Cam Charron

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Cam Charron is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports

  • Junior A national board proposes to give game misconducts to fighters

    An OJHL fight between Matt Martin of the Cobourg Cougars and Tyler Park of the Whitby Fury (Andy Corneau - OJHL Images)

    The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has overwhelming endorsed anti-fighting measures that would see a game misconduct be the default penalty for a fight in Junior A hockey in Canada, as well as strict rules in place that would ban staged fights, multiple fights during the same stoppage in play, and penalize repeat offenders.

    Five of the ten CJHL member leagues, based in Ontario and Québec, all play under the "one-fight rule" that is the international standard. The other five, based in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the maritimes, operate under a hybrid standard. The first fight results in the traditional five-minute fighting major, while the second gives off a game-misconduct.

    Kirk Lamb, the president of the CJHL, becomes yet another junior hockey executive to publicly suggest that the nature of the culture of the game is changing, in a brief quote to CTV News, he suggested that "this was done as part of our normal review of regular rules and regulations, but also recognition of the changing culture of the game, the changing appetite of some of this type of behaviours".

    Read More »from Junior A national board proposes to give game misconducts to fighters
  • Sean Monahan’s quick start likely ensures he’ll stay in the NHL

    Sean Monahan is off to a hot start in Calgary too tough to ignore (Larry MacDougal - CP)

    We're nearing the point in time when the Calgary Flames have to make a decision on Sean Monahan and choose whether or not to send him back to the Ottawa 67s or keep him up for a season at the NHL-level in a year in which they didn't expect to compete. Though Monahan was selected sixth overall, it seemed like a pretty easy decision back in September—get Monahan a few NHL games, and then send him back to junior hockey and let him dominate for the 67s and for Team Canada at the World U-20s in December.

    That position has been somewhat complicated in the last week. Monahan and the Flames are exceeding every reasonable expectation in the early going of the NHL season. Meanwhile, the 67s have begun the season 5-8 and will be probably be one of those teams fighting for one of the lower playoff seeds. Of the two Eastern Conference divisions, the 67s are playing in the toughest one with Oshawa and Kingston, both off to terrific starts. No other Eastern term has yet to establish themselves and the return of Monahan would obviously help the 67s take control as the third or fourth seed in the conference.

    The Flames, though? With a win over Los Angeles in the dying seconds Monday night, Calgary are 4-2-2 and are right in the mix in a very competitive Pacific Division. They are there somewhat because of their goaltending and somewhat because of the production of Monahan: With nine points in his first eight NHL games, he's just one back of Tomas Hertl for the rookie scoring lead, and Hertl had a four-goal game to his benefit.

    Read More »from Sean Monahan’s quick start likely ensures he’ll stay in the NHL
  • Curtis Lazar went No. 17 overall to the Ottawa Senators (Larry Macdougal, The Canadian Press)

    No. 1 Star - Curtis Lazar, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) - Big night for the Edmonton Oil Kings against Red Deer. The Kings not only crushed the Rebels 4-0 on the scoreboard, but also out-shot their Alberta rivals 45-21. A couple of their prospects had big nights, the most notable being Ottawa Senators first round pick from this past spring Curtis Lazar, who had one of the many four-point nights. Lazar scored twice in the third period, and assisted on both Oil Kings goals in the first period. Those were scored by Islanders 2012 first rounder Griffin Reinhart and Mitch Moroz, who went 32nd to the Oilers back in 2012.

    The Oil Kings need the dominant performance. They've yet to win two straight on the season, but now they have Saturday and Sunday games against the Kootenay Ice, both at home. That's before going out on an 8-game road trip, so banking these early wins is somewhat important even though it's relatively early in the season. Goaltending has been a bit of an issue for the Kings so far, but Tristan Jarry stopped all 21 shots on the night to drive his save percentage up to .897.

    No. 2 Star - Felix-Antoine Bergeron, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

    How do you spell 'at least'? In the Shawi, it would be E-N-F-I-N, but that's beside the point right now. The Shawinigan Cataractes began the season at 0-9-2 and were the last club in the nation to secure a victory, but they finally managed their first on the campaign Friday night with a 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. Kris Hodge beat Philippe Desrosiers 31 seconds into the extra frame, with Felix-Antoine Bergeron drawing the second assist. Bergeron paced the offence for the Cataractes Friday night, with a goal and two assists.

