Rivalries, a pair of firsts, NHL signings and the international spotlight are all a part of the news in the “Q” this week.
With the season officially in full swing, the buildup to international tournaments has also commenced. On Wednesday, it was announced that 17 active QMJHLers will be among the 66 players representing the three Team Canada entries at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Among the “Q” players making their way to the tournament are the top five selections from last June’s Draft, which includes first overall pick Joshua Roy (Saint John) and two of the top three rookie scorers in Zachary L’Heureux (Moncton) and James Malatesta (Quebec). Additionally, eight players drafted into the QMJHL that are playing in other leagues have also earned tournament invites.
Super Series Spotlight
The QMJHL roster for the upcoming 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series was also unveiled on Wednesday. This year’s lineup includes a pair of first round selections from the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke) and Jakob Pelletier (Moncton), defending Memorial Cup Champions Justin Bergeron and Alex Beaucage (Rouyn-Noranda) and top-rated 2020 NHL prospects in forwards Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski) and Hendrix Lapierre (Chicoutimi) as well as blueliners Justin Barron (Halifax) and Jeremie Poirier (Saint John). Team QMJHL will clash with Team Russia on November 4th in Saint John and November 5th in Moncton.
The Shawinigan Cataractes continue their strong start to the season. One of the offensive catalysts in this run has been center Mavrik Bourque, who completed a natural hat trick in Shawinigan’s 4-2 victory over Baie-Comeau last Wednesday. His was one of two three-goal performances in the QMJHL last week. The other came off the stick of Jakob Pelletier, part of a five-point effort in Moncton’s 9-0 whitewash of Saint John last Sunday.
During that previously mentioned 9-0 win for the Wildcats over Saint John, Moncton netminder Charles-Antoine Lavallee pitched his first career shutout in the “Q”, making 21 saves in the process. He was one of two goaltenders to blank a QMJHL opponent for the first time. Last Saturday, it was sensational Slovakian Samuel Hlavaj who performed the feat, kicking aside all 18 pucks fired upon him in Sherbrooke’s 5-0 triumph over Blainville-Boisbriand. A third shutout was also earned in the league last week; this time, by a veteran. Last Friday night, overage Islanders netminder Matthew Welsh stopped 30 shots in his club’s 5-0 win over Rouyn-Noranda. It was Welsh’s 12th career QMJHL shutout.
Staring Down the Enemy
Some are old, some are new, all are entertaining. Rivalries have been a part of the QMJHL for as long as the league has been around. Those showdowns will once again come to the forefront as Rivarly Weekend returns to the Q this week!
Singing (or Signing) the Blues
Mathias Laferriere has spent the past three years playing up the middle for the Cape Breton Eagles. Now, he’s also playing Gloria!
On Thursday, the veteran signed an entry level contract with the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, the club that selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Laferriere, who has been injured since the first game of the regular season, registered 74 points while suiting up for all 68 regular season games with the Eagles last year. It was an eventful week for the Montreal native, who was also named to the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series roster.