Buzzing The Net

  • Mathew Barzal is helping the Thunderbirds get back on their feet. (

    U.S. Division road swings are tougher than normal in the Western Hockey League this season.

    For quite some time, the American Division has had two or three teams near the top of the Western Conference standings every season. The upper echelon American squads have ultimately built a strong reputation for the division. But unlike past years where one or two teams clearly lag behind, the division is rock solid this season from top to bottom.

    To put into perspective how strong the five American clubs are as a whole this year, the division is currently on pace to end the year with a 98-point average. This sits 12 points ahead of the top division average in the last five years of 86 points, which happens to be held by the American Division in 2011-12 and 2010-11.

    The Seattle Thunderbirds’ resurgence is ultimately the main reason why the division has arguably never been deeper. They have went from being the division’s whipping boy, finishing last three times and topping out at third in the

    Read More »from Resurgence of Seattle Thunderbirds adds more fuel to U.S. Division’s fire
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    Vancouver Canucks first-rounder Hunter Shinkaruk is optimistic about rejoining Medicine Hat's lineup as early as Friday. (Vancouver Sun)

    Victoria Royals defenceman Joe Hicketts opens up about the injury that has put his draft season on hold. (The Pipeline Show)

    Sticking to Victoria, charges are "likely" for the spectator who body-slammed mascot Marty the Marmot last Saturday. The YouTube-age has even been given a WWE mash-up. (Victoria Times-Colonist, QMI Agency)

    Quinnipiac University's release about Peter Quenneville bolting for the Brandon Wheat Kings notes, "Peter wants to focus only on hockey and here at Quinnipiac University our players are committed to excellence in both hockey and academics." Was that passive-aggressive? (Quinnipiac Chronicle, Luber's Lounge)

    The release of Mac Engel shows the about-to-be-road-tested Regina Pats are sold on 6-foot-6 Dawson McAuley as their No. 1 goalie. (Regina Leader-Post)


    Sherry Bassin, on the Erie Otters' challenge of being in the same division with Guelph and London: "This is the American League East of junior hockey so you can't get too fired up about a good start. Erie's like the Minnesota Twins and we've got to figure out where we fit in." (London Free Press)

    Read More »from Hunter Shinkaruk eyes return to Tigers: the coast-to-coast
  • Pilon was a No. 3 overall bantam draft pick 2 seasons ago (Canes Cast photo)One would almost hope this is tied solely to the Lethbridge Hurricanes' record. Defenceman Ryan Pilon, a 2015 NHL draft prospect whose season began auspiciously with a stint with Canada's under-18 team in the summer, has become the third player to leave the Western Hockey League cellar dweller since the beginning of the season. The Hurricanes have just two wins and seven points at the 18-game quarter-pole in the WHL and are already seven points out of next-to-last place. Former star Kris Versteeg recently made a public pitch to buy the community-owned team and transfer it to private ownership.

    Suffice to say, having a former No. 3 overall bantam draft pick who was considered a huge building block does little to refute the perception of a team that is in an utter uproar. Lethbridge GM Brad Robson previously traded two veteran forwards who had gone home to the Seattle Thunderbirds. All three were alternate captains.

    It forms the impression there's something really off here, under first-time major junior coach Drake Berehowsky and assistants Mike Craig and Brad Lukowich. As Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino put it:

    "I'm not so sure these three guys have had extensive coaching experience in the Canadian Hockey League with players in this age group. The game's changed dramatically since then ... when you look at three National Hockey League guys ... they want to do things the way the way they were taught and the way that they were coached. That may not work with (a) today's style of game, the way it's changed since those guys played and (b) how players are, especially young ones. I call it the 'entitlement era.'

    "... It looks like a situation where Pilon said, 'You know what, I saw what happened last year, I didn't like it. The coaching change has obviously had an impact. So this is how I want to go about my business.' ... This is no good for anybody. It's a situation where you have a guy who is this high level and he's a huge movable piece, defencemen are hard to come by

    "... It sucks for everybody. The only people it's going to be good for is the team who gets him." (The Pipeline Show)

    Read More »from NHL draft prospect Ryan Pilon third player to leave WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes since start of season
  • Will Petschenig (6) did not miss a game after the sudden death of his father, Dan Petschenig, last week (OHL Images)

    The bond the Oshawa Generals credit for their success has grown only tighter as they rally around defenceman Will Petschenig, who is playing through the loss of his father.

    Normally, a midweek game in the nation's capital means a day trip, up and back. Tuesday, the Eastern Conference-leading Gens stayed overnight so they could attend the funeral of their teammate's father, Daniel Petschenig, a former Toronto Argonauts offensive lineman turned businessman and youth sports volunteer. Two months after turning 50, Petschenig died Oct. 29, from complications stemming from what doctors believe was a blood clot in his lung.

    In his grief, Will Petschenig did not miss a game. The only way one might have discerned anything was out of the ordinary on Tuesday is that the he was at Canadian Tire Centre before his teammates. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Manotick, Ont., native came up early to attend his father's visitation and support his family, including his mother Laura, brother Joseph and teenage sisters Margaret and Grace.