    Bergeron also went 14-for-17 at the dot and was one of eight Cataractes players to register a team-high of three shots on goal. The Cataractes started the game down 2-0, but fought back to take a 3-2 lead and probably should have hung on after Samuel Morin took a misconduct with two minutes to go. Michael Joly scored shorthanded to force the game to OT, delaying Shawinigan's first win on the season for just that much longer.

    No. 3 Star - Connor McDavid, Erie Otters (OHL)

    The Otters are heating up, which is bad news for the rest of the OHL. They've won six straight in the month of October and out-scored the opposition 32-14 since the five-game road trip to start their season. Connor McDavid earns the Star honours, earning the primary assist on all four Erie goals in a 4-3 win over Belleville. Also of note… two goals by Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Connor Brown and two by the undrafted Dane Fox.

    Belleville staged a late rally, scoring two third period goals so Oscar Dansk wound up having to stop just 18 shots on the night out of 21 Bulls attempts. Nothing incredibly scary, as the Otters had out-shot the Bulls 26-16 through two periods. Incidentally, all four of McDavid's assists were primary, as the likely 2015 first overall pick has four consecutive multi-point games, and 19 points so far in his first 11 games.

    Read More »from Lazar, McDavid record four-point nights, Cataractes get first W: Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Erie Otters captain and Leafs prospect Connor Brown (CP)No. 1 Star - Connor Brown, Erie Otters (OHL)

    Erie was a sleeper choice this season in that tough Western Conference, and a big reason was because of all the talent they have up front. The Otters' offence definitely came alive for the team's home opener Saturday night, if it hadn't already. They'd scored 10 goals in the last two games on their five-game road trip to start the season, and beat North Bay 8-4 Saturday.

    Toronto prospect Connor Brown and the overage Dane Fox each recorded two goals and two assists, but we're going to give the edge to Brown, who factored in on three of the first four goals for the Otters. The powerplay was buzzing, going 3-for-3 on the night before the Battalion decided after Fox's second of the night at 3:53 of the second period they weren't going to take minor penalties anymore.

    That's 13 points in six games for Brown. Curiously, Connor McDavid has been held to just seven points all season, and five during the Otters' three-game outburst.

    No. 2 Star - Mathew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

    After a relatively slow start to his Seattle Thunderbirds career, the 2012 first overall pick from the Bantam Draft finally had his breakout performance of the season Saturday night in Lethbridge. The phenom Mat Barzal recorded four assists for this third multi-point night of his career, and for the first time recorded more than two points. He helped Latvian linemate Roberts Lipsbergs record his second career WHL hat-trick, and Mission's Michal Holub for a 5-1 goal early in the third. Seattle would close it out for a 6-2 victory.

    The Hurricanes don't have a great defence, having allowed 24 goals in the first five games of their season and now 30 goals against in six. Perhaps getting away from his home on the West Coast was what Barzal needed to really get going. After "just" getting four points in his first five games, Barzal now has six in two games during his team's short two-game Alberta road trip.

    No. 3 Star - Riley Stadel, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

    The feature matchup in the CHL tonight was probably taking place in Kelowna, as the 4-0-1 Rockets played host to the Portland Winterhawks, behind Seattle to start the season but probably won't stay there. Kelowna handed the Winterhawks their third loss on the season already, despite Portland striking twice in the first 3:32. Riley Stadel, a 1996-born sophomore from Surrey, scored a powerplay goal midway through the first that got Kelowna going. Stadel bookended the scoring for the Rockets, adding a second powerplay goal late in the game to seal the victory.

    Also deserving of an honourable mention here is Jordon Cooke. He stopped 36-of-39 on the night and held Portland to zero powerplay goals on 10 attempts.

    Read More »from Four-point nights for Connor Brown, Mat Barzal land them in Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • The Blades had a disappointing MasterCard Memorial Cup performance as hosts last May (CP)The Saskatoon Blades have become the first Western Hockey League club to publicly declare their interest in hockey analytics. It seems to be all the rage in major junior. A month ago, the Ottawa 67s hired 19-year-old Matt Pfeffer, who'd done lots of work creating and publishing player usage charts with the limited data the Ontario Hockey League keeps on its boxscores.

    The Blades hired an Outlook, SK resident and Blades fan named Bruce Peter who is known to the general hockey blogosphere on Twitter as @saskhab. Peter is known for his work at Habs Eyes on the Prize and formerly Puck Worlds, two blogs belonging to the gargantuan SB Nation network that are dedicated to the Montreal Canadiens and international hockey, respectively.

    It's not exactly a shift in identity or a new way of thinking now that Mike and Colin Priestner have taken over control of the club after the team was sold during the summer, but the WHL is a league that publishes very little information via its boxscores. For Colin, a minority owner and managing partner, "he vowed to leave no stone unturned when it came to improving the club".

