Sunaya Sapurji

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Sunaya Sapurji is the junior hockey columnist for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Sunaya previously worked at the Toronto Star for 10 years as a copy editor and writer covering the Ontario Hockey League.

  • Rockets off to Memorial Cup final with rout of exhausted Remparts

    QUEBEC CITY — The Kelowna Rockets are one step closer to the Memorial Cup. And two of their players – Madison Bowey and Josh Morrissey – are closer to joining an elite group of hockey players.

    The Rockets advanced to the Memorial Cup final thanks to a 9-3 drubbing of the host Quebec Remparts. They’ll face the OHL champion Oshawa Generals in a showdown for the Canadian Hockey League championship on Sunday.

    “We’re probably considered the underdogs going into this game on Sunday,” said Bowey. “So we’ll take that approach and I think it’ll be a great matchup. I know it’ll be two highly touted teams and two teams battling for a Memorial Cup, so it’ll be a great game.

    A Kelowna victory on Sunday would give both Bowey and Morrissey a Memorial Cup, a gold medal at the world junior championship and a league (WHL) title in the same season. The last player to achieve the feat was Anaheim Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler in 2010 with the Windsor Spitfires and Team USA.

    “It would be very special,” said

    Read More »from Rockets off to Memorial Cup final with rout of exhausted Remparts
  • Guy Lafleur (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)Guy Lafleur (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

    QUEBEC CITY — Guy Lafleur has many memories attached to his time playing in the Colisee in Quebec City. It was here, in 1971, that he was a part of the Quebec Remparts team that won the Memorial Cup.

    It was a different time for hockey, as the Remparts won the Eastern Canadian Championship because the St. Catharines Black Hawks forfeited their series after Game 5 because of threats from the Front de libération du Québec. The Remparts ended up beating Edmonton in a best-of-three Memorial Cup final played at the Colisee.

    “We were considered the ‘Black Aces’ of junior hockey because they were saying we can’t compete with the Ontario teams or the team from out west,” said Lafleur, who scored 130 goals in 62 games that season. “I think we proved that year we could compete against any team.”

    Lafleur held court with reporters on the ice at the Colisee before the semifinal between the WHL champion and the QMJHL host Remparts. The historic Colisee is scheduled for demolition as the new

    Read More »from Guy Lafleur takes trip down Memorial Cup memory lane at Colisee
  • Remparts rebound to eliminate Rimouski and reach Memorial Cup semifinal

    QUEBEC CITY — When Frederik Gauthier was drafted by the Rimouski Oceanic in 2011, it was general manager Philippe Boucher who welcomed him to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

    Some four years later, it was almost fitting that it was Boucher – now the GM and coach of the Quebec Remparts – who was the first to hug Gauthier at the end of his accomplished junior career.

    The Remparts beat the QMJHL-champion Oceanic 5-2 in the tiebreaker of the Memorial Cup to end their season and send them back to Rimouski. Host Quebec will now face the WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets in the semifinal on Friday evening. The winner of that game will play on Sunday in the final against the undefeated Oshawa Generals, the champions from Ontario.

    It was the 19th meeting between the Remparts and Oceanic this season, which included a thrilling seven-game President’s Cup final that was won by Rimouski in a thrilling double-overtime Game 7.

    “They know us inside out,” said Remparts goalie Zach Fucale, who made 30

    Read More »from Remparts rebound to eliminate Rimouski and reach Memorial Cup semifinal
  •  Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

    QUEBEC CITY — Quebec Remparts head coach Philippe Boucher lashed out at officials on Wednesday night. And on Thursday morning, he wasn’t backing down from the criticism.

    The brunt of his ire was directed at the referees from the Quebec Major Junior League - Olivier Gouin and Jonathan Alarie – who worked Game 6 between the Remparts and Rimouski Oceanic. In that game the Oceanic went 2-for-6 on the power play.

    In his post-game comments he took a shot at Richard Trottier, the QMJHL’s director of officiating. There’s no question Boucher will be fined for his outburst, but he’s not concerned.

    “I’m fine with that,” said Boucher of the impending financial sanction. “It’s something I had to get off my chest. We’re threatened by a $5,000 fine in our league if we say anything so it muzzles us. So we can’t really say anything in the playoffs, because we’re threatened to be fined - major fines – all the time.”

    UPDATE: On Thursday night, Boucher was fined $10,000 for comments the CHL deemed "

    Read More »from Boucher isn't worried about being fined after calling out QMJHL officials at Memorial Cup
  • Remparts lose their cool and chance to knock QMJHL rivals out of Memorial Cup

    QUEBEC CITY — It was part deflection, part criticism and more than a few sour grapes for Philippe Boucher.

    The Quebec Remparts general manager and head coach lashed out at officials after his team’s 4-0 loss to the Rimouski Oceanic on Wednesday night in the final game of the round robin at the Memorial Cup. The Rimouski victory forced a tournament tiebreaker, which means both teams will go at it again on Thursday evening to decide who will face the Kelowna Rockets in the semifinal. The OHL’s Oshawa Generals have already advanced to Sunday’s final.

    Boucher was incensed with the referees from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – Olivier Gouin and Jonathan Alarie – who handed out six power plays to the Oceanic on which they scored twice.

