Cam Charron

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Cam Charron is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports

  • Antoine Bibeau makes a save off Chris Tierney (Dave Chidley:CP)

    No. 1 Star - Antoine Bibeau, Val-d'Or Foreurs

    Et la première étoile… the first star… the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Antoine Bibeau got a good preview of what he can expect if he ever makes the NHL, mainly, facing over 50 shots on a weeknight game in Southern Ontario. Ho hum. Bibeau, the QMJHL playoffs MVP, continued his dominant spring and earned a 51-save shutout in the tournament opener against the London Knights, the second highest scoring team in the Ontario Hockey League.

    Bibeau, though, impressed in his first start in the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Val-d'Or were the tired team going into the first game of the tournament, and it showed. The Foreurs were out-shot 20-9 in the first period and 33-14 through two, but you couldn't get a handful of rice past Bibeau. He parried several scoring opportunities on odd-man rushes during the first period, and stood tall against Bo Horvat on a penalty shot in the third, which preserved the Val-d'Or 1-0 lead.

    Read More »from MasterCard Memorial Cup: Bibeau, Mantha own spotlight in tourney opener – Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Nic Petan's scoreless drought has become a major talking point (CP)

    Seven things to ponder as Portland and Edmonton prepare to play out the final game of the Western Hockey League season Monday night...

    No. 1 - How did we even make it to the seventh game?

    Good question.

    For those that haven't been patiently following the series, it may be difficult to explain just how unlikely the seventh game has been. The Winterhawks were dominant in the first two games of the series and, in Game 3, took a 2-0 lead within four minutes. But the next three-and-a-half games were all Edmonton: the Oil Kings rallied in Game 3 to win 3-2, Tristan Jarry shut out Portland in Game 4 and the Albertan side eked out a close Game 5 win. The Oil Kings then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Game 6, at home, with a chance to take the series.

    But it was the Winterhawks turn to rally. With Oil Kings forward Brett Pollock already in the box for tripping, Henrik Samuelsson took a two-minute high sticking minor drawn by Portland's Brendan Leipsic, giving the Winterhawks a two-man advantage. Their powerplay to that point in the series had been cold, but Mat Dumba unloaded on a slapper from the point to get Portland on the board. Dumba scored his second powerplay goal of the night after Edmonton took a 5-2 lead going into the third period but the Winterhawks were able to tie it up. Young Keegan Iverson ended the classic, scoring the overtime winner to force a seventh game back in Portland.

    Read More »from WHL Championship series: Seven questions to ask ahead of Monday’s seventh game
  • Carolina Hurricanes pick Brock McGinn (OHL Images)

    No. 1 Star - Brock McGinn, Guelph Storm (OHL)

    For the third consecutive game in the OHL championship series, the eventual losing team wound up conceding a late tying goal in the third period. For the first time in the championship series, overtime was not required. McGinn's winner with 11 ticks left on the clock effectively served as a game-clincher, even though it saved the ice-resurfacer a trip around North Bay Memorial Gardens. McGinn gave Guelph a 4-3 win in the third game of the series to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven.

    Zack Mitchell (1G, 1A, +1) tied the game for Guelph at 6-on-5 with just 30 seconds to go on a deflection, but his heroics were replaced by McGinn's, who found a loose puck with Battalion goaltender Jake Smith looking the other way on the ensuing shift. He was mobbed by his on-ice teammates.

    The goal is McGinn's fifth of the playoffs. He'd been stymied on a couple of occasions by Smith earlier in the contest. Another contribution of his didn't show up on the scoresheet—McGinn drew the roughing penalty that led to the Storm's only powerplay goal on the night.

    No. 2 Star - Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

    The Foreurs broke their tie as the series shifted West for Game 3 of the QMJHL series. Despite the 5-2 scoreline, as Val-d'Or take a 2-1 series lead, the game was in doubt through to the third period. Baie-Comeau took a 2-1 lead late in the second period, but Maxime Gravel tied the game just 1:11 later, with Anthony Mantha drawing the assist.

    Read More »from Late heroics from McGinn, Mantha give Storm, Foreurs 2-1 series edge – Tuesday’s 3 Stars
  • Portland F Paul Bittner has four points in two games (via Portland Winterhawks)

    The Portland Winterhawks took an early 2-0 series lead in the WHL championship series over the Edmonton Oil Kings this weekend, with a 5-2 win Saturday night and 3-1 Sunday evening. The Winterhawks are now halfway towards defending the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and have had a healthy advantage in nearly all aspects of the game including scoring chances, puck possession, and goaltending.

    GAME ONE

    The story of Game 1 may be the breaking apart of Edmonton's top line of Henrik Samuelsson, Mitch Moroz and Reid Petryk after Moroz suffered a leg injury knocking him out of most of the first period and the entire second. With Brandon Baddock moving up in the lineup to take the spot of Moroz, the Oil Kings trio was taken apart ruthlessly by Portland's "USA Kid Line" of Alex Schoenborn, Dominic Turgeon and Keegan Iverson, the latter of which may have been the most dangerous even strength skater for either team in the contest.

