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  • Colorado Avalanche bench boss Patrick Roy blasted his former Remparts goaltender Louis Domingue in comments in a scrum this week. (Larry MacDougal / CP)Colorado Avalanche bench boss Patrick Roy blasted his former Remparts goaltender Louis Domingue in comments in a scrum this week. (Larry MacDougal / CP)

    Patrick Roy has had, by all accounts, an outstanding debut season with the Colorado Avalanche. He became the fifth rookie coach in NHL history to win 50 games in a season, and the Avs matched their franchise records in wins (52) and points (112).

    He also has the uncanny ability to provide the media a great story just by opening his mouth, and he can’t leave the QMJHL behind. Patrick coached, ran and owned the Remparts for eight seasons from 2005 to last year.

    Wednesday, in a scrum a day before his Colorado Avalanche were about to open their first round matchup against the Minnesota Wild, Roy was asked about what the Halifax Mooseheads were able to do to defeat Roy’s Remparts in 2012 after falling to Quebec 3-0 in games.

    Roy simply said, “Bad goaltending!”

    The Remparts took the first three games of the second round series against the Halifax Mooseheads in 2012, before they dropped the next four games 2-1, 3-2, 5-2, and 5-4 in overtime in Game 7 to lose the series. Cam Critchlow scored four goals in game seven to eliminate the Remparts.

    That prompted a response on twitter from Louis Domingue, Roy's netminder in that 2012 series.

    Read More »from Patrick Roy called out by ex-Quebec Remparts goalie: ‘I didn’t get any of the help I needed’
  • Madison Bowey is key to the Kelowna defence (Marissa Baecker:Getty)

    —BY CAM CHARRON AND SCOTT SEPICH

    Back in February, it was theorized that the NFC title game between West Coast rivals Seattle and San Francisco was the real Super Bowl, that it was the game played by the two top teams in the league. By that point in the season, was there any doubt that the Kelowna Rockets and the Portland Winterhawks were the top two teams in the Western Hockey League, if not all of major junior?

    This has been a matchup circled on calendars for months. Kelowna were tops in the BMO CHL Top 10 Rankings at the conclusion of the season, with Portland placing third. The Winterhawks led major junior hockey in RPI to top Buzzing the Net's Dynamic Dozen, with the Rockets placing second.

    The 4-0 mark in the season series by Kelowna is somewhat deceiving — Portland couldn't buy a save in their first two meetings with one another, and iced something well short of a full roster when Kelowna visited the Rose City back during world junior season.

    Still, our mathematical odds are surprisingly slanted in favour of Portland. Who really knows what to expect out of this matchup? When the teams first played each other in late November, the Rockets were short overage Marek Tvrdon and the Winterhawks had yet to make a move for Mat Dumba. Since those additions, both teams have cleared through the rest of the Western Conference like a warm knife through lactose-free butter. The series prediction may have come down to a coin flip. — Charron

    Read More »from Portland-Kelowna series too close to call: WHL Western Conference final preview
  • Reinhart's Oil Kings are up against the Tigers. (Getty Images)

    (1) Edmonton Oil Kings vs. (4) Medicine Hat Tigers

    Season series: Oil Kings 5-0-1-0. Odds favour: Oil Kings 72 per cent. Most mathematically likely outcome: Oil Kings in 5. Prediction: Oil Kings in 6.

    Edmonton only suffered one loss throughout the first two rounds while the Tigers found a way to come out on top of two close series.

    Even though GM Randy Hansch didn’t add to his group at the trade deadline, the Oil Kings ultimately came into the second season as the favourite to represent the Eastern Conference in the final. They have both top-notch talent and depth at every position as well as a core that knows what it takes to win it all.

    In the Oil Kings’ first two playoff rounds, they had no problem controlling the play against the Prince Albert Raiders and Brandon Wheat Kings. They outscored the two clubs 38-17 and had six players (Mitchell Moroz, Curtis Lazar, Brett Pollock, Edgars Kulda, Cody Corbett and Henrik Samuelsson) score at a point-per-game pace or better. One should take into account they squared off against their conference’s seventh and eighth-seeded clubs, though. So it’s not as if their dominance caught anyone off guard because it followed up on how they stood against those respective teams in the regular-season.

