Officially, we are in the final stretch of the regular season. And when you look closely at the standings of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as each team in the League you will understand the importance of each game. Let’s recall that the first 16 teams will participate in the playoffs, the last 2 will be eliminated. The division champions will ensure ranks # 1, 2 and 3 for all series. Note that in case of a tie in the standings at the points, the second criterion to rank teams is the number of wins excluding shootouts: http://www.lhjmq.qc.ca/standings/show/ls_season/171/subtype/1
TEAMS AT FULL THROTTLE
- Rouyn-Noranda – the Huskies visit two teams had their share of success recently, Baie-Comeau (for 2 games) and Chicoutimi. The Huskies like to play on the road. They are experiencing a sequence of 7 consecutive wins on the foreign rinks.
- Baie-Comeau – the Drakkar, ranking first in the Telus East Division (59 points), has signed a seventh straight win on Wednesday against Sherbrooke. It’s a game full of promises against the Huskies since the formation led by Eric Veilleux has won the first duel fought in Abitibi.
- Halifax – despite the absence of their offensive catalysts, Martin Frk, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin who left to represent their respective countries at the World Junior Championship, the Halifax Mooseheads still maintained an impressive record of 8 wins in 10 games during the past 4 weeks! The Mooseheads are still in the first place overall in the QMJHL with 69 points, 10 more than Baie-Comeau. Next meeting tonight at the Metro Centre, against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (53 pts, 1st of the Telus West Division).
- Rimouski – amassed 17 points out of a possible 20 recently. The Rimouski Oceanic (57 pts) is battling for first place in the Telus East Division against Baie-Comeau (59) and Quebec (53). The Océanic will play at home for the next 4 games, hosting St. John (January 11), Shawinigan (Jan. 13), Drummondville (Jan. 18) And Acadie-Bathurst (Jan. 20).
- Val-d’Or – since December 30, the Foreurs won against Rouyn-Noranda (score 8-6), Victoriaville (7-2) , Quebec (3-2) and Drummondville (5-1).
- Chicoutimi – the Saguenéens also won each of their last 4 games. They defeated the Remparts yesterday (4-1), and will be home tonight (Sherbrooke) and Sunday (Rouyn-Noranda)
- PEI – the Rocket, when it scores first, becomes almost invincible, with a percentage of points of .925. In 20 occasions they opened the score, and their scoresheet is 18-1-1. Yesterday, it was the Armada’s turn to fall victim of Rocket …
- Zachary Fucale (HAL) – in 2012-13, the 17-year old goaltender leads the QMJHL with 26 victories. The Mooseheads record – in career – for the most wins as a goaltender is Jean-Sebastien Giguère (68), while only Fucale is only 10 away from this mark with 58.
- Christopher Gibson (CHI) – is on an almost irresistible roll since December 7, having amassed 2 shutouts. No real set-backs in the last 4 weeks, a scoresheet of 7-4-0-1, averaging 1.75 and a save percentage of .946. In the League this season, he ranks first with a save percentage .918, tied with Antoine Bibeau (PEI).
- Samuel Carrier (BLB) – the Blainville-Boisbriand defenseman leads all QMJHL players with his excellent “Plus-Minus” differential of +31. His teammate Tommy Giroux appears also among the leaders with +27. The Armada will face the Mooseheads tonight, another team whose players like “pluses”: Luca Ciampini (+30), Nathan MacKinnon and Mackenzie Weegar (+28) and Darcy Ashley (+27)
- Etienne Boutet (GAT) – it is rare for a defenseman to manage a hat trick, above all on the road. This is what the 20-year old veteran of the Olympics achieved on Wednesday against Cape Breton in a 7-0 victory. Since he was acquired from Rimouski, Boutet collected almost a point per game (15 games, 14 points, a +4 differential).
- Josh Currie (PEI) – when he opened the score for his team last night, it was his eighth shorthanded goal of the season, which makes him the new record holder of the history of the Rocket franchise (MTL / PEI). The previous mark was that of Michael Lambert (2003-04). He could also consider the team record of 50 goals (David Laliberté, 2006-07), he who has gone over the 35-goal mark yesterday with his second goal of the game.
- Sven Andrighetto (ROU) – has an active sequence of 10 consecutive games with at least a point.
- Artem Sergeev (VDO) – as Andrighetto, he’s coming back from the World Junior Championship. As for this Foreurs defenseman, he will try to get a point in a 9th straight game tonight against the Tigres in Victoriaville. He’s returning with a bronze medal from the 2013 WJC, for the Russian national team.
- Yanick Jean (VIC) – head coach of the Tigres heads towards his 500th game (492) in the League. Remember that he has signed its 250th victory in his major junior career just before the holidays, on December 16th against the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
- Danny Flynn (MON) – retroactively, note that it has signed his 200th win behind the bench of the Moncton Wildcats on December 21st. He holds the team record, well ahead of Christian Larue (126).
A LITTLE HISTORY
- Sidney Crosby (RIM) – In January 2005, right after winning the gold medal with Canada at the World Junior Championship, the number 87 of the Océanic is experiencing a remarkable sequence. In only 9 games, he amassed 34 points, an average of 3.77 per game, in total; it was 4 games with 5 points or more! We can consider this performance among his strongest moments of his two season career in the QMJHL, being on a roll of 37 consecutive games with at least 1 point which would end in February. He ended the 2004-05 season as the first scorer of the League with 168 points, 52 ahead of his incredible teammate Dany Roussin!