    Read More »from WHL championship series: Portland with decisive victories in opening games as Oil Kings search for answers
  • Portland and Edmonton square off for rubber match: WHL final preview

    Since 2012,the Oil Kings and Winterhawks are both 1-1 in the WHL Finals (Greg Southam:Edmonton Journal)

    —BY CAM CHARRON AND KELLY FRIESEN

    It's rare that two teams meet in the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, let alone in the final, yet for the third consecutive season the Western Hockey League championship features the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Portland Winterhawks.

    In 2012, the Oil Kings dispatched the Hawks in seven games after leaning on veterans Rhett Rachinski and Jordan Peddle for multi-goal games late in the series. The Winterhawks responded last season, winning in six on the back of goaltender Mac Carruth as well as top scorers Oliver Bjorkstrand and Ty Rattie.

    The continued success for each organization since that original series reflects both clubs' ability to recruit and add quality players to the lineup. Of the 36 skaters who dressed for the team's Game 7 match in 2012, only six return for the Winterhawks and just five for the Oil Kings. Neither of the clubs' leading scorers (Bjorkstrand for Portland and Brett Pollock for Edmonton) were around for that original series. The starting goaltenders in this series, Brendan Burke and Tristan Jarry, were green backups back in 2012.

    This year could be the last time these two squads meet for a while, however. The series is the sunset WHL action of some longtime, key members for both squads such as Henrik Samuelsson and Griffin Reinhart on Edmonton's side, while longtime 'Hawks Brendan Leipsic, Taylor Leier and Derrick Pouliot will likely make the jump to pro hockey in September. For the 13 players on either roster that have been around for all three series, the 2014 iteration is for more than the Ed Chynoweth Trophy, but also to determine which team gets to claim overall dominance during the most recent WHL era.
    —Charron

    Read More »from Portland and Edmonton square off for rubber match: WHL final preview
  • Jonathan Drouin recorded a point on more than half of Halifax's goals scored in the playoffs (CP)

    Monday night, with an assist on Luca Ciampini's goal at 11:27 of the first period, 18-year-old Jonathan Drouin recorded his 99th career Quebec Major Junior playoff point, moving him to second place all-time and ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer and QMJHL legend Mario Lemieux.

    Drouin's season ended a night later as the Val-d'Or Foreurs beat the defending champion Halifax Mooseheads 3-2 in the seventh game of the tight semifinal series. Drouin also recorded his 102nd career playoff point and most likely his last, with an assist on Nikolaj Ehlers' 11th. It was Drouin's 28th assist of the playoffs, and to put that in perspective, Foreurs forward Louick Marcotte is second in the playoffs with 29 points.

    It's not too surprising to see the complete dominance of Drouin this season. He was projected as a reasonable choice to go No. 1 in the National Hockey League draft last spring. Former teammate Nathan MacKinnon scored 24 goals and 63 points with Colorado this season, and the second overall selection Aleksander Barkov scored 24 points in 54 games. If Drouin is good enough to be in that calibre, he's effectively a top six NHLer playing against junior players, and to further add to the potential for ridiculous numbers, he plays in the defensively- and goaltending-challenged Quebec league.

    Drouin scored 41 points this postseason. Baie-Comeau, one of two teams playing for the Presidents' Cup in the championship series, has scored 48 goals total.

    Read More »from Jonathan Drouin bested Mario Lemieux’s career playoff points total in legendary 2014 run
  • Madison Bowey is key to the Kelowna defence (Marissa Baecker:Getty)

    —BY CAM CHARRON AND SCOTT SEPICH

    Back in February, it was theorized that the NFC title game between West Coast rivals Seattle and San Francisco was the real Super Bowl, that it was the game played by the two top teams in the league. By that point in the season, was there any doubt that the Kelowna Rockets and the Portland Winterhawks were the top two teams in the Western Hockey League, if not all of major junior?

    This has been a matchup circled on calendars for months. Kelowna were tops in the BMO CHL Top 10 Rankings at the conclusion of the season, with Portland placing third. The Winterhawks led major junior hockey in RPI to top Buzzing the Net's Dynamic Dozen, with the Rockets placing second.

    The 4-0 mark in the season series by Kelowna is somewhat deceiving — Portland couldn't buy a save in their first two meetings with one another, and iced something well short of a full roster when Kelowna visited the Rose City back during world junior season.