    The Tigers have to some degree exceeded expectations. For a team that lost their cornerstone stone player – Vancouver Canucks first-rounder Hunter Shinkaruk – to a season-ending hip injury in January, they weren’t expected to win two playoff rounds. Not to mention, they defied the odds again by coming back from a 3-1 deficit to knock off the Kootenay Ice in the second round.

    Against the Swift Current Broncos and the Ice, the Tigers showed dynamite does indeed come in small packages. Team captain Curtis Valk, Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford, who average out at just under 5-foot-9, combined for 21 goals and 56 points throughout 13 contests. Their opponents couldn't contain them because of their speed, hunger for the puck and elusiveness.

    In addition, the Tigers proved they have a lot more going for them than just their top offensive trio. Blueliners Dylan Bredo, Tyler Lewington and St. Louis Blues second-rounder Tommy Vannelli stood out for their strong play on the back end while Phoenix Coyotes prospect Marek Langhamer was exceptional in the blue paint.

    Edmonton hosts Games 1-2 on Friday and Sunday. Here are some questions to ponder about the series.

    Read More »from Edmonton Oil Kings with the edge over Medicine Hat Tigers: WHL Eastern Conference final preview
  • Williams recovered from a summer layoff to have a solid season for Erie (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)With an arsenal of attackers that goes far beyond phenom Connor McDavid, the Erie Otters seldom have to resort to rope-a-dope tactics.

    Conversely, Otters goalie Devin Williams has found succor from both his faith and his admiration of The Greatest. The 18-year-old who has shepherded Erie to the OHL Western Conference final vs. the Guelph Storm wears a mask adorned with a cross and a depiction of Muhummad Ali.

    "My dad [Clarence Williams] is assistant pastor at our church so I have the cross to symbolize my love for Christ," says Williams, a lithe 5-foot-11¾ 'tender who earned the nod as Erie's No. 1 over Oscar Dansk, a Columbus Blue Jackets high second-round pick who started the world junior gold-medal game for Sweden in January. "I got Muhummad Ali after watching his videos. My dad, being a big boxer when he was young, he showed me a lot of Ali videos. I like to see the cockiness and the arrogance from Muhummad Ali.

    "He was a huge competitor. I like his quickness too. So I try to symbolize that with my quickness on the ice."

    The Saginaw, Mich., native is second in the OHL with a 1.88 average and .934 save percentage across nine playoff appearances (including eight starts). Williams' season started inauspiciously after July groin surgery truncated his summer training — "you'd think that would put a damper on your development but when I got here the coaches worked with me," he says" — but he steadily improved while sharing the net with Dansk.

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Devin Williams, Erie Otters
  • Williamson guided Calgary to a WHL title in 2010 (Aaron Bell, CHL Images)

    In January, the Calgary Hitmen parted with their first-round pick for what could be as little as a half-season's work from New York Rangers prospect Adam Tambellini and proceeded to lose in the first round of the playoffs. In a results-based business, that is not going to pass muster, which means the law of diminishing returns has kicked in with five-year coach Mike Williamson.

    Such are the breaks of the game, even for the Western Hockey League franchise's winningest coach.

    [CHL Chatravaganza: 12 noon ET/9 a.m. PT]

    From Scott Fisher:

    Hitmen GM Mike Moore said the high-powered squad just didn’t live up to expectations.

    “We had a good regular season,” Moore said. “But there were holes where we didn’t play the way we needed to and that carried over into the playoffs.

    “Mike’s a good coach. But we felt in order to get to the next level, we needed to make a move.”

    Read More »from Mike Williamson canned by Calgary Hitmen, creating third WHL coaching vacancy
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ... come for the Chatravaganza at 12 noon ET/9 a.m. PT!

