The Drummondville Voltigeurs begin their first round QMJHL playoff encounter with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday night at the Centre Marcel Dionne. The Voltigeurs improved by 30 points in the standings over the previous season for a total of 92 and an record of 44-20-3-1, good for 6th overall in the “Q”. As for the Screaming Eagles, they posted a 32-28-6-2 record on the year with their 72 points landing them in 12th place.
The Voltigeurs are making a third straight trip to the postseason. After finishing with their best regular season record in seven years, they’ll be looking to win their first playoff series since 2014 when they eliminated the Victoriaville Tigres in five games. The franchise has one President Cup title to its credit, which it earned by defeating the Shawinigan Cataractes in a thrilling seven-game series in 2009.
The Screaming Eagles are coming off back-to-back second round playoff appearances. Last year, they needed overtime in Game 7 to defeat the Gatineau Olympiques in the opening round before bowing out to the Charlottetown Islanders in a four-game sweep during the quarter finals. Despite making 34 combined appearances in the President Cup Playoffs since the Screaming Eagles moved to Cape Breton in 1997, this marks the first time these two clubs will face off in postseason action.
The Voltigeurs and Screaming Eagles encountered one another twice during the regular season with the first matchup happening back on October 8th in Drummondville, when the two clubs engaged in a see-saw battle. Rookie center Xavier Simoneau’s goal with just over seven minutes remaining would prove to be the game winner in a 5-4 Voltigeurs victory. Simoneau would add an assist, while Egor Sokolov scored twice for the Screaming Eagles and Mathias Laferrière chipped in with three assists for Cape Breton.
Their return match on December 9th in Sydney proved to be a one-goal game as well. After Robert Lynch and Xavier Bernard provided Drummondville with a two-goal lead, goals by Ty Fournier and Noah Laaouan – for the latter, his first ever in the “Q” – would draw the Eagles even. But in the end, Pavel Koltygin’s goal 70 seconds into extra time earned the Voltigeurs a 3-2 overtime win over Cape Breton.
The Voltigeurs made one of the biggest splashes during the holiday trade period, acquiring center Joe Veleno from the Saint John Sea Dogs. It was a move that paid dividends, as the projected first round NHL draft pick recorded 48 points in 33 games with Drummondville. Also leading the offensive charge for Drummondville was defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, whose 69 points placed him in a three-way tie for second in scoring amongst all Q blueliners. In all, six players reached the 20-goal plateau for the Voltigeurs, while sophomore goaltender Olivier Rodrigue posted 31 wins and three shutouts between the pipes.
The Eagles were led offensively by overage center Phélix Martineau, who recorded 34 goals and 66 points. Rookie Russian winger Egor Sokolov produced 42 points, while Adam MacCormick registered 37 points from the blueline. Brooklyn Kalmikov (36 points) and Ryan Francis (34 points), selected in the first and second rounds of the 2017 QMJHL Draft respectively, put up solid freshman totals to help the Eagles as well.
Though they now coach in different divisions, Eagles’ bench boss Marc-Andre Dumont and Drummondville coach Dominique Ducharme are familiar to one another through Ducharme’s tenure as Head Coach of the Halifax Mooseheads. Also of note, should the Voltigeurs go deep into the playoffs, they may want to send a thank you note to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. All three of Drummondville’s 20-year-olds – forwards Connor Bramwell, Morgan Adams-Moisan and Yvon Mongo – previously suited up for the Armada.
Drummondville Voltigeurs team profile
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles team profile