Mike Sanderson

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  • 2015 QMJHL Draft: Veleno taken first overall by Sea Dogs as first QMJHL exceptional status pick

    The Saint John Sea Dogs, picking first for the second time in two years and the fifth time in their history, grabbed Joseph Veleno first overall. (Vincent Ethier)The Saint John Sea Dogs, picking first for the second time in two years and the fifth time in their history, grabbed Joseph Veleno first overall. (Vincent Ethier)
    The Saint John Sea Dogs followed the script Saturday and took the player everyone predicted, selecting Joseph Veleno first overall at the Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet in Sherbrooke.

    Predicted since Thursday, anyway, when Hockey Canada finally allowed Veleno’s application for exceptional status. Veleno turned 15 years old in January. He is the first exceptional status player to enter the QMJHL.

    The Kirkland native had 52 points in 41 games in Quebec’s highest midget circuit. He also had 10 points in six games for Team Quebec at the Canada Winter Games this season, and added five points in five games for Quebec Blue at the Gatorade Excellence Challenge. He is a gifted offensive player but also plays a 200ft game, and will be a great asset for the Sea Dogs on and off the ice.

    There have been four other CHL players granted the exceptional status tag and all four entered the OHL draft.

    He’ll have his work cut out for him, as the Sea Dogs look to retool following a trying year with a

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  • 2015 QMJHL Draft Preview: Veleno declared exceptional status, likely to be taken first

    Hockey Canada changed their mind and gave Kirkland, Qc., native Joseph Veleno exceptional status for the 2015 QMJHL Draft, where he's expected to be picked first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs. (Kevin Raftery/Postmedia)Hockey Canada changed their mind and gave Kirkland, Qc., native Joseph Veleno exceptional status for the 2015 QMJHL Draft, where he's expected to be picked first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs. (Kevin Raftery/Postmedia)

    Hockey Canada shook up QMJHL team draft boards Thursday, reversing their original decision and allowing 15-year-old prodigy Joseph Veleno to enter the 2015 QMJHL Draft.

    Canada’s hockey brass originally said no to the young star from Kirkland, just outside of Montreal, as he submitted his papers for exceptional status after the deadline, but they changed their minds.

    The draft is set to run Saturday at the Palais des Sports Léopold-Drolet in Sherbrooke, home of the Phoenix.

    Veleno is a 200-foot player, rare at 15, and a great skater with great instincts. He immediately shot up the draft board into the number one spot and will most likely be the number one selection by the Saint John Sea Dogs come Saturday. His 52 points in 41 games were good enough for 12th in scoring in the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League this season, as an underaged 14-year-old. He idolizes Jonathan Drouin, another talent from his Lac-Saint-Louis program, and he hopes to follow that path of QMJHL to NHL.

    It is the

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  • Memorial Cup preview: Top 10 Quebec Remparts observations

    The host Quebec Remparts came one goal away from winning the President's Cup title against the Rimouski Oceanic. (Vincent Ethier)The host Quebec Remparts came one goal away from winning the President's Cup title against the Rimouski Oceanic. (Vincent Ethier)
    With the King of Late Night signing off, Buzzing The Net is borrowing the Top Ten trope to profile the Memorial Cup teams. It's an homage. Or as David Letterman would say to someone who tried to slip a fancy word by him, "you mean stealing."

    Presenting the host Quebec Remparts, who are the only team to make a Memorial Cup tournament three times without winning the league championship. They last won the cup in 2006.

    10. “Man, that Erne guy can score.”

    The 2015 playoffs belonged to the American kid from New Haven, CT.

    Remparts forward Adam Erne fired 21 pucks past opposing goalies, well ahead of any other player in the 2015 QMJHL post-season. (Vincent Ethier)Remparts forward Adam Erne fired 21 pucks past opposing goalies, well ahead of any other player in the 2015 QMJHL post-season. (Vincent Ethier)Adam Erne dented the twine 21 times in 22 games for the Remparts in the 2015 playoffs, enough to win the Guy Lafleur trophy as the playoff’s most valuable player. He was the first player to win the honour in a losing effort since Alain Lemieux, Mario’s older brother, did it with the Trois-Rivières Draveurs in 1980-81. He’s only the second player ever to do so.

