Coaches switching, players climbing and teams making history. Just another week of big names making big news in the “Q”!
Cataractes Shake Things Up
Fans in the QMJHL started the week with big news out of Shawinigan. On Monday, the Cataractes announced the hiring of Gordie Dwyer and Darren Rumble as Head Coach and Assistant Coach, respectively. Dywer, who replaces former Shawinigan bench boss Daniel Renaud, spent four years as a player in the “Q” from 1994-98. He also guided the PEI Rocket/Charlottetown Islanders franchise for four years, culminating in the club’s first playoff series victory in 11 years in 2015.
Rumble’s impressive resume includes five and a half seasons with the Moncton Wildcats, during which time he posted 205 regular season and playoff victories. He takes the reigns from former Cataractes assistant Adrien Plavsic.
Sokolov Skyrockets Towards the Top
Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere, got the last laugh over Cape Breton Eagles forward Egor Sokolov when Team Canada came from behind to defeat the Russians for the gold medal at the 2020 World Juniors. Now, Sokolov is seeking a measure of revenge as the QMJHL scoring derby heats up. The gap between the two stars as of the time of this writing was eight points: 89 to 81 in favor of Lafreniere. However, since both made their way back from the tournament, Sokolov holds a 30-19 advantage in points scored. Should Sokolov overtake Lafreniere during the campaign’s final month, he would become just the third European player to claim the league’s regular season scoring title.
Big Night at the Bell Centre
While the Montreal Canadiens were battling the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night, they also shared the spotlight with a number of top ranked prospects for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, set to take place at the Bell Centre on June 26-27. The top five rated players from the “Q” were on hand to take in both the game as well as a round of applause from the crowd. Making the trek to Montreal were the aforementioned Lafreniere, Dawson Mercer (Chicoutimi), Justin Barron (Halifax), Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi) and Jeremie Poirier (Saint John).
The Montreal fans also had an opportunity to congratulate the Q’s World Juniors gold medalists as Lafreniere and Mercer were also joined by fellow Team Canada teammates Raphaël Lavoie (Chicoutimi), Jared McIsaac (Moncton) and Olivier Rodrigue (Moncton).
Simoneau: A Leader on and off the Ice
Drummondville’s Xavier Simoneau has already captained his club to a season that has exceeded the expectations of most observers. Off the ice, his leadership shines through just as brightly. Through the “Les Amis à Simi” campaign, the third-year veteran has extended an invite for a memorable night at the Centre Marcel Dionne to children that are facing challenging situations or have made a positive difference in their home, school or community life. The initiative has proven to be a rousing success – so much so that all available spaces have already been filled for the season!
The Tradition Continues in Quebec City
Since 1960, one of the rites of winter in la “Vieille Capitale” has been the International Pee-Wee Tournament. Now entering its sixth decade, the event is the largest of its kind and has featured tens of thousands of players, including over 1200 that have gone on to appear in either the NHL or WHA. This includes some of the most enduring names to pass through the QMJHL, including Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy and Vincent Lecavalier.
Drakkar hits 700
When Baie-Comeau defenseman Keenan MacIsaac dented the twine in overtime last Wednesday, history was made. The 3-2 victory over the Voltigeurs represented the Drakkar’s 700th victory in franchise history. Since entering the league in 1997, the club has compiled 12 seasons of 30 wins or more, captured the Jean-Rougeau Trophy for best regular season record twice (2003 & 2014) and has also made back-to-back President Cup Finals appearances in 2013 and 2014.
Good Things Come in Threes
Shawinigan’s Xavier Bourgault is no stranger to the red light this year. Already a 30-goal scorer, the 17-year-old notched his third hat trick of the season in a 7-5 victory over Chicoutimi last Wednesday. His was one of four three-goal performances in the “Q” last week, alongside those of Brett Budgell (Charlottetown), Mathias Laferriere (Cape Breton) and Jeremy Lapointe (Drummondville).
While Bourgault notched hat trick number three on the year, Wildcats netminder Olivier Rodrigue posted his third shutout of the campaign against the Armada last Friday, kicking aside all 26 shots he faced in a 4-0 win. Also slamming the door last week were Fabio Iacobo (Victoriaville) and Tristan Cote-Cazenave (Quebec).