Cam Charron

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Cam Charron is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports

  • New York Rangers prospect Anthony Duclair (CP)No. 1 Star - Anthony Duclair, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

    If you happen to be a goaltender who played in a Canadian Hockey League game Thursday night, you may be seeing pucks in your sleep. Of the 11 games played in the Ontario and Quebec junior leagues, eight saw the winning team record six or more goals, including Quebec's 8-2 dismantling of the Halifax Mooseheads.

    Anthony Duclair, the third round pick of the New York Rangers in the most recent National Hockey League draft, recorded seven points on the night—2 goals and 3 assists—as the Remparts remain hot by winning their seventh straight hockey game and are definitely within striking distance of Baie-Comeau for that top seed (though the Drakkar have won nine straight). Still, Duclair has gone as the Remparts have: he has 25 points so far in 11 games in 2014 and has 15 points over his last four games. Seven points is also a personal best for Duclair in his QMJHL career. He's earned four points on six occasions in his 165 prior games, but had five points through two periods.

    Duclair also registered an assist on each of Nick Sorensen's three goals, two of which came on the powerplay. The defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champs Halifax came uncharacteristically unglued, shown in the powerplay stats: the Mooseheads went 0-for-3 on the powerplay but the Remparts went an incredible 6-for-17. I'm not sure whether the "6" or the "17" is the noteworthy aspect of that statistic.

    No. 2 Star - Bo Horvat, London Knights (OHL)

    London aren't as hot as division rivals Guelph or Erie, but the Knights also managed a breakout offensive performance Thursday, jumping out to a 4-0 lead over North Bay after 20 minutes and cruising from there to a 9-4 victory. The Vancouver Canucks first rounder Bo Horvat was the points-getter on the night, recording two goals and two assists and getting two points on the powerplay helping London go 3-for-5 on the night in that department.

    A somehow important night offensively for Horvat. He's been ice-cold ever since returning from Malmo and a disappointing performance at the World junior championship in December and early January. Horvat had just four points in six games to start 2014, but after a two-point game Saturday and the four-pointer against the Battalion, maybe he can get something going. Also worthwhile to mention the three-point games from Matt Rupert, Gemel Smith as well as the two-goal performance from Chris Tierney.

    No. 3 Star - Ivan Barbashev, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

    The main beneficiary of Vladimir Tkachev's addition to the Moncton lineup may be his Russian counterpart Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev has been in the Q for longer and was the first pick in the Import Draft back in 2012, but his offensive numbers aren't comparable to the other offensive powerhouses, particularly in the Q where skilled players have a tremendous advantage compared to other leagues.

    Read More »from Remparts continue roll with Anthony Duclair’s seven-point night: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Tieja MacLaughlin (via Instagram)It may be surprising that the story of Tieja MacLaughlin and Tri-City Americans right winger Jackson Playfair has captivated the Canadian national interest moreso than the arrest of Justin Bieber, but this is a story of sex, crime and cross-border intrigue. After it came out Wednesday morning that MacLaughlin, a 25-year-old reporter working in Kelowna, B.C., had been arrested in Benton County, Wash., for allegedly driving into America with plans to kill her hockey-playing boyfriend Playfair after learning Playfair had cheated on her.

    Prosecutors decided Thursday to file charges. MacLaughlin has been held in jail without bail since Saturday night, via the Tri-City Herald:

    One count of felony harassment with domestic violence was filed against Tieja MacLaughlin in Benton County Superior Court.

    Bail was set at $50,000.

    MacLaughlin is scheduled to appear in court Friday. At that time, she may enter a plea to the new charge.

    Read More »from Charges filed against reporter Tieja MacLaughlin for threatening WHL player boyfriend
  • Curtis Lazar went No. 17 overall to the Ottawa Senators (Larry Macdougal, The Canadian Press)No. 1 Star - Curtis Lazar, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

    It was a night of blowouts all across the Western Hockey League, unfortunately, but the top offensive performer on the night was Curtis Lazar and his four-point night against the Regina Pats in a 5-2 win. The Ottawa Senators prospect scored three consecutive goals, spanning all three periods, to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Five minutes after scoring his third, he drew an assist on a goal from Edgars Kulda.