    There’s a bit of back story to Boucher’s critique. Both Gouin and Alarie worked Game 7 of the QMJHL final between Quebec and Rimouski. That game was in double overtime when Quebec defenceman Matt Murphy was assessed a tripping penalty which put

    Read More »from Remparts lose their cool and chance to knock QMJHL rivals out of Memorial Cup
  • Canadiens prospect Gregoire gives up award to help runner-up Talbot-Tassi

    Jeremy Gregoire of the Baie-Comeau DrakkarJeremy Gregoire of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar

    QUEBEC CITY — When Jeremy Gregoire won the Guy Lafleur Award of Excellence –a $6,000 bursary to put towards his education – he didn’t think twice about what he was going to do with it.

    The captain of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar had won the same award in 2014 and after signing a three-year entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens in January, he decided to help someone else. That person was the runner-up, Moncton Wildcats defenceman Dominic Talbot-Tassi.

    “I was lucky enough to win two times in a row,” said Gregoire, who earned his CEGEP diploma with an 87 per cent average. “Both times Dominic finished second. It was an honour to have the prize go to him because he’s not only a good hockey player too, but a good student.

    “I already have one (bursary), so it was the least I could give him.”

    The pair met for the first time at the award presentation last year and have a mutual admiration, both knowing how difficult it is to balance school and hockey.

    Talbot-Tassi is planning to continue

    Read More »from Canadiens prospect Gregoire gives up award to help runner-up Talbot-Tassi
  • Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McCarron comes up big at Memorial Cup

    QUEBEC CITY — It has been quite the reversal of fortune for Michael McCarron.

    One year ago, the 20-year-old forward was a member of the London Knights, the Memorial Cup hosts who failed to post a single win at the tournament. This time around, however, McCarron is a member of the undefeated Oshawa Generals, who punched their ticket to the Memorial Cup final on Tuesday night with a 2-1 victory over the Kelowna Rockets.

    So, what changed in 12 months?

    “Last year I was with London and there was a lot of pressure on home ice,” said McCarron. “We lost our first game and I think we were holding our sticks a little too tight for the rest of the tournament. This tournament we got off to a great start and that’s the big key there I think.”

    The Generals will get four days off before playing in Sunday’s tournament finale. The last time Oshawa won the Memorial Cup was in 1990 in Hamilton. That Oshawa team was led by Eric Lindros and twice defeated the Kitchener Rangers in overtime thrillers to

    Read More »from Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McCarron comes up big at Memorial Cup
  • Roy hopes for NHL in Quebec City during hometown celebration

    Patrick Roy. Jacques Boissinot / La Presse CanadiennePatrick Roy. Jacques Boissinot / La Presse Canadienne

    QUEBEC CITY — It was a special homecoming for Patrick Roy on Tuesday night at the Colisee. In front of thousands of adoring fans, the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche had his name raised to the rafters on a banner, honouring the NHL legend.

    Even players like Quebec Remparts goalie Zach Fucale, who grew up in Rosemere, Que., were excited about the prospect of seeing Roy feted.

    “It’s very special,” said Fucale. “The people here in Quebec really appreciated everything he’s done here and for the sport. I mean he’s a legend of the sport. Obviously tonight it’s going to be a special night for Quebec.”

    Roy said he hopes one day the NHL will once again return to Quebec City, where they have almost finished construction on the 18,482-seat state-of-the-art Videotron Centre next to the Colisee.

    “This is a great hockey town,” said Roy. “The people in Quebec they love hockey - just looking at the (QMJHL’s) Remparts – to see how many people are coming night after night to support this team for

    Read More »from Roy hopes for NHL in Quebec City during hometown celebration
  • Kelowna's stars show up at Memorial Cup and Leon Draisaitl shines the brightest

    QUEBEC CITY — The stars came out Monday night for the Kelowna Rockets. Not surprisingly, Leon Draisaitl shined brightest.

    The Rockets took a step forward when they managed their first win of the 2015 Memorial Cup in a 7-3 blowout over the Rimouski Oceanic. Draisaitl finished the game with three points, scoring twice and setting up one of linemate Nick Merkley’s two goals. It was a much-needed result for the Western Hockey League champions who lost their opener to the Quebec Remparts.

    “It’s nice to show the hockey world what we are capable of,” said Draisaitl. “We played, in my opinion one of the worst games we played all year against Quebec so it’s nice to get everyone going and get a few guys on the scoresheet and show the world we are better than we have been.

    “It was nice to score that many goals for sure.”

    The Rockets will have little rest, facing the Oshawa Generals (2-0) on Tuesday night. The QMJHL-champion Oceanic (0-2) will fight for their tournament lives on Wednesday in a

    Read More »from Kelowna's stars show up at Memorial Cup and Leon Draisaitl shines the brightest
  • Stephen Desrocher's decision to take advice from roommate, billet dad pays off for Generals

    QUEBEC CITY — At home in Oshawa, Ont., Michael Dal Colle is always eager to give advice. His roommate, Generals defenceman Stephen Desrocher, doesn’t always – or ever – seem to pay attention to those nuggets of goal-scoring wisdom.

    “He doesn’t like to listen to me anyway,” said Dal Colle, Oshawa’s leading scorer in the regular and postseason. “He kind of does his own thing.”

    The feeling, says Desrocher, is mutual when he tries to give his two cents on Dal Colle’s defensive game.

    “We’re roommates so we’re always harassing each other and chirping each other here and there,” said Desrocher. “We try to give each other pointers but it doesn’t sink in – in one ear and out the other.”

    On Sunday night, however, it was Desrocher who was the offensive threat for Oshawa, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to edge the Quebec Remparts 5-4. Generals centre Cole Cassels won a faceoff in the Quebec zone with the puck going back to Desrochers. The undrafted 19-year-old eluded Quebec Remparts

    Read More »from Stephen Desrocher's decision to take advice from roommate, billet dad pays off for Generals

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