    The Tampa Bay pick had 41 goals in the regular season to go with his 86 points as he crept up the lineup and moved

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  • Memorial Cup preview: Top 10 Rimouski Oceanic observations

    The Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Quebec Remparts in the President's Cup final, winning both games 6 and 7 in overtime to win. (Vincent Ethier)The Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Quebec Remparts in the President's Cup final, winning both games 6 and 7 in overtime to win. (Vincent Ethier)
    With the King of Late Night signing off, Buzzing The Net is borrowing the Top Ten trope to profile the Memorial Cup teams. It's an homage. Or as David Letterman would say to someone who tried to slip a fancy word by him, "you mean stealing."

    Presenting the Rimouski Oceanic, who are looking to give the QMJHL its fourth Memorial Cup title in five years, and add to their team’s title in 2000.

    10. “We had it in the bag from the get-go.”

    Rimouski brings their best Oceanic team to the tourney since the Sidney Crosby-led squad in 2005.

    This year's team was never really tested until they got to the President’s Cup final, where it took game 7 overtime to dispatch the Memorial Cup host Quebec Remparts and claim the title.

    Rimouski only lost one game until the final, when they ran into big problems with 7-4 and 4-1 losses at home in the first two games. They regrouped and tied the series, dropped game 5 and won 6 and 7 in overtime.

    They swept a lousy Victoriaville Tigre team, beat a

    Read More »from Memorial Cup preview: Top 10 Rimouski Oceanic observations
  • Rimouski, Quebec battle for President’s Cup after both earning berths in the 2015 Memorial Cup

    Alexis Loiseau and the Rimouski Oceanic will take on the 2015 Memorial Cup host Quebec Remparts in a rivalry showdown. (CP /Ghyslain Bergeron)Alexis Loiseau and the Rimouski Oceanic will take on the 2015 Memorial Cup host Quebec Remparts in a rivalry showdown. (CP /Ghyslain Bergeron)
    A major rivalry for a league final is always a good thing, and Rimouski-Québec is one of the biggest in the league right now.

    This will be a clash of the ages, as we predicted at the start of the season. (Don’t look at those other picks though. Those are an illusion. Especially the ones we were wrong about.)

    But it’s not how predictable the end result is, it’s the journey, and both teams proved to be the best ones in the league, through the regular season, with Rimouski at the top of the table and Quebec in fourth, and in the playoffs, as both teams swept through the Moncton Wildcats and the Val-d’Or Foreurs to get here.

    This leads to what should be a heck of a series, but will both teams keep a little left in the tank? Quebec, as hosts, are guaranteed a birth in the 2015 Memorial Cup, and Rimouski, as the next best team, be they winners or runners-up, automatically earn that second league birth. Will there be that same desire and passion to win the series and the President’s Cup? Or

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  • Oceanic join Remparts at the 2015 Memorial Cup with their sweep of the Foreurs: the coast-to-coast

    Louis-Philip Guindon's Rimouski Oceanic knocked out the Val-d'Or Foreurs Wednesday to make a date with the Quebec Remparts. (CP/Ghyslain Bergeron)Louis-Philip Guindon's Rimouski Oceanic knocked out the Val-d'Or Foreurs Wednesday to make a date with the Quebec Remparts. (CP/Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines…

    WHL

    The Kelowna Rockets bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season and beat the Portland Winterhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night to make their series a best-of-three. Game 5 goes Friday. (PortlandTribune.com)

    The Brandon Wheat Kings are one win away from the WHL final after an 8-3 drubbing of the Calgary Hitmen. (CalgaryHerald.com)

    Speaking of the Winterhawks, their owner, Bill Gallacher, was busy on Wednesday, acquiring the Kloten Flyers of Switzerland’s NLA. (TheLocal.ch)

    Swift Current Bronco Jake DeBrusk and his father, former Oiler and current Sportsnet analyst Louie, are two completely different hockey players. (NHL.com)

    The Seattle Thunderbirds have some great rookie depth they hope will translate into more wins next season. (Seattle.CBSLocal.com)

    Winterhawks forward Nic Petan is nearing the start of his pro career, but his Portland team is still alive, and he’s okay with that. He

    Read More »from Oceanic join Remparts at the 2015 Memorial Cup with their sweep of the Foreurs: the coast-to-coast
  • Isles dump Dwyer after second round exit

    Gordie Dwyer was let go as head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders after they won their first series in 11 years. His team was bounced from the playoffs by the Quebec Remparts in a sweep in the second round. (CP/Ghyslain Bergeron)Gordie Dwyer was let go as head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders after they won their first series in 11 years. His team was bounced from the playoffs by the Quebec Remparts in a sweep in the second round. (CP/Ghyslain Bergeron)
    The Charlottetown Islanders won their first playoff round in 11 years this season, but it wasn’t enough to save bench boss Gordie Dwyer’s job.