    Lazar hadn't played at home in Rexall Place since December 8. He went overseas with Team Canada for the World junior championship, and returned in January to join the Oil Kings on a five-game Western trip.

    "I love playing at Rexall," the 2013 17th overall pick told the Edmonton Sun. "It's an NHL rink and it's one of those nights where it was going in for me and I thought I contributed."

    That quote seems unnecessarily humble. To his credit, Kulda assisted on all three of Lazar's goals, also giving him a four-point night. In net for the Kings, Tristan Jarry stopped 20 of 22 shots for his 28th win on the season.

    Read More »from Hat trick for Curtis Lazar propels Oil Kings over Pats: Wednesday’s 3 Stars
  • Kelowna's Madison Bowey (CP Images)Trade deadline season came and went with most of the big deals having been made in the weeks leading up to last. While there was the usual flurry of trades, most involved depth pieces and draft picks, with household names in the OHL and WHL moved a while ago.

    Of course, trade deadline week coincides with players also returning from the World Juniors, and most of the top teams were stacked with players leaving for Sweden, save for Kelowna, who find themselves back on top this week after rolling through December, but the competition should pick up for them soon.

    1. Kelowna Rockets, WHL (.587 RPI, +1.8 SRS, +2) — The Rockets saw a 16-game winning streak come to an end last week with consecutive losses in Vancouver and at home to Edmonton, but knocked off Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Calgary over the weekend to improve their season record to 36-5-0-2. Kelowna are working with the lowest strength of schedule in all teams in the Dynamic Dozen, but their dominant winning percentage makes up for the fact that they play in a weak division.

    The Rockets win over Calgary was a potential WHL championship series preview. The two won't see each other until then if that's the case, and both have narrow wins over the other on the road this season.

    Marek Tvrdon, acquired from Vancouver after being sent back to junior by the Detroit Red Wings, is practicing with the club and will make his WHL season debut Friday in Victoria.

    2. Guelph Storm, OHL (.584 RPI, +2.0 SRS, -1) — Guelph fell to No. 2, but maintained their position over London thanks to a big 5-3 win against the Knights in front of a sold-out crowd at home. Kerby Rychel returned to the lineup and provided a point in each of his three games, expanding his point streak to eight games, but it's difficult to overtake the shadow of young Robby Fabbri, who has four goals and four assists in six games so far in 2014, and was named the 25th best North American skater in the NHL's Central Scouting rankings.

    3. London Knights, OHL (.579 RPI, +1.5 SRS, -1) — After the loss in Guelph, the Knights went 0-2 on the I-75 road trip, named for the highway connecting Saginaw with Sault Ste. Marie. The schedule softens up between now and the end of the month, which will allow new acquisition Gemel Smith to get acquainted with the club. He was on the last team to defeat London in a playoff series, way back in the 2011 playoffs as a member of the Owen Sound Attack.

    Read More »from Kelowna storm ahead of two OHL clubs, are knighted No. 1 in this week’s BTN Dynamic Dozen
  • Sam Bennett was No. 1 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings (CP)

    While Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad recently played for Team Canada at the World junior championship and will captain their respective teams during this week's BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the two were ranked a little lower than expected in the NHL's draft rankings published Monday.

    In a small surprise, Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs and Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders shot to No. 1 and No. 2 respectively among North American Skaters in Central Scouting's rank.

    Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who specializes in scouting the OHL, said he considers Bennett one of the most exciting prospects on the board.

    "Bennett has not only been very noticeable but extremely effective every shift of every game so far this season," Edwards told NHL.com. "His puckhandling and playmaking are excellent and he has one of the best shots in this year's draft class.

    "He has scored several goals from the high slot and coming in off the wing and has been very effective on the power play."

    Bennett has 44 goals and 106 points in 100 OHL games spanning two seasons. [NHL.com]

    Read More »from Kingston’s Sam Bennett; Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl listed 1 and 2 in midterm CSS rankings
  • Matt Dumba returns to WHL with Portland, who is next domino to fall?