    Read More »from Saskatoon Blades display interest in analytics; hire blogger to track possession statistics
  • Brandon Wheat Kings' Ryan Pulock (The Canadian Press)No. 1 Star - Ryan Pulock, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

    Pretty big week for Ryan Pulock. On Sunday he and former Belleville Bull Alan Quine signed their entry-level deals with the New York Islanders. Despite being sent down on Monday as one of the final cuts of the Islanders, the first rounder from this past June made a mark in his first game back in the WHL.

    The Wheaties and the Edmonton Oil Kings combined for seven goals in the second period of their Wednesday contest—the only goals scored during the game came in the second, in fact—with Pulock's second of the contest just squeaking past the goal line with two seconds left in the period. He factored in on all four goals, all of them coming on a dominant Wheaties powerplay. They went 4-for-8 in the game but converted on all four chances they were given by the Kings (of the Oil variety) in the middle frame.

    Couple more notable performances from this game: Edmonton Oilers prospect Mitch Moroz recorded his first WHL hat-trick, and Brandon goaltender Curtis Honey made 33 saves on 36 shots, including a penalty shot attempt by former Phoenix Coyotes first rounder Henrik Samuelsson early in the first period.

    Read More »from Islanders first-rounder Ryan Pulock continues big week in four-point performance: Wednesday’s 3 Stars
  • Faksa's hat trick was his first in 2-plus seasons in the OHL (OHL Images)

    No. 1 Star - Radek Faksa, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

    Radek Faksa had an inauspicious season debut Friday against Peterborough, finishing with no points and a minus-1 in his first game since returning from Dallas Stars camp. He, and his Rangers, had a much better game on Sunday with a 5-3 win over the Oshawa Generals, spoiling the Gens' home opener. Faksa recorded a hat-trick, sealing it with 1:28 to go in the third and final period. He also scored a penalty shot goal in a back-and-forth game where the Rangers never trailed, but took 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads before pulling away with Curtis Meighan's first on the season on the powerplay 2:42 in the third. That goal wound up chasing Gens goalie Daniel Altshuller, who has allowed three or more goals in each of this three starts this season.

    No. 2 Star - Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

    A disaster last season on the ice, the Charlottetown Islanders started off the 2013-2014 season with the new name on a positive note, winning their first five games. They still remain unbeaten in 65 minutes, but the Drakkar went to the shootout Sunday to hand them their first loss of the season, and the Los Angeles Kings' select from this past June played a big part.

    The big Russian scored a goal and two assists, and beat Islanders goaltender Antoine Bibeau for the only goal of the shootout contest, sealing the winner. All three of Zykov's points came in the third period as the Drakkar stormed back from a 4-0 deficit midway through the second period. Zykov also wound up +4.

    No. 3 Star - Corbin Boes, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

    Just one game on the WHL schedule, and it wound up with Lethbridge knocking off division rival Edmonton on the road despite getting outshot by a 2-to-1 ratio. Former Brandon Wheat King Corbin Boes made 39 stops on a 42-shot onslaught from a loaded Oil Kings team, and stopped all 20 shots he faced in the first period of play.

    The Hurricanes got goals from five different players and scored three goals within a 42 second span early in the third period to tie the game, take the lead and get some insurance for Boes. What may be notable is that while Boes has had to stop 89 shots in just two appearances this season for the Hurricanes, that same defensive group held the Oil Kings to just five shots in the third period of Sunday's game.

    Read More »from Faksa with trick, Zykov powers Drakkar comeback – Sunday’s Three Stars
  • New territory: Managing expectations for the 2012 top pick Mat Barzal

    BarzalTo hear Mathew Barzal tell it, he only had a couple of butterflies in his stomach returning home to play his first Western Hockey League game in Canada. Barzal was the first overall pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2012's WHL Bantam Draft and a graduate of the Burnaby Winter Club program. He was also the runaway leading scorer last season in the British Columbia Major Midget League, scoring 29 goals and recording 74 assists for 103 total points. Even as a 15-year-old, the youngest age group in midget hockey, he managed to finish 18 points ahead of the next competitor, playing fewer games because of a brief 6-game stint for the Junior A Coquitlam Express.

