTION IN WARRIORS VICTORY
Brandon Stone made an early exit, but he still got to take the final bow.
Moose Jaw's rookie goalie was tossed from the game with eight seconds left to play after stopping 32 shots as the Warriors shut out the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-0 in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Sunday Nov. 14th 2010
QMJHL: SEA DOGS SERVE NOTICE TO REMPARTS WITH 6-0 WIN
The Saint John Sea Dogs made a strong statement Sunday afternoon.
Jacob DeSerres made 22 saves to earn the shutout as the Sea Dogs rocked the Quebec Remparts 6-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: LEBAR SCORES THREE IN FRONTENACS RALLY OVER SARNIA
The Kingston Frontenacs would not give up Sunday night.
Ryan Spooner scored in overtime as Kingston rallied to a 6-5 win over the Sarnia Sting in Ontario Hockey League action.
News stories at the start of the Canadian Hockey League season – really, any sport’s year – tends to focus on team events.
After all, there are team previews, predictions and personnel moves to write about. On the other hand, there are no individual accomplishments that are worth reporting on.
Let’s face facts: the current scoring leader isn’t that impressive when there are a dozen players within two points.
This weekend saw many of those individual stories finally begin to develop.
Friday night was the beginning of the latest chapter in Kiril Kabanov’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career as he debuted with the Lewiston Maineiacs, his third junior club in as many years.
On Sunday, Kitchener’s Jason Akeson and Ryan Murphy were put on centre stage as they continued to dominate the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring race, dishing out seven assists between the two of them as their Rangers easily handled the London Knights.
I wholly expect that, barring injury, Kabanov, Akeson and Murphy will be players that I write about all season.
Sure, there are still some team-oriented stories to write about, like Saturdayès story of the surprising losing skid of the top-ranked Quebec Remparts, but the development of individual storylines will help add a little diversity to my news stories.
Give the CHL a few more weeks and we’ll really see some of the individual characters start to shine in the QMJHL, OHL and Western Hockey League.
Friday, November 5th 2010
QMJHL: MAINEIACS DOWN FOREURS IN KABANOV'S DEBUT
The debut of Kiril Kabanov barely figured into the Lewiston Maineiac's impressive win streak on Friday night.
Olivier Dame-Malka scored twice, including the eventual winner, as Lewiston prevailed over the Val-d'Or Foreurs 5-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SADIKOV STOPS 27 AS THE OTTERS BLANK ATTACK
Ramis Sadikov celebrated in style on Friday night.
The Erie Otters' second-year goaltender recorded his first Ontario Hockey League shutout in a 4-0 win against the Midwest Division-leading Owen Sound Attack.
WHL: ARONSON THE OVERTIME HERO AS WINTERHAWKS WIN OVER REBELS
Taylor Aronson scored 3:40 into overtime to give the Portland Winterhawks a 4-3 win over the Red Deer Rebels in Western Hockey League play on Friday night.
The Winterhawks spent most of the extra period in Red Deer's end of the ice, generating several chances.
Saturday, November 6th 2010
QMJHL: LEBLANC PP GOALS SENDS JUNIORS PAST REMPARTS
Suddenly, the Quebec Remparts don't look so hot.
Louis Leblanc's power-play goal early in the third period stood as the winner as the Montreal Juniors slipped by the Remparts 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
OHL: WEREK AND SARAULT SO HEROES AS FRONTENACS EDGE BULLS
The Kingston Frontenacs just won't let up on the Belleville Bulls this season.
Kingston continued to have the Belleville's number Saturday night, pulling out a 3-2 shootout win in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL; ROWINSKI'S THREE POINTS SPARK WARRIORS TO WIN OVER PATS
Brendan Rowinski scored twice and added an assist for the Moose Jaw Warriors in their 5-3 win over the Regina Pats in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Moose Jaw scored five unanswered goals to register their fifth-straight win.
Sunday, November 7th 2010
QMJHL: O'BRIEN LEADS TITAN PAST SAGUENEENS
Zach O'Brien and David Gilbert did most of the heavy lifting for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Sunday afternoon.
O'Brien and Gilbert had shootout markers to lead the Titan past the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: AKESON, MURPHY POWER KITCHENER PAST LONDON
Jason Akeson and Ryan Murphy are getting results through their unselfish play.