    "He came back right away — didn't want to miss a game," Generals captain Josh Brown said prior to Oshawa's 7-1 win over Ottawa. "He told me that's what his dad would have wanted him to do. I'm really proud of him for that.

    "When someone has to go through something like that it's terrible and we want to be there for him and show our respect," added Brown, a Florida Panthers draft choice. "Just help him along the way. Just be there for him."

    Read More »from Oshawa Generals’ Will Petschenig plays on after losing father, inspiring his teammates
  • Portland look poised to compete for a fourth straight Western Conference crown (CP)

    In our first Dynamic Dozen rankings of the season published last week, a pair of U.S. Division teams were ranked 1-2. This week, all five of the American teams from the Western Hockey League are concentrated within our top 14. Add Kelowna into the mix, and you have the makings of a Western Conference that's going to be very difficult to win come playoff time, with as many as six high quality teams in legitimate contention.

    Still (I hate to use the qualifier "it's early" so much, but...) it's early. The Winterhawks knocked off Spokane 3-1 on Saturday to cement their spot on top this week, and that's where we'll begin. An explanation for the rankings can be found below.

    1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.640 RPI, +2.4 SRS, +1) — Portland have won 11 in a row, making their record more "Portland-like" after starting just 3-3-1. Though Spokane boast the WHL's leading scorer, Portland have No. 1 and No. 2 in the league, Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand, in the "non-overage" category. Both were taken in the most recent NHL Draft in their first year of eligibility, and it's become a little ridiculous how well this team can replace elite talent when it leaves to the NHL.

    Not only do the Winterhawks have a five-point cushion on every other WHL team, but they've also played the strongest schedule out of every team in the nation. They'll face unranked Tri-City, Victoria and Regina this week.

    2. Guelph Storm, OHL (.597 RPI, +2.5 SRS, +1) — Not to be outdone, the Guelph Storm can win a franchise-best 11th straight game Thursday in London, which isn't as daunting of a task this year as it was in previous years (although the Knights did recently end the Erie Otters' extended win streak). Can any team actually shut down their speed? The Storm have already scored 95 goals on the season, the most in the Ontario Hockey League by 17, and coach Scott Walker seemed to indicate after Sunday's 3-1 comeback win over Sudbury that they're a group that can score at will. So far, they have, but sustainability is key.

    Read More »from Portland takes control of crowded U.S. Division and BTN’s Dynamic Dozen
  • Peter Quenneville played in the USHL before his stopover in the NCAABrandon Wheat Kings sophomore forward John Quenneville will have some brotherly help in his bid to raise his NHL draft stock, as his older brother has decided being a freshman with a Frozen Four contender is not for him.

    On Tuesday, 19-year-old Peter Quenneville, whom the Columbus Blue Jackets nabbed late in the NHL draft in June, left the No. 5-ranked Quinnipiac Bobcats to join Brandon. The Wheat Kings sent a 2015 third-round bantam draft pick to the Prince George Cougars to gain a forward who scored 70 points in 63 games for the United States league champion Dubuque Fighting Saints last season.

    It reads like a case of worrying about withering on the vine in Division I. The belief that teenagers develop best by playing more games often doesn't stand up to scrutiny, but it does hold sway with players. Quenneville, due in part to an lower-body injury, had dressed for only five of Quinnipiac's nine games. Brandon's already played 17.

    Read More »from Columbus Blue Jackets pick Peter Quenneville joins brother with Brandon Wheat Kings
  • Dallas Stars first-rounder Radek Faksa (left) is in his final OHL season with struggling Kitchener (OHL Images)

    When overages bolt, it's major junior hockey's answer to the canary in the coal mine.

    The Kitchener Rangers are not allowed to have down years, yet the flagship franchise seems bent on one during a season when the Memorial Cup is being staged in nearby London, which has created a "restless" franchise. If these trends continue, it will create some drama during the build up to the trade deadline. The biggest asset the Rangers could move is 19-year-Czech centre Radek Faksa and it just so happens that both Memorial Cup-host London and Eastern Conference-leading Oshawa Generals have an open import slot, just saying.

    Here's a look at who's up and who's down heading into the week.

    Read More »from Kitchener Rangers’ offensive outage powers rumour mill: CHL Hot & Cold
  • Rimouski sent overager Scott Oke packing in exchange for two players. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP Images)Rimouski sent overager Scott Oke packing in exchange for two players. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP Images)

    The Rimouski Océanic shored up their depth in a trade with Acadie-Bathurst Monday, while the Titan swapped overagers and netted a prospect to boot.

    Acadie-Bathurst sent well-traveled veteran Dominic Beauchemin and Euro Patrick Zdrahal to Rimouski, in exchange for fellow-traveled veteran Scott Oke, prospect Charles-Anthony Poulin and a fourth round pick in 2014.