    Matt Dumba has not dressed for the Wild since Nov. 23 (The Associated Press)

    It's not all that surprising that the Minnesota Wild have sent defenceman Mathew Dumba back down to junior hockey. For one, he hasn't played with the National Hockey League club that drafted him since November 23, and even when he has been in the lineup, he's averaged just 12:26 a night as a defenceman, one of the lowest time on ice averages in the NHL.

    For two, the Wild were probably more comfortable with sending Dumba down to a team that will definitely contend. Just before the start of the Team Canada selection camp for the World junior championship, Dumba's Western Hockey League rights were shifted from Red Deer to Portland. The Winterhawks are well back of Kelowna for top spot in the Western Conference and are just 3-7 in their last ten, but they've been without four of their best players: Nic Petan, Taylor Leier and Derrick Pouliot were all playing with Team Canada, while Brendan Leipsic just sat out the last of a seven-game suspension that began on December 17 after flattening Keegan Kolsar of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

    Via the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Michael Russo this morning, before the news was made official:

    Fletcher is close to returning defenseman Matt Dumba, who played 13 games earlier this season, to Portland of the Western Hockey League.

    Read More »from Matt Dumba returns to WHL with Portland, who is next domino to fall?
  • Rasmus Ristolainen scoring the golden goal on a drive to the net (Frank Gunn -- CP Images)

    No. 1 Star: Rasmus Ristolainen - Team Finland

    Overtime was all about Rasmus Ristolainen. Not only was the he player who scored the golden goal for Finland and giving them a 3-2 upset win over rival Sweden, but he also put together the three best shifts in the overtime period. Ristolainen, the defenceman selected No. 8 by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2013 NHL draft, chipped the puck and held it against the boards in the offensive zone against three Swedish players as he waited for his team to complete a change. Two minutes later, again at the point, he made a power move around Sweden's Andreas Johnson and set up a flurry of dangerous chances in front of goaltender Oscar Dansk, but teammate Artturi Lehkonen couldn't finish the play.

    But it wasn't all for naught. On his very next shift, Ristolainen again started at his position from the right point, picked some speed and deked around three Swedish players including Dansk, and sliding the puck through Dansk's five-hole and sparking the Finland gold medal celebration in true Finnish fashion: by skating across the ice, taking his helmet off, and throwing it against the end boards at the other end of the ice.

    Suffice to say, the tournament ended a lot better than it began for Ristolainen, who was questionable coming into the tournament coming off a concussion sustained earlier in the season in Rochester, and then a flu bug keeping him out of practice the week before Christmas.

    No. 2 Star: Juuse Saros - Team Finland

    The second star could have gone to a number of different Finnish defencemen, such as Esa Lindell or Ville Pokka, who won gold at the conclusion of a terrific tournament, but it's hard to credit a team for being stifling at defence when they allow 37 shots against, including 5 in a little over 9 minutes of overtime and 32 in regulation.

    Juuse Saros, who was brought up by Kingston's Henri Ikonen as the key to the system before the tournament began, was A-plus Sunday afternoon, at one point during the game was complimented for having "no pulse in the Finnish net" by TSN commentator Ray Ferraro. Saros was key to a Finland PK which was solid all tournament: despite going just 4-for-6 in the gold medal game, the Finns allowed just three powerplay goals against all tournament long. The PK was a good response to the Finns aggressive and chippy play which the country was known for long before it became a factory for goaltenders. Saros is a Nashville Predators fourth rounder and didn't have a bad game all tournament, stopping 35 of 37 in the gold medal game and being named a tournament all-star, though his opposite Dansk was given the IIHF Directorate Award.

    Read More »from World junior championship 3 Stars: Blue-clad Ristolainen and Saros give golden performances
  • Crestfallen Team Canada players stand on the blueline following Saturday's semfinal loss to Finland (Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press)

    With Frédérik Gauthier on the ice for Team Canada in all games save the cakewalk opener against Germany, the Canadians were out-chanced 9-4 by the opposition.

    Gauthier is used to facing opposition of this calibre. Gauthier was a first round pick in the NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has talent, was nearly a point-a-game in the QMJHL with the Rimouski Océanic a year ago, and had a +22 plus/minus. It's interesting to see the contrast to this season when he's a year older and perhaps given a bit more responsibility. He's just a +1 on a team that has a +20 goal differential.