Akeson had four assists as the Kitchener Rangers had three unanswered goals to race past the London Knights 5-4 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.
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.
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 former captain of Canada’s world junior team has now been charged with assault causing injury months after he knocked Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts to the ice with an elbow to the head.
Cormier was suspended by the QMJHL for the rest of the season, a punishment that was supported by the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, preventing the New Jersey Devils’ prospect from playing out the rest of the season as a professional.
Criminal charges, however, take things to a whole new level.
There is going to be a huge outcry over this – both positive and negative – and then gas will be poured on the issue during the first intermission of tonight’s broadcast of the Vancouver Canucks-Chicago Blackhawks game when the CBC’s Don Cherry is given some airtime on Coach’s Corner.
Hits to the head, French-Canadian players and the law weighing-in to judge hockey? Oh man. This is like the perfect storm of Cherry Pet Peeves.
In any event, a ton of ink is going to be spilled in over the possibility of a hockey player doing time for an act on the ice.
Of course, the big question is – should Cormier even be charged in the first place? It pains me to say it but, yes, he should.
As evidenced by the strong reaction of the Canadian Hockey League, the QMJHL and the NHL that play was definitely outside the normal parameters of safe play. Further, there’s an argument to be made that Cormier did it on purpose. The video evidence certainly makes it look like Cormier purposely targeted Tam.
Despite the protests of some fans, there is precedent for the law getting involved in overly-physical hockey disputes. In fact, it’s happened on 14 different occasions since 1900.
If that happened on the street it would undoubtedly result in the victim pressing charges, so why shouldn’t it on a rink?
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but for justice to be completely done, Cormier must go through a criminal trial.
This week junior hockey fans were treated to some great match-ups that might be previews of playoff matchups.
Friday night two of the highest seeds in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League locked up as the Drummondville Voltigeurs beat down the Quebec Remparts 8-2.
Even after absorbing the loss, the Remparts are in first in the Eastern Division. The win was more significant for the Voltigeurs who continued to put distance between themselves and the Victoriaville Tigres in the Central Division.
The game was headlined by Gabriel Dumont, who scored a hat trick for Drummondville and continues to be one of their strongest players.
On Saturday night the Barrie Colts dumped the Windsor Spitfires 8-5 in another high scoring game.
I’m not big on publicizing my predictions, but I wholly expect that this game could be a preview of the Ontario Hockey League’s playoff finals. The Colts have dominated the league’s Eastern Conference, not just clinching a playoff berth but also a title.
Meanwhile, the Spitfires have been strong in the Western Conference, putting a virtual all star team on the ice every night. They’ve also got the psychological advantage of being last year’s Canadian Hockey League champions.
This weekend was a good indication of what the postseason has in store.
Friday, Feb. 19th2010
QMJHL – Drummondville drills Quebec in top matchup
When two top-ranked teams meet, it's supposed to be a close game.
That wasn't the case Friday night as Gabriel Dumont scored in each period and the Drummondville Voltigeurs blasted the Quebec Remparts 8-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)
OHL – Luciani’s hat trick leads Erie to victory
It was a home coming of sorts for goaltender Adam Courchaine of the Erie Otters.
Anthony Luciani earned the hat trick as Erie defeated the Ottawa 67's 5-2 in Ontario Hockey League play Friday night. (See more...)
WHL – Blazers celebrate Mucha’s night with win over Seattle
Forward C.J. Stretch made sure a milestone night for goaltender Kurtis Mucha was extra special.
Stretch went end-to-end and scored the winning goal in overtime to give the Kamloops Blazers a 5-4 Western Hockey League victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday night. (See more...)
Saturday, Feb. 20th 2010
QMJHL – Shawinigan upsets Saint John
Antoine Houde-Caron and the Shawinigan Cataractes had one of the biggest wins of their season Saturday night.
Houde-Caron scored the eventual winner as Shawinigan tamed the Saint John Sea Dogs 3-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. (See more...)
OHL – Colts take down Spitfires
In a likely preview of the John Ross Robertson Cup, the Barrie Colts downed the Windsor Spitfires.
Alex Hutchings and Darren Archibald both had a pair of goals as Barrie raced to an 8-5 win over Windsor in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)
WHL – Weal leads Regina over Chilliwack
The Regina Pats kept their playoff hopes alive with a much needed win Saturday night.
