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.

  • Maple Leafs will preach patience with their NHL draft picks

    When it comes to the 2015 NHL entry draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs are saying all the right things concerning their fourth-overall pick. They’re preaching patience with their prospects.

    It’s a refreshing change from an organization that hasn’t much success developing high-end talent.

    “We’re going to look to be patient,” said Mark Hunter, the Leafs director of player personnel and interim co-GM. “We want to protect our asset that’s fourth overall. We want to develop them and make sure they’re getting better without stumbling around where it’s unnecessary.”

    At the recent NHL draft combine, Toronto’s brain trust was on hand to scope out the prospects for themselves and interview their potential picks. Among the players in the mix for the fourth pick include Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin, Erie Otters centre Dylan Strome and London Knights winger Mitchell Marner.

    The Leafs’ decision on who to select will, of course, be impacted greatly by the Arizona Coyotes, who pick ahead of them

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  • Top prospects pushed to the limit during 'tough' combine testing

    Connor McDavid performs a pull up test during the NHL Combine on June 6, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)Connor McDavid performs a pull up test during the NHL Combine on June 6, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — After his combine testing was over on Saturday morning, Connor McDavid once again met with the media. He couldn’t stop yawning. Whether that was from the boredom of being asked the same questions repeatedly or from running the grueling gauntlet of the fitness testing, one couldn’t say.

    Coming into the event, the 18-year-old said his main goal was to avoid embarrassment on the pull-up bar, which had caused problems for Flames pick Sam Bennett last year when he couldn't do a single one. McDavid passed that portion with flying colours, managing to finish with six pull-ups, a task not everyone could best. The hardest test for the prospects on Saturday was the Wingate bike test which measures peak anaerobic power and capacity and McDavid and Eichel were no exceptions.

    “That one’s absolutely crazy,” said McDavid, who finished with a peak power output of 17.49. “It’s tough but it’s fun and it was good to get it over with.”

    When asked what his toughest challenge was, Eichel's

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  • Sarnia forward Zacha hoping to leave Czech mark at the NHL draft

    Pavel Zacha of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.Pavel Zacha of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — Pavel Zacha has a number set in his mind when it comes to the NHL entry draft on June 26. The 18-year-old is looking to be the first top-10 pick from the Czech Republic since the Columbus Blue Jackets took Jakub Voracek seventh-overall in 2007.

    In the final NHL central scouting rankings, Zacha was listed eighth among North American skaters.

    “I hope I’ll be top-10,” said the Sarnia Sting forward at the NHL scouting combine on Saturday. “For almost like 10 years after Voracek no one from the Czech Republic was drafted in the top-10, so it would be amazing for me and for Czech hockey too.”

    At the combine Zacha said he conducted interviews with at least 24 different NHL clubs. He said the one with Philadelphia was special because he was a fan of Jaromir Jagr growing up and became a Flyers fan as a result.

    Back at home playing with Bili Tygri Liberec he was lucky enough to play with former NHL star Petr Nedved who was the captain of the team. He remembers sitting in the

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  • Face off: McDavid, Eichel ready to make a difference

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s a narrative we’ve seen countless times before: The one where two young prospects are pitted against each other leading up to the NHL draft. In 2010 it was Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin. After that it was Nathan McKinnon vs. Seth Jones and last year the fight to see who would reign as the NHL’s first-overall pick was between Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett.
    This year the media construct involves Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. And as much as you will read about these two names being inextricably linked, there is no real debate here. McDavid will go first-overall at the NHL draft on June 26 in Sunrise, Fla. The Edmonton Oilers currently hold the top pick thanks to the draft lottery.
    Eichel will go second-overall, most likely to the Buffalo Sabres who are in possession of that No. 2 slot. They are – by far- the best two players eligible for the draft, with McDavid, who has been in the centre of the spotlight since he was 15 years old, holding the edge.
    “It’s a fine
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  • Memorial Cup final: Generals get it done thanks to unsung heroes

    QUEBEC CITY — It wasn’t too long ago that Anthony Cirelli was playing AA hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He moved to AAA for his minor midget year and spent last season playing major midget.

    On Sunday night, the 17-year-old walk-on scored the game winner in overtime to hand the Oshawa Generals their first Memorial Cup title in 25 years.

    “Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now,” said Cirelli, on the ice after the Generals defeated the Western Hockey League-champion Kelowna Rockets 2-1. “I’m just really proud of the team. We worked all year round for this and this was our goal.

    “I’m in shock. We just won the Memorial Cup.”

    Cirelli scored both goals for the Ontario Hockey League champions, including the decider a mere 1:28 into the first overtime period. Kelowna goalie Jackson Whistle stopped overager Chris Carlisle’s initial shot, but the rebound came out to Cirelli who shook off a Rockets defender to whack the puck into the net. It was a remarkable finish for an

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  • McDavid's hardware haul includes CHL player of the year

    Erie Otters' Connor McDavid poses with the Top Draft Prospect, the CHL MVP and the Scholastic Player trophies. REUTERS/Mathieu BelangerErie Otters' Connor McDavid poses with the Top Draft Prospect, the CHL MVP and the Scholastic Player trophies. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

    QUEBEC CITY — At the rate Connor McDavid is winning awards, his family might need to add an addition on to their home to house all his hardware.

    On Saturday evening, McDavid picked up three more honours at the CHL awards banquet, winning the league’s player of year, scholastic player of the year, and top NHL prospect.

    In the Ontario Hockey League this season, McDavid finished third in scoring with 44 goals and 120 points in 47 games. He played 21 fewer games than Erie Otters teammate Dylan Strome who won the OHL’s scoring title with 129 points. Strome shared the CHL’s top scorer award with Conor Garland of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats.

    McDavid’s season with the Otters ended in the OHL final when they were defeated in five games by the champion Oshawa Generals. In the meantime, the 18-year-old forward has been focusing on school and on getting ready for the NHL combine which takes place in Buffalo, N.Y., next weekend.

    “I’m just back in school,” said McDavid. “I’m looking to graduate

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  • 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

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  • Guy Lafleur takes trip down Memorial Cup memory lane at Colisee

    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

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  • 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

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  •  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 "

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Pagination

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