Mike Sanderson

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  • 2016 QMJHL third round playoff preview: the cream has risen to the top

    Saint John's Thomas Chabot has been the league's best defenceman in the playoffs, with 17 points from the back end and solid two-way play. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Saint John's Thomas Chabot has been the league's best defenceman in the playoffs, with 17 points from the back end and solid two-way play. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Welcome to Buzzing The Net’s preview of the third round of the QMJHL playoffs.

    The second round is over, and from the smoke emerges four teams – the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, the Shawinigan Cataractes, the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Moncton Wildcats. The three division winners are still around, along with the Wildcats, who led the Maritimes division for a good stretch at the start of the season. The league finally had its first series that went the distance, when the Sea Dogs dispatched the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in Game 7 6-2.

    In the second round, Mike went 2-for-4, and whiffed completely on Moncton and Shawinigan. That puts his playoffs predictions record at 8-for-12. He got the correct team and games in the Saint John series in the second round, meaning five of his twelve series predictions have been correct. You may read his second round preview here, and his first round previews here and here.

    Third round action opens in Shawinigan and Rouyn-Noranda Friday night.

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  • 2016 QMJHL second round preview: end of the line for the Armada

    Rouyn-Noranda's Timo Meier led the playoffs in scoring in the first round, with 13 points in four games. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Rouyn-Noranda's Timo Meier led the playoffs in scoring in the first round, with 13 points in four games. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Welcome to Buzzing The Net’s preview of the second round of the QMJHL playoffs.

    Only one series featured a true upset in the Q’s first round – 13th-seeded Blainville-Boisbriand dispatched fourth seed Val-d’Or in five games. No series went further than six games. All teams entering play will be well rested, and three of the four series provide very interesting matchups to survey.

    In the first round, Mike went 6-for-8, missing Moncton and Blainville-Boisbriand. He called the winner in the correct number of games in four of the eight first round series. You may read his first round previews here and here.

    Second round action opens in Saint John and Shawinigan Thursday night, and in Gatineau and Rouyn-Noranda Friday night.

    (5) Gatineau Olympiques (49-15-3-1, 102 points) vs. (6) Moncton Wildcats (42-20-6-0, 90 points)

    Season series: Moncton (1-0-1-0). Prediction: Olympiques in 6.

    Series in a sentence: Offence wins games, but defence wins championships, and the Olympiques were the league’s

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  • Veleno, year one: exceptional, once you look at it

    Saint John's Joe Veleno has looked impressive in his own right as the QMJHL's youngest player this season. (QMJHL Images)Saint John's Joe Veleno has looked impressive in his own right as the QMJHL's youngest player this season. (QMJHL Images)
    This season, Saint John Sea Dogs forward Joe Veleno did what no other QMJHL player has ever done before – play a season in the QMJHL as an exceptional status player.

    After a very late and controversial call to make Veleno the first non-OHL exception pick from Hockey Canada, fans were waiting for a strong season from the league’s first overall pick.

    They did get a strong rookie season from Veleno, but a combination of strong linemates and strong team meant that he didn’t get to show off as much exceptional talent as he might have otherwise, with a strong and deep Saint John team preventing him from having to step into a big role right away.

    In fact, you could be forgiven if the first thing you think of in regards to Veleno is a play in December in Halifax, where he was hit by Kelly Bent and then tangled in a scrum with the overager, while Sea Dogs forward Boko Imama came off the player’s bench to step in on the Mooseheads’ enforcer, throwing punches at Bent over a linesman and earning

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  • 2016 QMJHL first round playoff preview: Part 2 – the maybes

    Moncton Wildcats goaltender Keven Bouchard might be the most impactful player in all of the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Moncton Wildcats goaltender Keven Bouchard might be the most impactful player in all of the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Welcome to Buzzing The Net’s preview of the first round of the QMJHL playoffs.