    WHL

    As one of the two coaches whose higher-seeded team didn't get by Round 1, Mike Williamson is out the door in Calgary. (Calgary Herald, Taking Note)

    Trevor Cox for mayor of Medicine Hat, unless linemate Cole Sanford also files and splits the voting base. (Medicine Hat News)

    So with Kootenay eliminated, will the next jersey Sam Reinhart wears be from the Buffalo Sabres? (Buffalo News, Sportsnet)

    Talking about Portland's power play vs. Kelowna's penalty kill is a more exhaustive topic than, "Religion: what is the one true faith?" (CastanetKelowna Daily CourierPortland Tribune)

    How did Winterhawks goalie Brendan Burke come back stronger from a late-season illness? (His predecessor in Portland, Mac Carruth, is soaking up some Stanley Cup playoffs atmosphere with the Chicago Blackhawks.) (The Oregonian)

    Saskatoon Blades minority owner Colin Priestner is doing a lot of the pre-bantam draft scouting since the team has no GM in place. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    OHL

    Kingston Frontenacs centre Sam Bennett will miss the world under-18 due to a groin injury; meantime, how would he look as a potential future linemate for Sean Monahan with the Calgary Flames? (Flames Nation)

    That's a jump up from coaching in Bathurst: former Titan coach Danny Dupont, who was on staff when Shawinigan had a month off before the 2012 Memorial Cup, is consulting for the London Knights now that they are in similar straits. (Le Nouvelliste)

    The respective cases for Erie and Guelph to prevail in the Western final. Can't we just bet that all the players will have a good time? (Erie Times-News, Guelph Mercury)

    Read More »from Hitmen sack Mike Williamson: the coast-to-coast
  • Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin leads all QMJHL playoff scorers with 27 points in just nine games. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin leads all QMJHL playoff scorers with 27 points in just nine games. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)

    The 2014 QMJHL playoffs are down to the final four teams, and everyone is wondering one thing:

    Where are all the upsets?

    Usually playoffs in any junior league feature some fun upsets or storylines to keep the party going. So far, only two underdog teams, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies over the Quebec Remparts in round 1 (10 over 7) and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada over the Rimouski Océanic in round 2 (5 over 4 with a overtime Game 7, shocker), have proven victorious over higher-seeded opponents.

    Really, Game 7 of the Océanic-Armada series is the first game of real drama that any of the victors have faced, and that was an 8-7 see-saw overtime game that had the makings of a classic no matter which teams faced off.

    That leaves us with 1-vs-5, and 2-vs-3. The best of the QMJHL are left. Let the games begin, burning questions-style!

    Read More »from Mantha vs. Drouin main storyline of final four: QMJHL semifinal preview
  • Guelph Storm star Robby Fabbri (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    (3) Erie Otters vs. (1) Guelph Storm

    Season series: Storm 4-1-1-0. Odds favour: Storm 54%. Most mathematically likely outcome: Storm in 7. Prediction: Storm in 7.

    The Guelph Storm revolve around a cohort of homegrown cogs, while the Erie Otters, as everyone seems to say, were built to win this spring.

    Beyond that, there very little to pick between the 108-point Storm and 106-point Otters in what seems like a better matchup than many Ontario Hockey League championship series of recent vintage. Erie has next season's surefire NHL first overall pick in Connor McDavid, but Guelph has a playmaking prodigy of its own with Robby Fabbri. The Storm go six deep across the blueline but Erie had the cleanest goals-against record. Each team did some early Christmas shopping for a big-bodied NHL first-rounder who's previously missed out on the OHL final — Vancouver Canucks pick Brendan Gaunce in the Erie tricolor and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Kerby Rychel in Guelph crimson. Each boasts a late-blooming overage who landed a NHL deal this season — Canucks pickup Dane Fox, Minnesota Wild signing Zack Mitchell.

    All but five Storm regulars have never played for another OHL team. Could that be a tipping point?

    "Junior hockey is so much different from the National League," Storm coach Scott Walker says. "You can't expect one person to be a leader. There's just too much going on in the junior ranks to put it all on one guy. Matt would be the first to acknowledge we have no less than nine guys who are leaders. If one guy's falling offside another pulls him back. You only win if you demand it out of your teammates. The best thing is the respect they're showing each other. It's something that you don't see all the time."

