John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


My weekend in junior hockey Jan. 7-10

Last weekend I was able to put some focus on the Shawinigan Cataractes as they upset the Quebec Remparts.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

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.


My weekend in junior hockey, Nov. 12-14 2010

Chris DiDomenico, formerly of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, weighs in.

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

“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
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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

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.


My weekend in junior hockey Oct. 1-3

The Saulnier brothers have been a pleasant surprise this season.

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

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

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. 

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.


My Weekend in Junior Hockey – Sept. 24-26

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault of the Quebec Remaprts has been having a career year just weeks into the QMJHL season.

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.


My weekend in junior hockey, May 7th-10th 2010

Nicholas PetersonIt’s getting harder and harder to actually call these posts “My weekend in junior hockey”.

After all, the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League didn’t have any games on Saturday or Sunday after the Windsor Spitfires swept the Barrie Colts out of the playoffs and the Calgary Hitmen took out the Tri-City Americans in five games.

The Spitfires wrapped up their series last Tuesday with a decisive 6-2 victory over a rattled Barrie. Calgary finished off the Americans on Friday with an equally strong 6-1 showing.

This leaves just the Moncton Wildcats and the Saint John Sea Dogs to settle the outcome of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup.

Moncton has a 3-2 edge on the series, but it would be foolhardy to count the Sea Dogs out just yet. After all, Saint John skated to the regular season championship with a 53-12-3 record, five points ahead of the second place Drummondville Voltigeurs and seven points beyond the Wildcats.

Their regular season match-ups were very close, with a 4-3-1 record tilting in favour of the Sea Dogs. That said, five of those games went to extra time, so this is a decidedly close pairing.

For one of these teams to prevail and face the Brandon Wheat Kings, Hitmen or Windsor in the Memorial Cup tournament they’ll need their defence to step up.

In their five games, the lowest shot count was Saint John’s 26 in Game 1. Since then, totals have routinely been above 30, with some games seeing as many as 44 shots on net.

Both teams from New Brunswick need to bear down and slow down the game’s pace if they want to survive.

For Moncton to achieve this they’ll need defencemen Mark Barberio, David Savard and Brandon Gormley to continue to lock down the Sea Dogs’ best forwards.

Saint John will look to winger Nicholas Petersen as well as rearguards Nathan Beaulieu and Yann Sauve to be lights out in their own end.


My weekend in junior hockey, April 30th – May 2nd

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall and the Windsor Spitfires have a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Barrie Colts.

In any playoff final there is the expectation that the teams will be pretty evenly matched. After all, they’ve survived the regular season and the first few rounds of the post-season.

This year though, the Canadian Hockey League finals across the nation are all well in hand. In fact, they could all end up as four-game sweeps.

Here in Ontario, the focus has been on the Windsor Spitfires’ dominance of the Barrie Colts.

The defending Memorial Cup champions looked to be dead in the water after falling behind the Mississauga  St. Michael’s Majors 3-0 in their Ontario Hockey League semifinal match-up. But the Spitfires rallied to win that series 4-3 and now they are up on the Colts 3-0.

I covered the second game of that series for the Canadian Press and it was clear from the action what the problem is: Windsor absolutely owns the neutral zone. Several of their goals came from turnovers between the blue-lines and Barrie could barely get the puck over half.

Out in New Brunswick, the Moncton Wildcats have also quickly established a 2-0 lead over the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final, including a 9-3 thumping in Game 2.

Things are even more lopsided in the Western Hockey League, as the Calgary Hitmen opened their series against the Tri-City Americans with a resounding 7-0 victory. They followed that up with a 4-1 victory to take a two-game lead in the series.

As a fan, I’m disappointed that these series are going by so quickly. Ideally, all series would be close with lots of back-and-forth between the two teams.

That said, good for the Moncton Wildcats, Windsor Spitfires and Calgary Hitmen. They should be proud of themselves for coming out so strong in the crucial step to the Memorial Cup. It's too bad that it comes at the expense of some high drama.


My weekend in junior hockey, April 16-18

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.


