Around the QMJHL: March 20th to 24th

In playoff mode

It came down to the very last day of the QMJHL regular season to know all of the 16 teams that would take part in the playoffs. The Rimouski Océanic were the final team that qualified, while the Sherbrooke Phoenix saw their season end with their 68th game. The long road to the President Cup will start with eight first-round match ups. Each Maritime team will be facing a team from Québec. Here is the complete schedule for the first round of the President’s Cup. Details

Playoff fever surrounds CHL

Though it seems the London Knights hoisted the Memorial Cup in Red Deer just yesterday, another season has come to an end and the playoffs are upon us once again as 48 CHL teams set out to win it all. Series from coast-to-coast get underway on Thursday and Friday as the journey to the Memorial Cup begins. All eyes are on the Saint John Sea Dogs as serious contenders after winning the QMJHL’s regular season title with 102 points. Winners of nine of their last 10, Saint John is built to win now with the goaltending of Carolina Hurricanes prospect Callum Booth stabilizing a start-studded blue line featuring Ottawa Senators first round pick Thomas Chabot, Boston Bruins prospect Jakub Zboril and recently acquired veteran Simon Bourque. The Sea Dogs are powered offensively by Canadian World Junior Team standouts Julien Gauthier and Mathieu Joseph along with top scorer Matthew Highmore, 30-goal man Spencer Smallman, power winger Bokondji Imama and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Nathan Noel. Who can step up to challenge Saint John? The defending QMJHL Champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, always-competitive Shawinigan Cataractes, Maritimes Division opponent Charlottetown Islanders and defensively sound Blainville-Boisbriand Armada would undoubtedly like a chance. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Vitalii Abramov of the Gatineau Olympiques claimed the QMJHL scoring title with 104 points including 46 goals and 58 assists in 66 games. The Olympiques will face the seventh ranked Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the first round of the QMJHL Playoffs. Tyler Boland helped the Rimouski Oceanic sneak into the QMJHL Playoffs as the 16th seed. The overage centreman led all players with 48 goals and finished a point behind Abramov with 103 on the campaign. The Drummondville Voltigeurs and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada get the QMJHL Playoffs started on Thursday before an eight game schedule rolls out on Friday.

Montpetit, Sprong and Dobson named the three stars of the week

Étienne Montpetit, Daniel Sprong et Noah Dobson were named today the three stars of the week, for the period from March 6th to 12th 2017.

The first star of the week is Val-d’Or Foreurs’ goaltender, Étienne Montpetit. In three games on the road, where he faced an average of 33 shots per game, the 19-year old veteran won two matchups, maintained an 1.95 goals-against average and a 0.942 save percentage. Last Wednesday against the Sherbrooke Phoenix, he made 26 saves in a 3-2 victory, an important game game both teams for a playoff spot. On Friday, in a 3-2 loss to the Victoriaville Tigres, he was named the 2nd star with 31 stops, his team being dominated 34-19 in the shots category. On Saturday afternoon against the Shawinigan Cataractes, he was sparkling, blocking 40 of the 41 shots aimed at him, while adding three shootout saves, leading his team to a 2-1 victory. With this last win, the Foreurs finish 14th in the league and will meet the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL’s first playoff round.

The second star of the week is Charlottetown Islanders’ forward Daniel Sprong. In three games, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect amassed seven points, including six helpers. Against the Halifax Mooseheads, he obtained three assists, including two in the third period, which allowed the Islanders to rally from a three-goal deficit, forcing extra-time, and eventually losing 6-5. On Friday night against the Saint John Sea Dogs, he scored his 32nd goal in his 30th game and added two assists in a 6-3 win. Finally, on Saturday against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, he added a helper in a 5-2 loss. Sprong completes the regular season with the best points per game average of the League with 1.9 (59 points in 31 games).

The third star of the week is Acadie-Bathurst Titan defenseman, Noah Dobson. In three games on the road, the 17-year-old rookie scored two goals, including a game-winner, for a total of four points and finished the week with a +7 rating. Wednesday against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, he obtained an assist in a 6-4 loss. Friday against the Moncton Wildcats, he earned three points, a personal high, as well as the game-winning goal and was named the first star of the game in an 8-2 victory. Then Saturday, in a 5-2 win in Charlottetown against the Islanders, he finished the game with a +2 rating and one hit. He finishes the season with a +34 rating, the highest amongst all rookies in the league.

