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.

  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • '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

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  • 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

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  • Team Canada turns to Lowry for 2016 world juniors in Helsinki

    Dave LowryDave Lowry

    When Canada tries to recreate their golden moment from world junior championships in December, they’ll have a familiar face behind the bench.

    On Monday, Dave Lowry, an assistant coach from the gold-medal winning 2015, was chosen to lead the 2016 squad in Helsinki. The 50-year-old, was in charge of the defence last year when Canada won its first gold since 2009.

    “It’s simple,” said Lowry in a conference call. “We’re going to continue to build on the momentum that we generated in 2015 and my mandate moving forward will be that we will, once again, look to take the best players and we’re going to make the players buy into playing the game a certain way and that’ll be our way.”

    Lowry, who is head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals, will be joined on the bench by assistants Dominique Ducharme, head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads, and D.J. Smith, head coach of the Oshawa Generals.

    Drummondville Voltigeurs coach Martin Raymond, Canada’s “eye-in-the-sky” at last year’s

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  • Departure of Bulls from Belleville sparks memories for alumni

    Luke Judson of the Belleville Bulls. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL ImagesLuke Judson of the Belleville Bulls. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

    It is a rivalry that started long before there was major junior hockey in either city.  The dislike – fans might use a stronger word – between the sporting cities of Kingston and Belleville has been raging for years.

    It goes back to the old senior hockey days, and the big Junior B battles that spilled over into baseball as well. 

    “There were some pretty intense games back then,” said Larry Mavety.

    No one is probably as well versed in the hockey rivalry between the two cities as Mavety, now 72, who served as general manager and head coach for both the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs and Belleville Bulls at various times during the course of his legendary hockey career. He was there for the early days of the Belleville Bulls, back in 1979, as head coach of the Tier II junior club before the team joined the OHL.

    The Bulls spent 34 years in the OHL before owner Gord Simmonds, a businessman from Uxbridge, Ont., announced he had sold the team and it was moving to Hamilton.

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  • Belleville Bulls sold, OHL team moving to Hamilton

    Belleville Bulls. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL ImagesBelleville Bulls. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

    Many fans and observers in the Ontario Hockey League knew this day was coming.

    On Thursday afternoon, Quinte News first reported that the Belleville Bulls had been sold and are moving. The news was confirmed later in the day by the OHL which confirmed the team would be playing out of Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre starting in the 2015-16 season.

    The Bulls had been a part of the OHL since 1981, and according to reports out of Belleville there was no attempt from owner Gord Simmonds to find a local buyer or any discussion with the city about a move.

     

     In the OHL's press release, commissioner David Branch welcomed Hamilton to the league, saying, "Hamilton has a long and storied history in junior hockey and we look forward to building on this tradition starting next season.”

    Hamilton has been home to a number of OHL franchise in the

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  • Jake Paterson's trade to Kitchener has put the Rangers back into the game

    Jake Paterson is reticent to take any credit for the recent success of the Kitchener Rangers. He'd rather credit the defence playing in front of him or his relatively new teammates for changing the group dynamic.

    There is, however, no humility in the facts. Prior to the Rangers acquiring the 20-year-old goaltender, the team was mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings battling with his former team - the Saginaw Spirit - for the last playoff spot. The Rangers weren't expected to be a powerhouse and they stayed true to form.

    The first game in a Rangers uniform, Paterson stopped 29 shots for his first shutout of the season, a 5-0 victory over the Belleville Bulls. Since the trade, Paterson is 9-3-1.

    "Whenever you get traded to a new team there's new scenery and personally I just wanted to get off on the right foot," said Paterson. "The first few games went well and for the most part I think most of that's because of the team, the guys have been playing well since I got

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