Peter Roumeliotis has been working with the QMJHL since 2013 as a freelance social media strategist. He has been involved with many of the league’s social media features and initiatives. Graduating from Carleton University with a Masters in communication, Peter was the Social Media Lead alongside Hockey Canada for the 2017 World Juniors. He has also written features for publications and organizations such as Sports Illustrated, NHLPA and ECHL. Roumeliotis is also the creator and host of the Popternative Podcast, where notable guests from the world of sports, pop culture and digital media are interviewed.
QTalk | Mitchell Balmas reflects on monumental performance at Outdoor Game
by Peter Roumeliotis – December 19, 2017
On Sunday December 17th, 2017, the Gatineau Olympiques got the chance to be involved in something special and historic.
With the NHL 100 Classic taking place at TD Place on Saturday, a Canadian Hockey League inter-league outdoor game between the QMJHL’s Olympiques and the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s took place the very next day.
The Olympiques won the historic bout by a score of 4-1, and a huge reason for that victory was forward Mitchell Balmas’ performance. The Sydney, Nova Scotia, native put on a show for the fans with a hat trick performance, one that will go down in the Canadian Hockey League’s record books as the first hat trick ever scored in one of its outdoor games.
Balmas, who is now playing in his fourth season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, originally began his career with the Charlottetown Islanders, before being traded to Gatineau last year. The 19-year-old is currently on pace to top his career high of 51 points in a Q season, having already racked up 37 points in 35 games.
Following his monumental performance at TD place, I had the honor and privilege to catch up with Balmas and chat about his experience in the Outdoor Game. Here is our Q and A.
PR: “Can you talk about the excitement surrounding the original announcement that your team would be part of this inter-league game?”:
MB: “Yeah, it was pretty exciting finding out we would be playing in the game against Ottawa. Even though they are a team from another league, there’s already a little rivalry between us and the 67’s.”
PR: “Is it safe to say that this event was circled on the calendar since the start of the season?”
MB: “Oh for sure. Ever since they announced the game and that there was a chance of it being played outdoors, it was on our minds. Very fun to be part of.”
PR: “Take us through your hat trick. What was going through your mind during the game and after scoring each goal?”
MB: “It was great to be able to help the team out like that. During the game you can’t think about it too much and have to stay focused on your next shift. But once the game is done, it is nice to look back at it.”
PR: “Do you think that this outcome will have a big effect on your game for the rest of the season? What about for the Olympiques as a whole?”
MB: “Yeah for sure it gives myself and our team confidence knowing we can play with any team in our league and now with another team in another league.”
PR: “Finally, can you talk about the atmosphere at TD Place? How cold was it?”
MB: “The Gatineau fans were awesome making the trip over. They were even the 7th player at an away game. It was cold for sure, [but] once you’re playing and get into the game, you warm up! It was a fantastic game to be a part of and I will remember it forever.”
Alain and Barré-Boulet on a mission for the Armada
by Peter Roumeliotis – December 5, 2017
One of the hottest teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League right now is the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
The Armada is currently in first place in the Q, having already won 19 of its first 26 games. The team is also an outstanding 8-2-0 in its last 10 games, and boasts the league’s best power play percentage this season.
Up there with the Armada are teams like the Rimouski Oceanic, and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. For Rimouski, their 2017 first overall pick, Alexis Lafrenière, has been nothing short of brilliant in his highly anticipated rookie season.
For Acadie Bathurst, NHL prospects Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks) and German Rubstov (Philadelphia Flyers) are playing key roles for their team. While these two teams have well-known players contributing for them, it’s a whole different story for the Armada.
So, who is leading the Blainville-Boisbriand squad? Look no further than two 20-year-old undrafted forwards named Alex Barré-Boulet and Alexandre Alain.
Barré-Boulet came over to the Armada last year in a trade from Drummondville where he had spent two full seasons. He had a career-high 89 points in 65 games in 2015-2016, and he is on pace to surpass that total this season. In 25 games, Barré-Boulet is now up to 22 goals and 23 assists. It’s also worth noting that he is only seven goals away from matching the amount of goals he had in all of last season.
On the other hand, team captain Alexandre Alain, formerly of the Gatineau Olympiques, has been absolutely explosive this season. He’s already scored 14 goals and has 20 assists in the 25 games he’s played. That puts him less than 20 points away from having back-to-back seasons in which he’ll have amassed 50 points or more for the Armada.