Head coach Mario Pouliot to stay in Bathurst

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan announced that they have extended the contract of actual head coach Mario Pouliot for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. Under Pouliot’s leadership over the past three seasons, the Titan has enjoyed a steady progression that has seen the team achieve their first winning season in six years, all the while developing several talents who have either graduated to the professional and university ranks, or are on the cusp of reaching those levels. The native of St-Hyacinthe, QC joined the Titan ahead of the 2014-2015 season after serving as an assistant coach with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and was previously the head coach of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Named to the Quebec Midget-AAA Hockey League’s Hall of Fame in 2011, Pouliot continues to bring a wealth of knowledge behind the bench and will continue to do so for another two seasons.

Sprong, Booth and Myers named three stars for the month of March

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced that Daniel Sprong, Callum Booth and Philippe Myers were named the three stars of the month of March.

The first star of the month of March is Charlottetown Islanders forward, Daniel Sprong. In nine games, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospect scored 12 goals for a 22-point crop, including two game-winning goals and finished the month with a +10 rating. He collected six multi-point games and found the back of the net in six of the nine games in which he took part. His best performance came on March 8th when he scored four goals and three assists. His seven points tied the franchise record (Montreal / PEI / Charlottetown) in a 12-3 win over Moncton. In addition, his four goals also tied the club’s franchise. He completed the 2016-17 campaign with the highest points per game average in the QMJHL (1.9), while he scored 59 points in 31 games. Of the 28 players who scored 30 goals, he is the only one who maintained an average of more than 1 goal per game (1.03). He is named the 1st star of the month for a second consecutive month.

The second star of the month is Saint John Sea Dogs goaltender, Callum Booth. In five games where he was credited with the win in all of them, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect maintained a 1.20 goals-against average and 0.946 save percentage, as well as obtaining one shutout. He conceded only six goals during the month. In addition, he posted an efficiency of 0.950 in four of his five starts. On March 15, in his last regular season game, he blanked the Moncton Wildcats, making 17 saves in a convincing 5-0 win. The 19-year-old goaltender is on fire, with no losses in regulation in his last 10 games (9-0-1-0). He finishes the season with the best save percentage with 0.911, as well as the highest number of victories with 31, tied with Mikhail Denisov of the Shawinigan Cataractes.

The third star is Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman, Philippe Myers. In eight games, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect amassed 11 points, including two goals and maintained a +7 rating. His best game came on March 12th against the Val-d’Or Foreurs where he collected four points (1 goal, 3 assists), five shots on net and a +2 rating, in 9-3 win. He also had no negative ratings in the plus/minus category. He is one of five QMJHL defenseman to complete the season with an average of points per game over 1.00, a crop of 35 points in 34 games.

CIBC Showdown

This week, the QMJHL’s representative for the Canadian Hockey League’s CIBC Showdown is Ivan Kosorenkov of the Victoriaville Tigres. His opponents are Max Jones of the London Knights (OHL) and Tyson Gruninger (WHL). Link

Darren Rumble to lead Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 team at World Championship

Darren Rumble (Barrie, Ont./Moncton, QMJHL) returns to the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence men’s under-18 program, this time as Team Canada’s head coach at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship. Rumble, an assistant coach with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in 2015 and 2016, winning gold in his first appearance, will be assisted by Steve Hamilton (Edmonton/Edmonton, WHL) and Stéphane Julien (Shawinigan, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL). Rounding out this year’s coaching staff are Jory Stuparyk (Vermilion, Alta./Edmonton, WHL) as video coach, and Fred Brathwaite (Ottawa/Hockey Canada) as goaltending consultant. Rumble’s head-coaching experience spans two seasons with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, and he just finished his fourth season with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. In addition to his experience with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Rumble was an assistant coach at the 2013 IIHF World Championship, Division II with Iceland, winning bronze. His playing career included 193 NHL games with Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay, as well as stints in the AHL and IHL. Rumble also played three seasons with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. Details