Jordan Weal had two goals and two assists to lift Regina to a 5-3 victory over the Chilliwack Bruins in Western Hockey League action. (See more...)
Sunday, Feb. 21st 2010
QMJHL – Rouyn-Noranda edges Chicoutimi
Richard Martel will have to wait a week for his next chance to make history.
Sergey Ostapchuk had the eventual winner as the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies held on to beat the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 2-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play Sunday afternoon. (See more...)
OHL – Plymouth cruises to 11-3 win over Sarnia; clinches berth
The Plymouth Whalers earned a playoff spot in style Sunday afternoon.
Tyler Seguin and Ryan Hayes both scored twice and added an assist as Plymouth crushed the Sarnia Sting 11-3 in Ontario Hockey League action. (See more...)
Patrice Cormier has had a change of heart, and all it’s going to cost him is what little credibility he has left.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Cormier announced yesterday that they would be appealing the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s season-long suspension of the 19-year-old forward.
“He could serve up to 48 games, that's too much,” said Huskies coach and general manager Andre Tourigny.
“I respect the decision of the QMJHL even if I find it too severe. I deeply regret the circumstances surrounding this event and I wish Mikael Tam a speedy and full recovery. Thanks for your attention,” said Cormier in a short statement read to the Canadian Press by telephone.
This is a departure from his statement Tuesday morning: “I fully respect the Quebec Major Junior League's decision regarding the Mikael Tam incident.”
Earlier this week I had criticized that particular statement by Cormier because there was no actual apology to Tam. He still hasn’t apologized and this appeal is much worse, adding insult to injury.
Cormier could have continued his career in, as Tourigny said, just 48 games. If he had accepted his punishment, acted contrite whenever asked about the incident and worked hard on the ice to develop as a player, he’d likely make the NHL within two years.
But now he’s rubbing some salt in the wound, and not winning over any supporters.
Although I felt that the suspension was a fair punishment for what was clearly a malicious hit, other corners were calling for a lifetime ban. I can only imagine the ink that will be spilled if Cormier’s suspension is shortened.
That said, I do understand the team’s motivation behind the appeal. Rouyn-Noranda paid a hefty price to acquire Cormier. Specifically, they sent two promising players in Michael Beaudry and Alexandre Mallet (both just 18 years old) as well as three first round draft picks and one second round draft pick to the Rimouski Oceanic for Cormier and Jordan Caron.
To lose one of those players to suspension for the rest of the season – and possibly for the rest of his junior career if he moves on to the NHL or AHL next year – cripples the Huskies playoff chances. Rouyn-Noranda’s playoff window is closing, and Tourigny knows that he gave up the team’s future is bleak without those four picks.
The problem is, of course, that although Cormier might not play again this season, he’ll definitely be playing somewhere next year. The same can’t be said for his victim, Mikael Tam.
Although Cormier’s suspension is a bitter pill to swallow, it did give him the opportunity to move on. The same can’t be said for Tam. Cormier should be counting his blessings, not the number of games he’ll be missing.
Of course they did. Really, it’s the only option the league’s disciplinarian had after the former captain of Canada’s World Junior tournament team laid Mikael Tamof the Quebec Remparts out with a vicious elbow.
But there are still lots of questions, the biggest and broadest of which is: where do we go from here? Not just Tam and Cormier, but the game itself.
By all accounts, Tam has already begun to recover. He hasn’t shown any signs of a concussion and he’s been released from the hospital. All good news, to be sure. But no one is sure if he’ll be able to re-join his teammates, or when. Sad when you consider that the 18-year-old defenceman was having a career season with 10 goals and 12 assists.
Cormier, of course, will be spending most of his time training on his own. Lou Lamoriello, the GM of the New Jersey Devils who drafted Cormier 54th overall in the 2008 draft, has already stated that the team will not place him in the American Hockey League or on any other teams affiliated with the Devils.
"We will honour the league's suspension, have not considered, and will not explore other avenues for his return this season," Lamoriello said in a press release.
This won’t be the end of Cormier’s career though. He's still a top-flight prospect who might be able to bounce back from this incident. Certainly, if he keeps his head down, his nose clean and continues to develop as a player, the Devils will have to consider calling him up to the NHL in the next few seasons.
Cormier has issued his own public statement, saying, in part, “I deeply regret the circumstances surrounding this event and wish Mikael Tam a speedy and full recovery."
