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.

  • 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
  • The Big Rig comes up huge for Oshawa in Memorial Cup win over Rimouski

    QUEBEC CITY — It’s with good reason that Hunter Smith has earned the nickname Big Rig. At 6-foot-6 and 215-pounds, the Oshawa Generals forward cuts an imposing figure. His thick, full beard makes him look more like Paul Bunyan ready to cut a swath through the forest than a 19-year-old Calgary Flames prospect.

    “He’s a pretty big guy so he’s pretty hard to contain,” said teammate Michael Dal Colle. “Getting drafted in the (NHL’s) second round proves that he’s not just a guy who’s going to hit you. He can also score goals and he has a great shot.”

    On Saturday afternoon Smith showed that offensive touch by scoring the game winner to give the OHL-champion Oshawa Generals a 4-3 victory over the Rimouski Oceanic, the QMJHL champions, at the Memorial Cup.

    With the game tied 3-3 halfway through the third period it was Smith who went out looking for redemption. Earlier in the period he had taken a tripping penalty on which the Oceanic capitalized to tie the game on the power play.

    “If we lost

    Read More »from The Big Rig comes up huge for Oshawa in Memorial Cup win over Rimouski
  • Maple Leafs prospect Donaghey on injury, Babcock and a house divided

    Quebec Remparts defenceman Cody Donaghey.Quebec Remparts defenceman Cody Donaghey.

    QUEBEC CITY— It’s been a tough season for Cody Donaghey. On Dec. 10 the Quebec Remparts defenceman was hit by Moncton Wildcats forward Will Smith and tore both his ACL and his MCL. He underwent knee surgery in early January and has been sidelined ever since.

    Missing the Remparts playoff run to the QMJHL final was bad enough, but missing out on the Memorial Cup has been even worse.

    "It's pretty sour sitting in the stands and watching the boys play, but I'm still going to cheer them on,” said the 19-year-old.

    But it’s not all bad news. Donaghey, who signed a three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent last summer, has been progressing well with his rehabilitation after having both his ligaments repaired.

    "I'm still ahead of schedule," said the blueliner. "Obviously I would have loved to have played in the Memorial Cup, but Toronto didn't want to take the risk. They're obviously looking for the long term.”

    He's back on the ice and in the gym four or five days a week

    Read More »from Maple Leafs prospect Donaghey on injury, Babcock and a house divided
  • Quebec Remparts exploit Kelowna's lapses in discipline to grab Memorial Cup opener

    The Quebec Remparts edge the WHL champion Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of the Memorial Cup. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL ImagesThe Quebec Remparts edge the WHL champion Kelowna Rockets in Game 1 of the Memorial Cup. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

    QUEBEC CITY — In the hours prior to his game against the Kelowna Rockets, Adam Erne spoke about the disappointment of having lost the QMJHL title in double overtime of Game 7.

    As hosts of the 2015 Memorial Cup, the Quebec Remparts were already guaranteed a berth in the tournament, but now they were coming in as the only team that hadn’t won anything. The 20-year-old was stoic when asked about quickly putting aside that disappointment – Quebec also allowed a big lead to disappear in Game 6 of the Q final - for the tournament.

    "Honestly I think if we would have won it would have been probably more difficult,” said Erne. “You lose, you’re hungry to win.

    "These guys have already won, I think it’s harder for them to focus and try to get back on track. For us, we want to get going again – the other teams haven’t felt what we felt. It’s still something that stings for us and we’re going to use it as motivation."

    And that motivation proved enough as the Remparts pulled out a 4-3 victory over

    Read More »from Quebec Remparts exploit Kelowna's lapses in discipline to grab Memorial Cup opener
  • Report: Vancouver Giants in talks with Nolan over coaching gig

    Former Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan. (AP Photo/LM Otero)Former Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    Ted Nolan could once again be heading back to coach in the Canadian Hockey League. According to a report in the Vancouver Province, the former Buffalo Sabres head coach has been in contact with the WHL's Vancouver Giants about their vacancy.

    The Giants parted ways with former Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel in March after the team finished last in the WHL's Western Conference with a 27-41-2-2 record.

    Noel still had a year left on his Winnipeg Jets’ contract, and, as the story goes, he kept getting that money when he joined the Giants after Ward was let go. Vancouver, in turn, paid Winnipeg the equivalent of a WHL coaching wage. (Vancouver Province)

    Nolan was fired by the Sabres in April after a lackluster 23-51-8 season in which they were accused of tanking for Connor McDavid the top pick in the 2015 NHL draft. Nolan has an extensive coaching resume in junior, having coached in both the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

    He started in 1989 with the

    Read More »from Report: Vancouver Giants in talks with Nolan over coaching gig
  • Oshawa Generals eliminate Otters, McDavid to claim OHL championship

    Oshawa Generals goalie Ken Appleby hugs the OHL's J. Ross Robertson trophy. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL ImagesOshawa Generals goalie Ken Appleby hugs the OHL's J. Ross Robertson trophy. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

    OSHAWA, Ont. — As the Oshawa Generals skated around the ice passing around J. Ross Robertson Trophy after winning the OHL championship, another trophy sat solitary on the floor of a hallway far from the celebration.

    That trophy, belonging to Erie’s Connor McDavid, was awarded moments after the Generals skated to a 6-2 victory in Game 5 of the OHL final. The 18-year-old had been named playoff MVP, but it was little consolation as McDavid’s spectacular junior career came to an end.