The production that these two 20-year-old forwards are delivering for Blainville-Boisbriand is at an elite level and “the Alex’s” are out to show that they can be relied upon as big-time players.
And so far, it’s mission accomplished for both Alain and Barré-Boulet!
Big opportunity for a big player
by Peter Roumeliotis – November 21, 2017
The QMJHL regular season is long and full of opportunities for players to learn, grow, and flourish.
And for the past 15 years, the CIBC Canada Russia Series has been a dream occasion for some of the QMJHL’s best players to prove their worth. In this year’s Series – one that ended just under a week ago – Canada topped the Russians overall in the Series, with lots of help coming from Team QMJHL.
For players in the Q, this event has plenty of meaning and is an opportunity for each of them to write their own story. The younger players want to impress, but are also there to learn and build. The older players want to demonstrate that they belong, and that their time has finally come to show that they can play at the world-class level.
A player who is currently in between the learning and establishing stages is Gatineau Olympiques forward, Shawn Boudrias. Originally drafted by the Charlottetown Islanders, Boudrias is entering his fourth season in the Q and believes that the Canada Russia Series served as a purpose to elevate his game and help him reach the next level.
“It was great to play with some of the best players,” Boudrias stated. “Getting the opportunity to play with them helps me grow as a player.”
Boudrias impressed at the Series, putting up a goal in his two games for Team QMJHL. He also had six shots on goal, which tied him for most on the team with Peter Abbandonato and Pascal Laberge. But one element of Boudrias’ game which made him noticeable was his ability to play a big man’s game. At 6’4” and 212 pounds, he truly takes advantage of his size.
“I am a big body out there, so I tried to be more physical and use my body to not only get pucks, but to protect them,” he admits.
Boudrias is certainly learning and growing year after year. Currently on pace for a career high in the QMJHL, the Laval native has already posted 14 points in 18 games. With or without opportunities like the Canada Russia Series, the goal for Boudrias has never changed, and will not change; he’s aiming to make a living by playing hockey professionally.
“The series will help me because it showed me how people prepare themselves before games and how to be a professional,” said Boudrias, who wants to bring his learnings back to the Olympiques locker room. “The goal [now] is to have a good season, and try to get drafted [in the NHL]”.
With big opportunities coming the big player’s way, it’s safe to say that Boudrias is dialed in and well-equipped to face any challenge.
Morand looking to soar after training camp with Ducks
by Peter Roumeliotis – November 7, 2017
June 24th, 2017. This is a date that Acadie-Bathurst Titan forward Antoine Morand will never forget.
This was the day he got one step closer to his dream and was drafted to the National Hockey League, 60th overall, by the Anaheim Ducks.
For many players like Morand, the NHL entry draft will always represent a key moment of their hockey lives, because it’s the first chapter of a long novel career.
“It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe honestly” Morand admits. “Just hearing your name being called makes you realize that all the work you’ve done has paid off. And when you have a dream, you have to work for it and you will make it happen.”
Morand believes that his game has automatically been boosted after being drafted by the Ducks organization. A big part of this advance came from having the opportunity to absorb the atmosphere and experiences from both development camp and training camp this past summer.
“For sure being drafted elevates your game. You want to prove to the team that they made the right decision and I learned a lot in my first NHL camp.”
Morand put up 74 points in 67 games last season and is off to another good start this year with 19 points in 17 games for the Titan. While this is Morand’s third year in the Q, one could consider him a veteran in junior standards.
However, with his recent draft into the NHL, this year could involve the most learning and adapting the 18-year-old playmaker has ever had to make. And he is up for the challenge.
“I need to focus on the next objectives and keep working hard to bring my game to an NHL level” Morand states. “When you go to an NHL camp, you see what you need to do to be a professional and for sure I will try to bring that to my team this year.”
The little taste of NHL ambiance that Morand got with the Ducks seems to have been a refreshing and life-changing experience, one that he hopes to carry with him all year long in the Q.
“It was pretty cool to have that experience and opportunity” says Morand about a first taste of the NHL that left him in awe. “Corey Perry and Patrick Eaves came to see me. They told me that if I had any questions, to ask and to not be shy.”
Moving forward, there is no doubt that Morand will continue to do his very best to develop into an enhanced player, one who can one day make a permanent stay in the NHL.