    His coach, third-year Seattle Thunderbirds bench boss Steve Konowalchuk, called his game against his hometown Vancouver Giants Wednesday night "solid. Not his best game. Not his worst game." Barzal was without a point in a 6-0 rout by the T-Birds over the Giants, a team that doesn't keep it a secret that they're rebuilding. While Barzal may have downplayed his own nervousness playing in front of a gathering of family and friends—as well as an ex-teammate—in his hometown, Konowalchuk said this was a good game to get out of the way early: "He mentioned to some of the guys or one of the coaches before the game that he couldn't remember the last time he was nervous, which is fun."

    The night before, Barzal had been texting with a friend of his from the Winter Club, 2012 15th overall pick Ty Ronning. The two were exchanging pleasantries and trash talk. During the game, Ronning had to twice elude checks from Barzal in front of a strong contingent of fans wearing Burnaby's gold and black sweater. Four players from the BWC were selected in the first round of the 2012 draft and this was the first time two of those players had gone head to head. While each player wants to do what's best for their team, it's no secret that Barzal is the most talented and the one most likely to have a run of success at the junior level and higher on up.

    Read More »from New territory: Managing expectations for the 2012 top pick Mat Barzal
  • Baie-Comeau's Alexis Vanier is one point away from equaling his entire 2012-2013 point total (CP)

    No. 1 Star - Alexis Vanier, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

    Talk about a sweet debut to the draft season. Alexis Vanier, a late-95 birthdate is a first-time eligible defenceman from the QMJHL who scored eight points in his rookie season for the Drakkar last year in 53 games. Not too bad for a rookie defensive defenceman, but unlikely to catch the eye of scouts.

    Already this season in two games, Vanier has nearly eclipsed that total. After a two-point debut last week against Rimouski, Vanier led the Drakkar offence against the Quebec Remparts with a two-goal effort that resulted in five points. He now has seven points through his first three games. The Drakkar, incidentally, absolutely routed the Patrick Roy-less Remparts by a 7-4 score and out-shot them 40-18.

    Also a pretty chippy game as well. Six powerplay goals were scored in the contest—four by the Drakkar, started off by Denis Gorbunov in the first. Baie-Comeau's powerplay came alive in the third, with Jérémy Gregoire potting a couple along with Nicholas Meloche's first ever Q goal. After two assists in his first two games, Baie-Comeau's first rounder this past draft finally tallied.

    No. 2 Star - Travis Konecny, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

    All eyes were on the 2013 Priority Selection's No. 1 pick Friday night, and Konecny delivered, drawing rave reviews on Twitter for his play from fans and press. He factored in on a couple of 67s goals—both assists—in Ottawa's come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Belleville Bulls.

    Down 2-0 in the first, Konecny set up Stan Studnicka on a cross-crease pass, and he had the primary assist on a powerplay goal by Taylor Fielding in the third period that brought the 67s to within one. From there, it was Mike Vlajkov and Joseph Blandasi that scored the tying and winning goals as Ottawa kicked off their season with an important win, desperate to forget last season's mess.

    More on Konecny's debut here.

    No. 3 Star - Oliver Bjorkstrand, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

    The Portland Winterhawks players are once again going to have to draw straws to determine which of their players get featured on the Three Stars. The Columbus Blue Jackets second rounder paced the Portland offence tonight that turned in a routine Portlandesque performance in their opener with a 9-2 win over Prince George. Bjorkstrand had a goal and four assists, leading the charge in a five-goal Winterhawks second period that ended any doubt.

    This one also got chippy in the end, with the teams combining for 49 penalty minutes in the third period. Also of note in the third was Vancouver Canuck prospect Anton Cederholm's first WHL goal, from Adam Rossignol and Nic Petan.

    Read More »from Big D-Man’s five-point night steers Drakkar, big 67′s debut for Konecny: Friday’s Three Stars
  • OHL fight

    No rule changes for the Ontario Hockey League this season were announced on the preseason conference call with media, but league commissioner David Branch suggested last year's big change, the 10-fight limit, had a positive effect on the league and that the rule will be looked at down the road.

    "I think most people recognize hockey is a tough game," Branch said. "In order to be successful at it, you have to be a tough-minded individual."

    The commissioner also suggested that while players, particularly enforcers like Ty Bilcke haven't come out in full support of the ban, that players are embracing the fact that they can be work on their hockey skills and be appreciated for doing things other than fighting. Fighting in the OHL dropped by 24% this past season to just 0.70 per game, which is very close to the QMJHL's 0.67 from last season. Fighting in the junior game has been decreasing steadily for 15 years, and the hockey community's newfound appreciation for the dangers of concussions could lead to a further drop this next season.

    Read More »from With fighting in OHL curbed, Branch must set sights on NHL preseason bouts

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