Let’s give way to the 44th finals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League! In history, 14 of the 26 franchises to have evolved in the QMJHL have won the President Cup at least once. But both sides in the 2013 finals are still looking for their first title in the playoffs. Between the Halifax Mooseheads and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who will raise the President Cup for the first time in its history? Two very different but equally effective teams: The best defense (Baie-Comeau | 1.67) opposed to an explosive offensive (Halifax | 5.57)! Make your predictions, the answer will follow in the upcoming days! Visit our special section: “2013 President Cup“.
THE FINAL CONFRONTATION – FINAL BEST OF 7
(#1 – 120 points in regular season, 58 victories | has just eliminated successively Saint John, Gatineau and Rouyn-Noranda)
(#2 – 93 points in regular season, 44 victories | has just eliminated successively Sherbrooke, Victoriaville and Blainville-Boisbriand)
TEAMS AT FULL THROTTLE
- THE HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS –
- Halifax – the Mooseheads have not lost in regulation time in their last 29 games (17 in regular season plus 12 playoff games). The record (35) was achieved by the 2004-05 edition of the Rimouski Océanic.
- Halifax – the Mooseheads have participated twice in the finals of the QMJHL, in 2003 and 2005. The first time, the Hull Olympiques had made a recovery in the decisive series, turning a 2-3 deficit into a 4-3 win, on the Mooseheads ice. Two years later in 2005, the number one attraction of the League, Sidney Crosby, and his teammates of the Rimouski Océanic, had sent the Moose on vacation after a sweep in 4 games.
- Halifax – “Power Play! “The representatives of Nova Scotia have scored 20 goals on the power play since March 22nd, hitting with an efficiency of 31% when they have a numerical advantage.
- Halifax – In the last semi-final series against the Huskies in four games only, they scored 23 times, allowing 16 goals. The last time the Mooseheads had been involved in a series that offensive, it was in the 2005 finals, while in 4 games only, 41 goals were scored by the 2 clubs (Rimouski, 25 | Halifax, 16).
- Halifax – the team’s defensive brigade allowed only 21 shots per game on average since day 1 of the 2013 series. The Mooseheads are scoring an average of 2.02 goals per game.
THE BAIE-COMEAU DRAKKAR–
- Baie-Comeau – the Drakkar celebrates its first appearance in the final of the President Cup. Headed by Richard Martel, the team from the North Shore of Quebec, which began its operations in the League in 1997-1998, came very close to reaching the finals in spring of 2003, but lost in 7 games (3-4) to … the Halifax Mooseheads! Two years before, in 2001, the Drakkar also made it to the semifinals and lost to Acadie-Bathurst (2-4).
- Baie-Comeau – the Drakkar has allowed only 23 goals in 14 playoff games, an average of 1.63. Eric Veilleux’s men play with intensity, relentlessly, so they were sentenced to an average of nine minor penalties per game in their recent series against Blainville-Boisbriand. However, in 14 playoff games, their efficiency shorthanded was 87.4%.
- All undefeated at home – The two finalists have not been defeated yet in front of their supporters since the beginning of the series: Baie-Comeau’s sheet is 7-0, as that displayed by Halifax is equally impressive (6 – 0).
THE 2 COACHES HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: HAWKESBURY
- Dominique Ducharme (Halifax) – he is in his second season as head coach of the Mooseheads, but in the playoffs, his team won 5 series out of 6 in 2 years (22 wins in 29 games | winning percentage of .759 ). He celebrated a few times over the years, among others in the Junior AAA as head coach of Joliette, where he won the NAPA Cup twice in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, his team had also won the National Junior A Championship in Eastern Canada, the Fred Page Cup. | As a player in 1991 with the Ontario Hawkesbury club, he was the winner of the series of the CCHL, a Junior A type of league, with teammate… Eric Veilleux!