    The OHL and the WHL have regional playoffs and conferences to fight though, but the QMJHL wants none of that in their own #RoadToRedDeer, so they opt for the 1-to-16 straight league seeding format. Here at Buzzing The Net, we’ll look at the first round of the Q playoffs in a two-part series, starting with the top contenders and ending with the middle matchups.

    All series start with Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday.

    (5) Gatineau Olympiques (49-15-3-1, 102 points) vs. (12) Québec Remparts (26-32-8-2, 62 points)

    Season series: Gatineau (3-1-0-0). Prediction: Olympiques in 4.

    Series in a sentence: A series that should be short and may be better remembered for the drama from the two coaches off the ice rather than anything on it.

    Why the Olympiques should win: The Olympiques are built for the playoffs, with a devastating top pairing on the blue line and a defensive system played to a tee thanks to veteran

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  • 2016 QMJHL first round playoff preview: Part 1 – contenders vs. pretenders

    Philippe Cadorette was acquired by  of the Shawinigan Cataractes to address their goaltending situation, and he has 60 career QMJHL playoff games to his credit. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Philippe Cadorette was acquired by of the Shawinigan Cataractes to address their goaltending situation, and he has 60 career QMJHL playoff games to his credit. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    Welcome to Buzzing The Net’s preview of the first round of the QMJHL playoffs.

    The OHL and the WHL have regional playoffs and conferences to fight though, but the QMJHL wants none of that in their own #RoadToRedDeer, so they opt for the 1-to-16 straight league seeding format. Here at Buzzing The Net, we’ll look at the first round of the Q playoffs in a two-part series, starting with the top contenders and ending with the middle matchups.

    All series start with Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday.

    (4) Val-d’Or Foreurs (49-15-3-1, 102 points) vs. (13) Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (26-32-8-2, 62 points)

    Season series: Val-d’Or (5-0-1-0). Prediction: Foreurs in 4.

    Series in a sentence: The Armada called up a Junior A goalie and scratched a number of players for their final game of the year to avoid playing the Foreurs and it backfired; much like how this series will go.

    Why the Foreurs should win: They bring size and a lot of experience to the table.Mario Durocher’s men have been battling

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  • Behind closed doors, QMJHL refs receive failing grades from coaches

    Referee Olivier Gouin (L) signals a penalty during the 2015 Mastercard Memorial Cup. Gouin was one of the two QMJHL officials to work the Memorial Cup in 2015, and has graduated to working some AHL games this season at only 25 years old. (REUTERS / Mathieu Belanger)Referee Olivier Gouin (L) signals a penalty during the 2015 Mastercard Memorial Cup. Gouin was one of the two QMJHL officials to work the Memorial Cup in 2015, and has graduated to working some AHL games this season at only 25 years old. (REUTERS / Mathieu Belanger)
    Be it international sneers for ruining the ice surface or getting hit in the nether regions with a beer can for doing their job, the officials have had it tough in the QMJHL in 2015-16.

    Making the right call can turn an already-hostile arena and one team completely against them, and don’t even think of making a wrong one.

    According to coaches, they’ve been making a lot of the wrong calls this year.

    The latest report, from F.-D. Rouleau at the Journal de Montreal, is scathing. A number of Q coaches ripped apart the officiating staff of the league, stating that the game is confusing with inconsistencies between games and between referees, and even the suspension system.

    The coaches surveyed responded under anonymity. If they made themselves public they would surely get fined.

    “I would give the officials a 9-out-of-10 some nights, and then a 2- or 3-out-of-10 on others,” one coach said. “It’s very unequal. Sometimes we have great referees and sometimes we have very bad ones.

    “There are

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  • Gilbert out, Mantha in after Spirit lose eight straight

    The Saginaw Spirit served a pink slip to head coach Greg Gilbert Tuesday, sending the former OHL coach of the year winner packing after his team has been caught in a mighty collapse.

    The Spirits have lost their last eight contests, including a blowout 11-4 loss to the division rival Sarnia Sting on Monday, leading to the firing and Moe Mantha taking his place on an interim basis.