    After praising his team’s ability to play through injuries and illness, Islanders GM Grant Sonier let the axe fall on head coach Dwyerafter four seasons at the helm.

    Dwyer and the Islanders were swept out of the second round by the 2015 Memorial Cup hosts the Quebec Remparts, but it only the second time the team had made it past the league’s opening round of the post-season.

    The team had to deal with several players on intravenous during and after their opening round six game thriller against the Sherbrooke Phoenix, and dealt with an injury to starting netminder Mason McDonald in that series.

    Backup goalie Daryl MacCallum filled in admirably for his injured partner, coming back to win the series against the Phoenix, but it wasn’t enough to save his coach’s job.

    Ultimately it was the four-game loss in the second round that was the last straw for

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  • QMJHL’s semifinal preview: Rested versus restless in Q’s third round

    Louis-Philip Guindon has been perfect so far for Rimouski, boasting a 5-0 playoff record. The Oceanic open their series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs Friday. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)Louis-Philip Guindon has been perfect so far for Rimouski, boasting a 5-0 playoff record. The Oceanic open their series against the Val-d'Or Foreurs Friday. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)
    An age-old hockey question will be asked again this playoff year: would you rather come into a series winning late and carrying momentum? Or would you rather be well-rested and ready?

    Both QMJHL semi-final series feature teams that will attempt to answer these questions.

    All the favourites from the previous series advanced to the semi-finals in the QMJHL, but two teams took a heck of a battle to get here.

    The Val-d’Or Foreurs overcame a 3-0 series deficit over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar to defeat them in seven games in overtime. The Moncton Wildcats overcame a 2-0 series deficit to dispatch the Halifax Mooseheads in seven.

    The Rimouski Oceanic and the Quebec Remparts both have extended breaks coming into the next series, so both matchups feature a well-rested team. The long-standing battle of rest versus momentum carries on.

    The 2015 Memorial Cup hosts are still alive, handling the young upstart Charlottetown Islanders in a four game sweep after having trouble with the Cape Breton

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  • Foreurs make history while Garland, Wildcats bury Mooseheads in pair of emotional game 7s

    Foreurs forward Alexis Pepin was the hero in Val-d'Or's game 7 overtime comeback win. The Foreurs were just the fifth team in the history of the QMJHL to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Foreurs forward Alexis Pepin was the hero in Val-d'Or's game 7 overtime comeback win. The Foreurs were just the fifth team in the history of the QMJHL to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Finally, semi-final matchups are set in the QMJHL, and it took some heroics to do it.

    Alexis Pépin buried a 2-on-1 with Pierre-Maxime Poudrier to give the Val-d’Or Foreurs a 4-3 win in game 7 of their series against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

    The end of the game was marred by a fight between Baie-Comeau's Chad Pietroniro and Val-d'Or's Jeremy Fraser. The fight happened after the final buzzer while the Foreurs were waiting for the customary post-series hand shakes to take place. The Drakkar were apparently upset with Fraser's celebration while passing their bench on the game winner. They also reportedly took umbrage with a clip the Foreurs showed on the video scoreboard of goalie Philippe Cadorette smashing his stick during their playoff game last season which they also lost.

    Both teams left the ice without ever shaking hands.

     The Foreurs, who escaped getting swept in the series in double overtime in game 4, clawed all the way back to win games 5 and 6, and won game 7 Tuesday 4-3 on

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  • Yates, Sea Dogs agree to split in surprising move

    Ross Yates had a record of 46-60-6-7 in parts of two seasons behind the Sea Dogs bench. (SaintJohnSeaDogs.com)Ross Yates had a record of 46-60-6-7 in parts of two seasons behind the Sea Dogs bench. (SaintJohnSeaDogs.com)
    The Saint John Sea Dogs will continue their rebuilding efforts next season, and will have a new man behind the bench to coach their young prospects and first overall selection.

    The team and head coach Ross Yates have agreed to part ways Tuesday, according to the team’s press release.

    From the release:

    "Ross Yates is a man of integrity who was a true professional in all of his roles with our club," said Sea Dogs President Wayne Long. "We have very high expectations for next season and beyond. We just felt, as an organization, that we wanted to make a change."

    "I met with Wayne at the end of the year and we decided, mutually, that it was best to part ways and go in different directions," Yates said. "I enjoyed my time in Saint John and wish the team success in the years to come."

    Yates was a good company man who had to mold together a couple of mediocre Sea Dogs teams into something competitive. He got his start as an assistant to Mike Kelly in 2012, ultimately taking over for Kelly in

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