    The team that drafted him, the Leafs, has a player in a similar role named Jay McClement. Despite McClement's reputation as a two-way player, who would put up 20-point seasons at the NHL-level in addition to being a reliable checker and penalty killer, McClement has been used exclusively in a defensive role this season. He is on pace for just 10 points, and when he's on the ice, the Leafs give up just 30.4 shots per 60 minutes, compared to 36.0 when he's not out there.

    The problem, however, is that hockey is a game of ratios, and not raw numbers. I forget who said it, but I'd read a long time ago a basketball quotation from a high-profile player or coach who suggested that "when you out-score your check, that's good defence." With McClement on the ice, the Leafs take just 18.8 shots per 60 minutes, compared to 28.1 when he's not on the ice.

    A checking line, or what exists when the Océanic send out Gauthier, or when Brent Sutter put Gauthier on the ice with Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson, is a concession you give to the other team. Some of the top offensive players in the world, or at any level in hockey, are susceptible to momentary defensive lapses. The way to beat them isn't to limit their opportunities, it's to out-score them.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Conservatism and focus on safe plays costs Canada again
  • Swedish goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 26 of 27 in his team's semifinal (CP)

    In the end, Oscar Dansk's best save of the game didn't count.

    With 11 seconds to go in Sweden's World junior championship semifinal against Russia, Dansk was holding onto his net to keep his position established as Russian forward Vyacheslav Osnovin walked out from the corner in an attempt to tie the game. Osnovin lost control of the puck, and so too, did Dansk, of his post. The net fell out from behind him (was it intentional on Dansk's part?) and the play was blown dead as Russia's Pavel Buchnevich took a shot from the far side of the net. Somehow, with Dansk sprawling, the puck hit his pad and stayed out.

    It was just how the day went for the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, and a modest summary into how his tournament had gone. With the win over the Russians, and stopping 26 of 27 in the process, Dansk's save percentage from the tournament jumped over Andrei Vasilevsky's to an impressive .935 before going into the gold medal game. In that regard, he's only behind Finland's Juuse Saros, though has more wins (and no losses) and a higher goals against average thanks to playing behind the better team.

    Read More »from World junior championship: Oscar Dansk’s performance against Russia showcases another team strength
  • Once again, Anthony Mantha paced the Canadian offence (CP - Frank Gunn)

    Switzerland kept their World junior championship quarterfinal game against Canada close, but that was largely thanks to the play of goaltender Melvin Nyffeler. As was to be expected, Canada out-skated and out-shot the Swiss skaters by a near 2:1 margin in building a 3-1 lead, and then backing off as the Swiss managed their only sustained offensive pressure of the game.

    Curtis Lazar scored to make it 3-1 with 15:49 left on the clock in the third period. That was Canada's 17th scoring chance of the game. At that point, the Swiss had only five, but managed to stay into the game thanks to some strong goaltending and a lucky deflection off the stick of Nico Dunner with a second to play in the middle period. After some good Swiss pressure that resulted in five key saves from Zach Fucale, Canada's Derrick Pouliot broke the game open, capitalizing on the open ice the Swiss had to give Canada in order to create their own opportunities.

    The new tournament format—having the group winners play the fourth-seeded team from the other group—should result in more uneven contests at the annual tournament, something the IIHF may be trying to avoid in group play (as I type these words, the Group B winner Sweden has just taken a 1-0 lead over Slovakia) but the tournament-altering upset that seems to happen every year could occur a bit later and knock off a giant. The Swiss had a chance, but ultimately, they weren't in Canada's league in the quarterfinal game.

    Canada's strongest players were their top six. Anthony Mantha scored another goal. Him and Jonathan Drouin created most of the offence for the Canadians, but they also generated some plays from more unlikely sources. Generally Scott Laughton only got his scoring chances when he was on the ice with Bo Horvat and Connor McDavid, but him and Sam Reinhart had some good chemistry together, both finishing with excellent scoring chance differential numbers. The full table is below:

    Read More »from World junior championship: Canada dominance against Swiss shows in scoring chance numbers

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