    “It’s upsetting obviously,” said McDavid. “There’s no other way to put it. It’ll pass. It hurts now but it’ll pass.

    “I’m so, so very proud of these guys, of our team. You don’t ever say goodbye, these are lifelong friends and I’ll never forget them.”

    Not since Sudbury defenceman Marc Staal in 2007, has a player from a losing side been voted as the playoff’s best. In this case, there was little question who would win the Wayne Gretzky ‘99’ trophy.

    In the post-season McDavid scored 21 goals and 28 assists in 20

    Read More »from Oshawa Generals eliminate Otters, McDavid to claim OHL championship
  • Connor McDavid named OHL's most outstanding player

    Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid. (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid. (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

    There was no surprise on Tuesday afternoon when the OHL announced Connor McDavid had won the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the league’s most outstanding player in the regular season.

    The only question before the hardware was handed out in Erie, Pa., would be how many votes the 18-year-old superstar would garner. In 80 ballots collected from various members of the media, McDavid received 407 points in the voting process with first place votes on over 94 per cent of all ballots.

    “It’s really hard to put into words what this award means,” said McDavid. “To be a part of this group of guys … I might be the guy standing up there but this is the definition of a team award. It makes it a lot easier when you’re playing with the league’s leading scorer (Dylan Strome) and the OHL rookie of the year (Alex DeBrincat).”

    McDavid is the clear favourite to be the first-overall pick at the June NHL entry draft in Sunrise, Fla.

    “If he’s not first overall I’m going to an ophthalmologist or an

    Read More »from Connor McDavid named OHL's most outstanding player
  • The secret to containing Connor McDavid? Oshawa may have figured it out

    Oshawa defenceman Josh Brown keeps Erie's Connor McDavid in check. Aaron Bell/OHL ImagesOshawa defenceman Josh Brown keeps Erie's Connor McDavid in check. Aaron Bell/OHL Images
    When Connor McDavid joined the Ontario Hockey League at the tender age of 15 back in 2012, you knew he was going to be special. In the years that have passed, he’s more than lived up to the hype.

    As an 18-year-old playing out the final few games of his remarkable junior career with the Erie Otters, he’s leading the OHL in playoff scoring – not surprisingly – with 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points in 17 games. He’s run roughshod over his opponents and in the league’s Western Conference final almost single-handedly defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.

    In that six-game series he scored seven goals and added seven assists, antagonizing what was thought to be a strong Soo defence and a depth-filled team that stocked up before the trade deadline to take a run at a league championship.

    “Nobody has been able to shut down the McDavid kid,” Oshawa Generals coach D.J. Smith told the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s running through our league

    Read More »from The secret to containing Connor McDavid? Oshawa may have figured it out
  • 'Minny Boy' Oliver Bjorkstrand becomes leading man in the WHL

    Oliver Bjorkstrand #27 of the Portland Winterhawks. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)Oliver Bjorkstrand #27 of the Portland Winterhawks. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

    Oliver Bjorkstrand’s home in Herning, Demark is a long way from Minnesota. Despite that fact, the Portland Winterhawks star has found himself in an elite group among his teammates. There are four players on the Western Hockey League club who call the state of Minnesota home.

    Somehow, Bjorkstrand has managed to join the group as an honourary Minny Boy.

    “We let him in the group,” said teammate Paul Bittner, who hails from the small-town of Crookston, Minn. “He’s our fifth member for sure; he calls himself a Minny Boy.”

    There are other ties to be sure. Bjorkstrand’s father, Todd, is a former pro player who left home in Minneapolis to play in the top Danish league with Herning before retiring and becoming a hockey coach.

    Bjorkstrand says his favourite team growing up was the Minnesota Wild, because he really liked watching Marian Gaborik. A childhood in Denmark, however, meant his NHL viewings were limited to what he could find on YouTube and on the league’s website.

    Now, as the WHL’s top

    Read More »from 'Minny Boy' Oliver Bjorkstrand becomes leading man in the WHL
  • Charlottetown's MacCallum helps rescue Islanders in QMJHL playoffs

    Daryl MacCallum (#35), of the Charlottetown Islanders. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Ghyslain BergeronDaryl MacCallum (#35), of the Charlottetown Islanders. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Ghyslain Bergeron

    Mason McDonald was injured on what looked like an innocuous pad save. There was no big collision, no contact and no writhing in pain when the goaltender left some five minutes into Game 3 of the Charlottetown Islanders’ QMJHL first-round playoff game against the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

    On the bench, coach Gordie Dwyer had no idea how bad the injury was though he was concerned since McDonald – one of the top young goalies in the league – was a huge part of Charlottetown’s regular-season success.

    Further down the bench, backup goalie Daryl MacCallum was quickly coming to the realization that he’d have to protect the Islanders’ fragile two-goal lead with almost a full game to go.

    MacCallum, a rookie, came into the game with a goals against average of 4.65 and a save percentage of .859 – not exactly all-star stats.

    “When I found out (McDonald) was injured, I was nervous,” said the 19-year-old, who played in 23 regular season games. “When I entered the net I had butterflies, but after the

    Read More »from Charlottetown's MacCallum helps rescue Islanders in QMJHL playoffs

Pagination

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