- Eric Veilleux (Baie-Comeau) – he accumulated no less than 681 games, including 81 in the playoffs in the QMJHL … and lots of success! As head coach, his crown jewel remains the impressive performance of the Shawinigan Cataractes, who were able to achieve what many thought impossible: win the Memorial Cup in 2012 after playing a tiebreaker game in the tournament, never seen before! In 2009, at the helm of the Cat’s, his team played one of the greatest finals in the history of the QMJHL, losing 4-3 in a series which reached the 7 game-limit against the Drummondville Voltigeurs. | | 20 years ago this spring, in 1993, Eric Veilleux lifted the President Cup with the Laval Titan as a player. Then 20 years old, he finished his junior career with 20 points in 13 games as the third top scorer of his team in the playoffs behind Philippe Boucher (21) and Martin Lapointe (30). | | In the American League with the Hershey Bears in 1997, it was time to capture the Calder Cup; Veilleux had once again enjoyed the honors of post-season series , with a strong personal performance of 21 points in 23 games, while his coach Robert “Bob” Hartley gave him a generous ice time. The latter coached him for 9 seasons, almost everywhere he went, and as a player, the series were a success (Hawkesbury, Junior A (2 seasons / 2 Championships), Laval, QMJHL (seasons 2 /1 championship) and Hershey, AHL (5 seasons / 1 championship)). | | In 2005, in his first steps as a head coach with Hawkesbury (Junior A League of Ontario) his troop won successively the Bogart Cup (championship CHLJA) and the Fred Page Cup (League of Eastern Canada).
- Philippe Cadorette (BAC) – received an average of 25 shots per game in the playoffs, and has shown consistency and efficiency, while in 10 of his 13 games series he conceded only 2 goals or less; his worst game was a 4-3 loss against the Armada in the fourth game of the semifinals. At home, he has won each of his last 10 post-season games. He currently dominates some statistics columns in the playoffs: best goals against average (1.69), save percentage (.933), shutouts (2 tied with Fucale) … A possible record for Cadorette, if he manages to maintain this rate, the League’s record for best goals against average in the playoffs in the same year as that of David Tremblay (1.96 | 2003-04 | GAT).
- Zachary Fucale (HAL) – saw his save percentage go from .938 to .903 after 4 games against the Huskies in the last series, allowing 16 goals in 4 games. He still shows the second best goals against average of the 2013 series with a 2.02 average.
- Felix Girard (BAC) – he’s the most effective centre of the Drakkar in face offs in the QMJHL with a percentage of face offs won of 59.4%. He’s ranked 2nd in the QMJHL, just behind Nathan MacKinnon (HAL | 61.2%). Two of MacKinnon other teammates who appear among the best in faceoffs are Darcy Ashley (57.9%) and Brent Andrews (54.5%).
- Valentin Zykov (BAC) – exploded with 8 points in 6 games against Blainville-Boisbriand, while 2 of his 4 goals were victorious. The 17-year-old shows a scoresheet of 15 points in 14 games, and his differential of + / – in the playoffs in 2013 is +13, the best performance among rookies.
- Brandon Duke (HAL) and Alexandre Chênevert (BAC) – among defencemen, the two opponents are the two best records “Plus-Minus” in the playoffs, Duke (+18) and Chênevert (+16)
- Stefan Fournier (HAL) – the 20-year-old forward veteran of the Mooseheads is the top scorer of the 2013 series, having scored on 13 occasions so far in 12 games. He’s proving very effective on the road where he scored 13 of his 25 points.
- Carl Gélinas (BAC) – involved in the MacKinnon transaction, the 20-year-old native of Shawinigan has played 22 games in the series in his career in the uniform of the Drakkar, scoring 24 points. This last total places him in the 1st rank among active players for Baie-Comeau, while the team record is the one of Yanick Lehoux (36 | 1999-2002)
Nathan MacKinnon (HAL) – Less than 2 years ago … The Halifax sensation, let’s remember, was selected first overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in June 2011. But the young man from Cole Harbour refused to report to Baie-Comeau, before being traded to his hometown team in the end.
This is what this historic transaction brought the two teams:
1. 2011-08-02 – Nathan MacKinnon is traded to the Mooseheads when their General Manager, Cam Russell, agrees with his counterpart in Baie-Comeau, Steve Ahern. In turn, the Drakkar retains the services of forwards Carl Gélinas (19 years old) and Francis Turbide (18 years old), in addition to three 1st round draft picks at QMJHL draft (one for 2012 and the other 2 for 2013 ).
2. 2012-06-09 – the Drakkar picked a 6’04 defenceman, Alexis Vanier with the 1st round pick acquired from Halifax.