No apology to Tam, just some best wishes. As so often happens in incidents like this, the injured party has to deal with the consequences of the play, while the offender is able to, eventually, resume their career. I wouldn’t want Cormier on my team, but the world of hockey has found roomin its heart to forgive a lot of players after similarly vicious incidents. Todd Bertuzzi is the first name that comes to mind.
And that brings us to the real problem: violence in hockey.
After all, everyone abhors Cormier’s cheap shot, but no one knows how to remove dirty hits from the game. I know that I enjoy watching a good hockey fight, as I think most people do, and there’s nothing like a good, solid hit. Hockey is an intrinsically violent game.
But there is a semi-permanent, translucent line in hockey that a player can cross where finishing their check somehow becomes a late hit. Standards seem to change case by case. This line needs to be better defined, with clearer consequences outlined. How else can hockey separate good violence from, for lack of a better term, bad violence?
I’m not sure. Hockey and hockey culture will always be physical, and tough players will always be admired. It would require an incredible sea-change to adjust the attitudes of players, coaches, officials and fans.
Suspending Cormier is certainly a good step. He’s a very visible junior hockey player, and as I mentioned in an article last week, he’s a repeat offender. It sends a strong message to the hockey community, and was the natural conclusion to a nasty chapter in QMJHL history.
Forcing Cormier, and other offenders at all levels of hockey, to engage in public awareness campaigns might be productive as well.
However, the most effective solution would be to force the offending player’s team to forfeit the game.
Had Quebec lost that game (the Remparts rallied to win 3-2 in the shootout), I feel that the QMJHL should have ruled the game as a forfeit for Rouyn-Noranda. If this became standard practice in junior and professional hockey leagues, I think it would create a sense of peer pressure that a cheap or dirty hit hurts the team in the standings, and players and coaches would do a better job of policing themselves. After all, no one wants to be directly responsible for costing their team a game, in addition to be suspended and fined.
It will take a huge, systemic change to eliminate dirty hits from hockey, but I think it’s time that better minds than mine began to apply themselves to this problem.
This video has been making the rounds Monday morning, and it’s pretty tough to watch.
At about the one-minute mark Team Canada’s world junior captain Patrice Cormier comes off the Rouyn-Noranda bench, skates through centre ice and lays out Quebec’s Mikael Tam with a vicious elbow to the head.
Ironically, of the three leagues that comprise the Canadian Hockey League, it’s the Q that has a reputation of a softer, finesse style of play that emphasizes goaltending and skilled scorers. The events of this weekend underscored the fact that this really is not the case.
According to TSN.ca: “Following the hit, Tam was convulsing on the ice before being taken off on a stretcher. Tam suffered trauma to the skull and brain and lost many teeth. He is now in stable condition in hospital and will remain under observation for at least two days.”
Although I followed the results of that game, the summary really didn’t do justice to the viciousness of that hit. After all, "Penalties: ROU - Patrice Cormier (03:32)(maj.), ROU - Patrice Cormier (03:32)(match)" isn't much of a story.
As TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted: “This Cormier elbow is sickening on so many levels. I have never been so discouraged about the game of hockey as now.”
The QMJHL’s Disciplinary Prefect, Raymond Bolduc, is currently investigating the incident, and the league will take action in the next day or two. I expect that Cormier is looking at some lengthy time away from the ice.
Watching the Tam video is reminiscent of Cormier’s hit in a preliminary World Junior Championship match against Sweden where he hit Sweden's Anton Rodin with an elbow and bloodied his nose.
I thought Cormier took unnecessary penalties throughout the WJC tournament, and his actions definitely hurt Team Canada’s performance in the playoff rounds.
Also on Sunday, Bolduc suspended Tommy Tremblay of the Shawinigan Cataractes for four games. Bolduc found that Tremblay had been the aggressor in a fight with the Victoriaville Tigers’ Guillaume Goulet.
The left-winger earned two game misconducts during the game, and the league tacked on another two after reviewing videotape of the incident on Saturday. Additionally, the Cataractes were fined $500.
I follow the QMJHL pretty closely, in fact, it’s my favourite junior hockey league. Although it’s not nearly as rough and tumble as the Western Hockey League, I think its physicality is under-rated.
Although line brawls (like the one that happened between the Vancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars Saturday night) are rare in Quebec, the QMJHL has its fair share of truculence.