    Saginaw holds the final playoff spot in the West Division of the Western Conference, but the eight-game slide has knocked them nine points behind the third place Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

    They are eight points up on the Flint Firebirds, and at least they have a better idea of how and when to fire a coach.

    Gilbert has nearly coached as long as he’s played the game, starting his coaching career in the AHL with the Worchester Ice Cats the year after hanging up the blades. A 15-year NHL career gave way to a 20-year coaching career in the NHL, AHL and OHL, including parts of three seasons as head coach of the

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  • Meier on the move to Rouyn-Noranda as QMJHL trading period wraps up

    Halifax Mooseheads forward Timo Meier will join the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies among the myriad of moves as the QMJHL's mid-season trading period ended Wednesday. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)Halifax Mooseheads forward Timo Meier will join the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies among the myriad of moves as the QMJHL's mid-season trading period ended Wednesday. (CP / Ghyslain Bergeron)
    The QMJHL trading period closed its doors Wednesday and the big prize of the flurry of deals snuck under the wire up to the Abitibi-Témiscamingue in black and red.

    The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies made the biggest splash in the midnight hour, picking up San Jose first rounder Timo Meier from the Halifax Mooseheads for a first and second rounder in 2017 and a fourth round pick in 2018.

    Meier, the Moosehead captain and the winner of the league’s Michael-Bossy Trophy for best professional prospect last season, was the biggest name on the move by noon Wednesday as the league closed their annual mid-season trading window. The period opened up December 19.

    The Huskies, the league’s second best team after a Val-d’Or Foreur win Tuesday pushed them out of top spot, also moved out a pair of players, their first rounder last summer Louis-Filip Côté and Vincent Chapleau, recovering a trio of draft picks in return, including a first rounder in 2018.

    Rouyn-Noranda added blueliner Nikolas Brouillard from

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  • Ducharme will stay in Finland for WJC after father's passing

    Team Canada assistant coach Dominique Ducharme will remain with the team for the rest of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship after the death of his father.

    Ducharme’s father Jacques passed away in his sleep Tuesday night, but the Halifax Mooseheads coach will stay with Team Canada in Finland.

    “There’s just a week left,” Ducharme said. “My dad was very proud that I’m here and I think he would have wanted me to stay.”

    Ducharme’s mother also pushed him to stay and finish the tournament. He learned of his father’s death after Canada’s 3-2 win over Switzerland.

    Head coach Dave Lowry and the team are in full support mode of their assistant coach.

    “It shows how much the tournament is important to him,” Lowry said. "It's unfortunate what happened last night but his dad would expect him to carry on, push on and he got the same encouragement from his mom.

    “I know he had a very strong relationship with his dad."

    "We're all here for him," said Lawson Crouse. "We're going to do whatever

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  • WJC 2016: Three Swedish goals go through mesh and back out in pre-tourney tune-up

    Team Canada celebrates after one of their seven goals Wednesday against Team Sweden. The Canadians held off a hot Swedish attack in the third period; hot enough to see three pucks off Swedish goals go through the back of the net. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)Team Canada celebrates after one of their seven goals Wednesday against Team Sweden. The Canadians held off a hot Swedish attack in the third period; hot enough to see three pucks off Swedish goals go through the back of the net. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)
    In these pre-tournament exhibition games, it's not only practice time for both teams playing.

    It's apparently tune-up time for the nets, and they need some fine tuning after Canada's 7-6 win over Sweden Wednesday.

    Team Canada was cruising after two periods with a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes at Helsinki Ice Hall for their final pre-tourney game for the IIHF 2016 World Junior Hockey Championships.

    Then a strong Swedish third nearly stole the game for Tre Kronor, and the Swedes were so hot in the final stanza, three of their goals went through the mesh in the back of the net and out the back.

    Check it out on Adrian Kempe’s goal:

    Rink attendants at Helsinki Ice Hall will have to break out their road hockey handbook for ways to fix up those holes. Maybe some cable tie clips, or some thread, or something.

    It will

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