3. 2013-01-02 – Dominic Poulin (18 years old) is acquired from Gatineau, the Drakkar traded in return Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin (16 years old) and its 1st round pick acquired from Halifax for the 2013 entry Draft.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that getting another 1st round pick from the Mooseheads (one of Québec City in 2013, which will be the 15th overall), has given ammunition to General Manager Steve Ahern to conclude another major deal, this time with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. Then, in January, Baie-Comeau yielded his 1st 2013 draft pick (which will be the 18th overall) and the 1st round one for 2014, with Loik Léveillé and Thomas Gobeil, in return for forward Jeremy Gregory (17 years old) and veteran goaltender Francis Desrosiers (19 years old).
- Nathan MacKinnon (56 points / 29 games) and Jonathan Drouin (55 points / 29 games) (HAL) – both beat the former record held with the Mooseheads by Brandon Benedict. Their recent performances against Rouyn-Noranda have propelled them ahead of Benedict, he who had amassed 54 points from 1999 to 2003, making him the record holder of the most points in career in playoffs for Halifax.
- Jonathan Drouin (HAL) – 6 game-winning goals in career during the playoffs, including 2 this year, turned him into the Mooseheads player with the most records. In the QMJHL, Jacques Jr Locas, with 9 winning goals, ranks 1st of all times. In addition, Drouin displays 11 points on the power play, all collected through assists. He ranks 2nd among scorers in the playoffs in 2013, with 29 points, including 10 goals, and will be looking for a goal in a 6th straight game on Friday at the opening of the finals.
- Baie-Comeau – on April 20th against Blainville-Boisbriand in the second game of the semifinals, the Drakkar tied a QMJHL record by not conceding any shots to the opponent during one period. It was only the 5th time in the history of the QMJHL that such a feat was achieved.
- Halifax – with 12 consecutive wins in the playoffs, the Mooseheads can always match or beat the record of 15 straight wins in the playoffs, achieved only by the Hull Olympiques in 1986, a perfect 15-0 mark. The last team having approached the goal was the Drummondville Voltigeurs (2009) which lost after 13 consecutive wins.
- Nathan MacKinnon / Jonathan Drouin (HAL) – seek a 11th straight game with at least one point.
- Petr Straka (BAC) – His 61 points in series in career make him the leader among active players in the League, ahead of Nathan MacKinnon (56) and Jonathan Drouin (55) … The #23 of the Drakkar scored 3 game-winning goals since the start of the playoffs. Straka will take part in his second finals in a row; last year he wore the colors of Rimouski when the Océanic lost 4 straight games against Saint John. Remember that Straka had experienced an incredible series last year facing Halifax during the semifinals, he then amassed 11 points (3+8) in 6 games, leading the Océanic to the finals.
- Stephen MacAuley (HAL) – he’s reached 70 games played in the series in career. Unattainable this season, the record of 78 games is co-owned by Marc Bouchard (1995-1999 | CHI-BAT) and Danny Groulx (1998-2002 | VDO-BAT-VIC).
- Eric Veilleux (BAC) – is only 3 victories away from reaching the plateau of 50 wins in the QMJHL playoffs.
A LITTLE HISTORY, the President Cup in numbers
- The 20-year-old veteran of the Mooseheads Stephen MacAuley will be reaching his 4th consecutive appearance in the finals of the President Cup this year, a rare occurrence that Jacques Jr Locas had achieved with the Québec Remparts in the early 1970s. Previously with the Saint John Sea Dogs, MacAulay has had a chance to raise the trophy in two occasions (2011 and 2012). Only 7 players have won 3 President Cups – This could be the case for MacAuley in a few days – but the last to manage a tour de force of the kind was Danny Groulx with Victoriaville in 2002, after winning top honors with Val-d’Or (1998) and Acadie-Bathurst (1999).
- Since 2006, in 5 occasions out of a possible 7, a team based outside the province of Quebec won the President Cup: Moncton (NB, 2006), Lewiston (USA, 2007), Moncton (NB, 2010), and Saint John on 2 occasions (NB, 2011 | 2012). No team from Nova Scotia has yet laid hands on the ultimate trophy so far; Halifax has the opportunity to do so this year.
- A number of “franchises” of the QMJHL won the President Cup in their first appearance in the finals: Québec (1970), Cornwall (1972), Sherbrooke (1975), Trois-Rivières (1978), Hull (1986 ) and Val-d’Or (1998). Fifteen years after the Foreurs, it could be the Baie-Comeau Drakkar’s turn to live through such an intoxicating moment on its 1st opportunity.