    Still, our mathematical odds are surprisingly slanted in favour of Portland. Who really knows what to expect out of this matchup? When the teams first played each other in late November, the Rockets were short overage Marek Tvrdon and the Winterhawks had yet to make a move for Mat Dumba. Since those additions, both teams have cleared through the rest of the Western Conference like a warm knife through lactose-free butter. The series prediction may have come down to a coin flip. — Charron

    Read More »from Portland-Kelowna series too close to call: WHL Western Conference final preview
  • As was the theme throughout their second round series, the Victoria Royals had no answer to the Portland Winterhawks in the Rose City. Portland went 2-for-6 on the powerplay in the fifth game of their Western Conference semifinal series and wound up with a 5-1 victory to clinch the series 4-1, outscoring the Royals by a 19-6 count on home ice.

    Bigger than the game, which was no longer in doubt about midway through the third period, was a series of fights between the teams' skilled players that caused the game to run long into the night. Right at the end of the second period, as shown in the video above, Portland defenceman Derrick Pouliot clocked Victoria defenceman Joe Hicketts with a vicious right-handed haymaker that felled the draft-eligible prospect.

    Later, after taking a hard crosscheck into the boards from Brandon Magee, Winnipeg Jets prospect and Winterhawks' leading scorer Nic Petan found enough energy in him to drop the mitts with Ryan Gagnon.

    Referees Jeff Ingram and Derek Zalaski had their work cut out for them, doling out 151 minutes in penalties between the two teams in all, and it could have been more had Royals coach Dave Lowry not pleaded with his bench to cut out the rough stuff as the seconds on the clock ticked down.

    Read More »from Portland, Victoria brawl as Winterhawks close out Western Conference series in five games
  • Guelph forward Kerby Rychel (Terry Wilson:OHL Images)

    No. 1 Star - Kerby Rychel, Guelph Storm (OHL)

    The Guelph-London shootout continued Tuesday night, with the Storm reclaiming home-ice advantage with a 4-2 win in the third game of the set to take a 2-1 series lead. Robby Fabbri broke out offensively for his first time since his return from his injury sustained in the first round, scoring twice in the third period, first on the powerplay and again at even strength, but it was Columbus Blue Jackets first rounder Kerby Rychel who was the catalyst on both plays.

    With the score at 2-1 London midway through the third, Rychel cut to the net and, while he lost control, the puck found its way onto the stick of Fabbri who was able to go short-side on London goalie Jake "two Ts" Patterson. Just over two minutes later, Rychel shook off a check from defenceman Dakota Mermis and found a wide-open Fabbri in front. That was Kerby's third assist on the night, having also recorded the lone assist on a Phil Baltisberger goal in the second to tie the game at 1.

    No. 2 Star - Brendan Leipsic, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

    The Winterhawks have teased the Victoria Royals twice this series, giving the underdogs leads in the second and fourth games of the series before taking over on the ice. In Game 4, the Royals had leads of 1-0 and early in the third, had a 3-2 advantage, but less than 90 seconds after Steven Hodges scored the early go-ahead goal, it was the Nashville Predators prospect Leipsic who tucked home a rebound from a Derrick Pouliot point shot to tie the score. It was his second goal of the game, his first coming by way of the man advantage in the second period, again mucking it up in the crease and celebrating without his helmet.

    Read More »from Kerby Rychel’s Big Tuesday gives Guelph series lead in London – Tuesday’s 3 Stars
  • Winnipeg Jets prospect and Guelph Storm forward Scott Kosmachuk (Terry Wilson:OHL Images)

    No. 1 Star - Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph Storm (OHL)

    Junior hockey fans tuning into Friday Night Hockey were treated to an excellent Game 1 between Guelph and London. The Storm pulled out ahead to a 4-0 lead, with the Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk getting the fourth. It looked like the Storm had all but clinched the game at that point, but a furious rally from the Knights led by Max Domi and his two goals saw the game tied midway through the third.

    Late in the game, Kosmachuk made an excellent keep in at the attacking blue line, allowing Jason Dickinson to set up Justin Auger for his second of the playoffs the go-ahead goal with 2:06 to go in the contest. Kosmachuk earned just the goal and the assist and wasn't named a star in the building, but the Storm don't take the game without his aggressive play late to extend the Storm's time in the offensive end.

    Oddly, the winning goal for the Storm in their 6-4 win (Kerby Rychel added an empty-net goal) was the only five-on-five tally in the game. Maybe it's a bit of a stretch to give Kosmachuk credit for this, but the Storm's first two goals of the game came shorthanded killing a penalty—in the box for Guelph was Kosmachuk, off for slashing.

    No. 2 Star - Jerome Verrier, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

    The sixth-seeded Volts got off to a strong start in their playoff series beginning in Val-d'Or Friday. Like the Storm, Drummondville got out to an early lead and had a two-goal advantage after two periods, 3-1. The Foreurs came back however, with Anthony Mantha striking twice including the tying goal with just 34 seconds to go to send the game to Overtime.

    Read More »from Late goals prevent disaster for Guelph, Drummondville in OHL and QMJHL series openers – Friday’s 3 Stars

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