My weekend in junior hockey, April 9-11

The Western Hockey League's Ed Chynoweth Cup should be the most hotly contested championship in the Canadian Hockey League this year.

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...)


My weekend in junior hockey, Feb. 5-7

Michael Kirkpatrick of the Saint John Sea Dogs has quietly become one of the QMJHL's most consistent scorers.

There were some big match-ups this weekend in the Canadian Hockey League.

The first, and the one I was most excited about, was Saturday night’s main event in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats had to go to the shootout to decide who the winner would be.

Saint John prevailed 5-4, with Michael Kirkpatrick leading the way with a goal and two assists. He might not be the biggest name on the Sea Dogs roster, but Kirkpatrick been a consistent scorer all season and as an alternate captain is clearly revered in Saint John’s locker room.

Also, you’ll be happy to note that I refrained from calling this game the Battle of New Brunswick. Cliché dodged!

That same night the Western Hockey League saw an even closer rivalry, as the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings locked horns. Again, the game went to extra time with Saskatoon edging Brandon 4-3 in overtime.

With the win the Blades moved into first place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, even though the Wheat Kings have picked up points in their last eight games. And, as predicted in this very space the Calgary Hitmen have moved into second in the Conference.

The other notable game this weekend was also in the WHL, with the Prince George Cougars hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night. In the battle of the two worst records in the league, Prince George came out on top 4-1, snapping their 13-game losing streak.

Never fear Edmonton hockey fans, the Oil Kings won the rubber match on Saturday, taming the Cougars 5-2.

Sunday was a pretty light day with four games in the Ontario Hockey League and just one in the QMJHL. Most significantly, Adam Comrie kept the Guelph Storm's playoff hopes alive with goals that sparked a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67's.

Apparently there was some sort of football game that evening that the hockey leagues didn't want to compete against.

Friday Feb. 5 2010
QMJHL – Victoriaville tops Drummondville to jump in standings
The Victoriaville Tigres struck a blow in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's standings Friday night.

Brandon Hynes and Emmanuel Boudreau both had a goal and an assist as the Tigres downed the Drummondville Voltigeurs 5-2 in QMJHL action. (See more...)

OHL - Lindsay’s big night lifts Ottawa to win over Belleville
Cody Lindsay did it at both ends of the ice Friday night.

Lindsay had two goals and an assist as the Ottawa 67's defeated the Belleville Bulls 3-2 in the Ontario Hockey League. (See more...)

WHL – Cougars drop Oil Kings to end 13-game slide
All the Prince George Cougars needed was a visit from the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Prince George snapped a 13-game losing streak Friday with a decisive 4-1 win over Edmonton in Western Hockey League play Friday night. (See more...)

Saturday, Feb. 6 2010
QMJHL - Saint John nips Moncton in shootout
The two best teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League needed the shootout to decide a winner on Saturday night.

Mike Hoffman, Tomas Jurco and Jonathan Huberdeau all scored in the shootout as the Saint John Sea Dogs tamed the Moncton Wildcats 5-4. (See more...)

OHL - McKegg scores twice as Otters eke out win over Spirit
It's been a big week for Greg McKegg.

McKegg scored twice and added an assist as the Erie Otters eked out a 4-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)

WHL – Broncos post emphatic shutout over Rebels
The Swift Current Broncos made a statement with their win Saturday night.

Morgan Clark made 37 saves as the Broncos posted their first shutout of the season, a 6-0 win over the Red Deer Rebels in Western Hockey League action Saturday night. (See more...)

Sunday, Feb. 7 2010
OHL – Comrie scores twice as Guelph keeps playoff hopes alive
Defenceman Adam Comrie stepped up in front of his hometown crowd to keep his Guelph Storm in the playoff picture.

Comrie scored twice to lift Guelph to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa 67's in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon. (See more...)


My weekend in junior hockey, Jan, 29-31

Daniel Pettersson of the white-hot Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Friday Jan. 29, 2010

QMJHL – Retooled Wildcats win 12th game in a row
“The Moncton Wildcats continue to thrive after they retooled at the trade deadline.

