What team will manage to stop the Foreurs who are now winners of 12 games in a row? Now that three division winners are all locked up, the question remains which one will come away with the Jean Rougeau Trophy: Rimouski, Moncton or Blainville-Boisbriand? At the other end of the spectrum, the Voltigeurs could still write a Hollywood ending and make the playoffs.
BATTLE FOR THE JEAN ROUGEAU TROPHY
- Top spot in the QMJHL – Rimouski seems to have a leg up on the rest with now 91 points in the bank. The Oceanic are finishing up strong, having not lost in regulation over their last seven (6-0-1-0). The competition will be stiff the rest of the way with a pair of games in Baie-Comeau this weekend followed by matchups with Shawinigan and Quebec (two games) next weekend. So that’s three games over their five on the road. The Oceanic boast two other first-overall finishes, in 1999-2000 and in 2004-05.
- Moncton (89 points) – Even though the Wildcats sit only two points back of Rimouski, they will need three more than the Oceanic to pass them. Should both teams end up tied in points, the tie-breaker would become wins excluding those in shootouts. Moncton has seven shootout wins, so their wins are 36 (43-7) while the Oceanic are at 40 (43-3). Next up for the Wildcats are tilts with Saint John and Bathurst this weekend and Halifax (twice) and Charlottetown next week. The Wildcats will play four of their last five games at Moncton Coliseum where their record is strong (.733).
- Blainville-Boisbriand (87 points) – As for the Armada, they have a tough 5-1 loss to Rouyn-Noranda yesterday to swallow. They need five points more than the Oceanic with now only four games to go. That might prove to be a tall order for Joel Bouchard’s troops who are eyeing their first regular season crown. The Armada also only have one home game left as they host Chicoutimi tonight. After they face Drummondville on Sunday, they will head to Abitibi to battle two hot teams in the Huskies and the Foreurs.
RACE TO THE PLAYOFFS
- Drummondville (17th | 54 pts | 64 games) – The moment of truth is here for the Voltigeurs. They can’t afford to lose another game to close out the season. Tonight they will face the Gatineau Olympics (16th | 60 pts | 64 games), a team that has saved their season with 16 points in their last 10 games (7-1-0-2).
- Storybook ending? – That’s exactly what the Voltigeurs need to end up in 16th place and make the playoffs. They need to win their next three games in regulation as they prepare to face Gatineau twice before playing Blainville-Boisbriand on Sunday. On top of this, Victoriaville must lose their next three games. That would set up a showdown on Saturday, March 21 in Victoriaville with the teams tied at 60 points with the last available playoff spot on the line!
- Nicholas Aubé-Kubel (Val-d’Or) – Busy riding a 15-game point streak, Aube-Kubel’s run is the fourth-longest in the QMJHL this season. Of his 76 total points on the campaign, 46 of them have come on the road, good enough for an impressive 61% of his production coming away from home. Of the league’s other scorers in the Top 20, only two have more road points than at home : Daniel Sprong (Charlottetown | 54.4% | 43 pts) and Maxim Lazarev (Cape Breton | 52% | 39 pts).
- Val-d’Or – Last Wednesday the Foreurs won their 12th straight game with a 5-2 win in Drummondville. That victory set a new club record, eclipsing the old mark of 11 set back in 2000-01 when their stars were Simon Gamache, Brandon Reid and of course current Foreurs GM Alexandre Rouleau.
- Alex Dubeau (Moncton) – He could become the first goalie in Wildcats history to reach the 100-win mark all with Moncton. With now 98 wins, he has already surpassed Corey Crawford (96). Over his entire career in the QMJHL, Dubeau sits second all time with 135 wins, just seven back of leader Jacques Cloutier (142). At 38 wins on the season, he is close to being the 13th goalie in Q to ever win 40 games in a season. Potentially not a bad way for the 20-year-old to cap off his last season in the junior ranks as Dubeau also boasts a 3.00 GAA over his career.
- Rimouski – The Oceanic has been hard at work rewriting their own record book with 23 shorthanded goals on the season, breaking their previous franchise best of 21 set in 2003-04. It should come as no surprise that Rimouski is the top penalty killing team in the league at 83.25%, having allowed only 54 goals.
- Daniel Bechard/Denis Drolet – Reaching 1,000 games as a QMJHL linesman is nothing to sneeze at, and that’s exactly what these two zebras will have accomplished this season. Bechard reached the mark last weekend after having had 13 seasons with 50 games or more. As for Drolet, his 1,000 game plateau for regular season and playoffs games combined will come when Val-d’Or faces Quebec tomorrow night. Hats off to these two passionate officials have racked up a lot of travel mileage over the years. Congrats gentlemen!
- Daniel Sprong (Charlottetown) – He will be looking to extend his scoring streak to six games when his Islanders host the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Over his last five games, Sprong has racked up seven goals and five assists. His hot-stretch has also powered his team, with Charlottetown having picked up nine of a possible 10 points over that span (4-0-0-1).