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.
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...)
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...)
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.