Daniel Pettersson had back-to-back power-play goals as Moncton doubled the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 6-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.” (Read more...)

OHL – Cameron has hat trick as Colts blank Majors
“Bryan Cameron and the Barrie Colts continue to dominate Ontario Hockey League's Central Division.

Bryan Cameron scored three goals and Mavric Parks posted his second shutout of the season as the Barrie Colts triumphed over the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 4-0 Friday night.” (Read more...)

WHL – Silvertips down Winterhawks for 13th straight win
“Simply put, the Everett Silvertips haven't lost since 2009.

Zack Dailey scored twice, including the game-winner midway through the third period, as the Everett Silvertips downed the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 in Western Hockey League action Friday night." (Read more...)

Saturday, Jan. 30 2010

QMJHL – Huberdeau has career night, Saint John pounds Val-d’Or
“Jonathan Huberdeau had the biggest game of his junior career Saturday night.

The 16-year-old forward scored three goals and set up two as the Saint John Sea Dogs crushed the Val-d'Or Foreurs 11-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.” (Read more...)

OHL – Jenks and McRae lead way as Whalers down Knights
“Captain AJ Jenks and Phil McRae were instrumental Saturday as the Plymouth Whalers continue to roll.

Jenks' goal and two assists led the Whalers to a convincing 6-1 win over the London Knights in Ontario Hockey League play.” (Read more...)

WHL: Hulak has three points as Blades down Broncos
“The Saskatoon Blades and Derek Hulak made it look easy Saturday night.

The Saskatoon Blades, led by a three-point outing from Hulak, skated to a 7-4 win over the Swift Current Broncos in Western Hockey League action.” (Read more...)

Sunday, Jan. 31 2010

QMJHL – Acadie-Bathurst edges Val-d’Or in shootout
“Julien Tremblay and Bryce Milson wanted to see the Acadie-Bathurst Titan's slide come to an end.

Tremblay and Milson scored in the shootout as Acadie-Bathurst edged the Val-d'Or Foreurs 6-5 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.” (Read more...)

OHL – Shugg scores twice as Windsor Spitfires down Sarnia
“Justin Shugg helped push the Windsor Spitfires into the post-season Sunday afternoon.

Shugg scored twice as the Windsor Spitfires defeated the Sarnia Sting 4-1 in Ontario Hockey League play.” (Read more...)

The playoff pictures in the Canadian Hockey League really started to take shape last week.

In the Ontario Hockey League the Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires both clinched spots. As last year’s Memorial Cup champions the Spitfires have been favourites all year, but they’ve been slowed by injuries and suspensions to key players like Adam Henrique and Zack Kassian.  Of course, the fact that their top line played for Team Canada in the World Juniors briefly mellowed their offence as well.

Those aren’t the only teams in the OHL though. The Ottawa 67’s, Plymouth Whalers, London Knights and Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors have looked pretty strong recently and should play their way into the postseason.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is similarly set, with the Saint John Sea Dogs and Moncton Wildcats the early favourites to win the President’s Cup. After Saint John’s historic 22-game win streak, the Sea Dogs have settled into a competitive rhythm. Now it’s Moncton that’s on a tear, winning 12 in a row, trying to play catch up to their consistent Atlantic division rivals.

The Central Division is where the action happens in the QMJHL, with the Victoriaville Tigres and Drummondville Voltigeurs side-by-side at the top of the table. Both are solid teams who’ve won six of their last 10 games, but with Drummondville earning two consecutive wins and Victoriaville dropping three straight, the division might sort itself out soon.

Like the Moncton Wildcats, the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips have been clawing their way to the top of the standings in 2010. In fact, they haven’t lost since 2009 having strung together 14 consecutive wins. However, they’re still trailing the Vancouver Giants and league-best Tri-City Americans in the West Conference standings.

In the East, the Saskatoon Blades, Medicine Hat Tigers and Brandon Wheat Kings have all established themselves as the class of the Conference.

All three will have to keep up the pace though, as the Kootenay Ice have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10 and the Calgary Hitmen shutout Tri-City 3-0 on Sunday.