    Erie is 8-1 in the playoffs, has four world junior players (although Team Sweden goalie Oscar Dansk is now the backup behind Devin Williams). It scored 310 goals in the regular season. It might still be sneaking up on people after being out of the playoffs for the previous two seasons.

    "I don't think any of our players are satisfied with what they've done so far," Otters coach Kris Knoblauch says. "They're proud but to say losing in the Western Conference finals is a successful season, that would upset some players."

    Guelph hosts Games 1-2 back-to-back on Thursday and Friday, before a QMJHL-style two-day break before the series shifts to Erie. Here's some questions to ponder.

    Read More »from Guelph Storm slight favourite over Erie Otters: OHL Western Conference final preview
  • Stolarz missed 6 weeks of the OHL season due to a severe skate cut (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    To the Ontario Hockey League, it's a procedural deal but to many others, it's going to come across like Anthony Stolarz is getting off lightly. The league believes it followed the rule of precedent.

    Any suspension the OHL applied during league playoffs can be removed before the Memorial Cup tournament, and often is. The end result of doing so with Stolarz is that the London Knights goalie will only end up missing 40 per cent as many games for his stick swing at Windsor's Josh Ho-Sang as Ho-Sang will miss for incidental contact that went horribly, horribly wrong.

    From Ryan Pyette (@@RyanatLFPress):

    last three games of the OHL final for spearing after racking up 35 missed regular-season games due to suspension.

    In 2000, Barrie's Ryan O'Keefe was handed an indefinite ban that lasted more than 20 games for a faceoff slewfoot of North Bay's Derrell Upton, who broke his ankle on the play.

    Those two players were granted permission to take part in the Memorial Cup that season. Their situations are a big reason why London goalie Anthony Stolarz had the final two games shaved off his eight-game penalty for a one-handed hack to the back of Windsor centre Josh Ho-Sang's head.

    “We rely on what happened in the past and the fact there was no injury on the play, fortunately,” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said. “We've addressed similar situations in the past. It was out of our control how many games London would play but we made it clear right from the start his participation in the Memorial Cup would be reviewed once the Knights' season was over.

    “It's not like something we're making up as we go along here. It was something communicated within the original suspension release.” (London Free Press)

    It is no shock, but there is an obvious difference that bears highlighting.

    Read More »from London Knights’ Anthony Stolarz has stick-swinging suspension lifted for Memorial Cup
  • D.J. Smith (left) with assistant coach Paul McFarland (OHL Images)

    For D.J. Smith, it's more fulfilling to be named OHL coach of the year with a team that feels more like his own.

    The Oshawa Generals skipper, who was named the Matt Leyden Trophy honouree Wednesday after edging Erie's Kris Knoblauch 48-47 in voting among general managers, was a finalist as a rookie. Had he won then, one would have made the case that the former pro defenceman reaped the benefit of falling heir to a collection talent. Few would say that of the current Generals, who went from contemplating a rebuild to getting Scott Laughton back from the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers and soaring to the top of the Eastern Conference. Oshawa is also 8-0 so far in the playoffs ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern final against North Bay on Friday.

    "I would say this year's team, it's our team," said Smith, who cut his coaching teeth on the staff of the Windsor Spitfires' back-to-back Memorial Cup-winning teams in 2009 and '10. "Our coaching staff and Jeff Twohey as general manager, every player here is someone we've made a conscious decision to have here. It's a great group of kids. It's great to get a honour like this with a team like this. It doesn't come around very often that you have a group of kids with very little issues.

    "We weren't sure what direction we were going in, but with the return of Scott Laughton it gave our guys a lot of confidence," the 36-year-old Smith added. "It's a great honour, but it takes special players and special people to help a team win. I'm the one being honoured, but my coaching staff, ownership, Jeff as general manager and [Oshawa owner] Rocco Tullio deserve it too."

    Read More »from Oshawa Generals’ D.J. Smith wins OHL coach of the year: ‘I hope they know I have their backs’

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