Three QMJHL teams in final CHL Top 10 Rankings

On Wednesday, the Canadian Hockey League announced the composition of the CHL Top 10 Rankings. The best junior team in Canada last week, the Sea Dogs were unable to maintain the top spot and unfortunately ended up third behind the Regina Pats (1st/WHL) and the Erie Otters (2nd/OHL). The Charlottetown Islanders also slipped, finishing the year in the seventh rung. As for the Huskies of Rouyn-Noranda, the last team in the QMJHL among the rankings, they close the march, installed in the tenth spot. In the honourable mentions, we have the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Details

Third annual #QSocial

The Quebec Major Hockey League is proud to present the third annual QSocial Hashtag voting campaign where fans will be able to use specific hashtags on social media to vote for players from #QNation. Voting will close the night before the Golden Puck Award Ceremony. The winner will be chosen by the amount of Impressions that their hashtag receives on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Nominees were chosen based on the following elements

1. Social Media Activity in support of the player’s team and the league throughout the season.

2. Recommendations from #QNation Staff, Fans and Teammates based their perception of the player’s interaction and positive involvement with fans and his other players.

The hashtags can be used as many times as the users want to use them but note that Impressions are what will determine the winner so getting retweets and shares on your hashtag posts should be the ideal method of helping your favourite player win! Details

Armada awarded the Robert-Lebel trophy

Before the game, Joël Bouchard’s team was rewarded for their efforts throughout the season. The Armada received the Robert-Lebel Trophy in a pre-game ceremony. This trophy is awarded to the team with the best goals-against average in the regular season. The trophy was presented to Armada’s captain Guillaume Beaudoin, assistant captains TJ melancon and Yvan Mongo by Jean-Sébastien Giguère and his three kids.

Drakkar fined

The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League imposed at $2 500 fine to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for comments made by its General manger, Steve Ahern.

Listen and watch

To listen to all the playoff games of your favorite team, go to our website and click on the “Live” tab so you do not miss anything.

Upcoming games:

Friday March 24th: 8 games

(16) Rimouski Océanic at (1) Saint John Sea Dogs – 7:00 pm AST

Series tied 0-0

(13) Baie-Comeau Drakkar at (4) Charlottetown Islanders – 7:00 pm AST

Series tied 0-0

(10) Gatineau Olympiques at (7) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – 7:00 pm AST

Series tied 0-0

(11) Québec Remparts at (6) Acadie-Bathurst Titan – 7:00 pm AST

Series tied 0-0

(14) Val-d’Or Foreurs at (3) Shawinigan Cataractes – 7:30 pm EST

La série est égale 0-0

(12) Drummondville Voltigeurs at (5) Blainville-Boisbriand Armada – 7:30 pm EST

Armada leads series 1-0

(15) Halifax Mooseheads at (2) Rouyn-Noranda Huskies – 7:30 pm EST

Series tied 0-0

(9) Victoriaville Tigres at (8) Chicoutimi Saguenéens – 7:30 pm EST

Series tied 0-0

Saturday March 25th: 7 games

(14) Val-d’Or Foreurs at (3) Shawinigan Cataractes – 4:00 pm EST

Game #2

(9) Victoriaville Tigres at (8) Chicoutimi Saguenéens – 4:00 pm EST

Game #2

(16) Rimouski Océanic at (1) Saint John Sea Dogs – 7:00 pm AST

Game #2

(13) Baie-Comeau Drakkar at (4) Charlottetown Islanders – 7:00 pm AST

Game #2

(10) Gatineau Olympiques at (7) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – 7:00 pm AST

Game #2

(11) Québec Remparts at (6) Acadie-Bathurst Titan – 7:00 pm AST

Game #2

(15) Halifax Mooseheads at (2) Rouyn-Noranda Huskies – 7:00 pm  EST

Game #2

Sunday March 26th: 1 game

(5) Blainville-Boisbriand Armada at (12) Drummondville Voltigeurs – 4:00 pm EST

Game #3

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