    The trade was the story of two teams going in opposite directions. The Oceanic sit seventh in the league and need to keep pace with division-leading Baie-Comeau. The Titan sit 17th, tied with Saint John for the final playoff spot, and went for it last season, looking to rebuild and retool.

    Both teams accomplished that with the deal on Monday, which filled Rimouski’s second European spot and swapped 20-year-olds.

    Read More »from Rimouski Oceanic deal away Memorial Cup experience to add Patrik Zdrahal’s scoring touch
  • Eric Veilleux guided Baie-Comeau to the Quebec League final last season (The Canadian Press)

    Éric Veilleux is known as a coach who expects a lot, which apparently extends to when he sets the bar for the best coach conniption fit in Canadian junior hockey on the season.

    One can only imagine how many of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar players' $300 twigs would have hit the ice if the team wasn't on a point streak that has since reached 10 games. During the second period of a game on Friday, Veilleux didn't like the explanation for a call that he received from referee Dominick Bédard. As the arbiter skated away, Veilleux merely tried to regain his attention by snatching away six players' sticks and heaving them on to the ice.

    The best part is that the first player whose stick was heaved, San Jose Sharks second-round choice Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, seemed taken aback. But then the rest of the Drakkar players were like, "this is happening" and obeyed their coach. The fifth and sixth players even seem to be trying to disguise a smile as they hand over their lumber.

    Read More »from Baie-Comeau Drakkar’s Eric Veilleux throws six sticks on ice, takes lead for CHL’s coach meltdown of the year
  • Dwyer's Islanders have now lost six in a row after a 10-2-0-2 start. ('s Islanders have now lost six in a row after a 10-2-0-2 start. ( what you will about Charlottetown Islanders head coach Gordie Dwyer, a former NHLer who once got a 23-game suspension for leaving the penalty box in an exhibition game. He certainly was an honest player.

    And he definitely was honest Sunday after a 6-2 loss to the Moncton Wildcats, which saw his Islanders have a goal called back for goaltender interference and take seven penalties. The Wildcats scored on five of them.

    “We tell our guys to go to the net hard,” Dwyer said. “We like to battle for pucks. I didn't get the memo from the league that you can't go to the net hard and dig for loose pucks before the whistle is blown. I'll keep telling my guys to go to the net hard and dig for loose pucks and try to score some garbage goals.

    “We necessarily, potentially, don't have the talent of some of these top teams in the league to tic-tac-toe, so I'll tell my guys to go to the net hard and dig for loose pucks when they're around them, and the referees, they got to get their whistles out of their pockets a little quicker."

    Dwyer was visibly animated after the goal was disallowed, which also gave forward Craig MacLauchlin a penalty for goaltender interference. The Wildcats scored just eight seconds later off a centering pass that hit defenceman Troy Vance's skate and went between Islanders netminder Eric Brassard's legs.

    Read More »from Charlottetown Islanders’ Gordie Dwyer goes off on ref rant to rally slumping team
  • Marty the Marmot spent more than 400 hours at charitable events during the last hockey season (Facebook)

    At first, it might have seemed like part of an act. But the rage was real and hockey fans on Vancouver Island are not laughing after beloved mascot Marty the Marmot was attacked by a so-called fan on Saturday.

    The man, who could face assault charges, went berserk after Marty pulled an inflatable chair away during a second-intermission game of musical chairs. The man reacted by picking up the mascot and body-slamming him to the hard ice before briefly dragging him by the feet of his costume. (There is a sentence I never anticipated typing.) Police are taking it seriously and fans want to see charges filed.

    Marty isn't expected to miss any games, sparing us a unique WHL injury report ("M Marty the Marmot, upper body, day to day").

    Victoria's CHEK News even editorializes, "Charges should be laid."

    Read More »from Marty the Marmot, Canada’s mascot of the year, attacked during WHL game (VIDEO)
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    Derek Zona's composite of rankings for the 2014 draft finds that Sam Reinhart is the consensus No. 1 pick. (The Copper And Blue)

    The Regina Pats' beacon, Sam Steel, led Alberta's under-16 team to Western Canada bragging rights over the weekend. Meantime, overage D-man Jesse Zgraggen has landed in the Queen City after Calgary got Alex Roach back from the ECHL. (Regina Leader-Post)

    Who says you can't have an 18-year-old captain? Washington Capitals second-rounder Madison Bowey had a big game after getting the honour from Kelowna. (Prince George Citizen)

    Defenceman Josh Thrower, brother of Montreal Canadiens second-rounder and Vancouver Giants captain Dalton Thrower, is giving scouts even more reason to closely watch the Calgary Hitmen. (The Pipeline Show)

    Spokane Chiefs defender Jason Fram's parents grew up in England and Singapore, so the hockey parent role was new to them. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)


    The Windsor Spitfires brass spent Sunday scouting the London Knights, who ended Erie's 11-game win streak. But don't think for a second the two will make a trade to help London load up for the Memorial Cup. (London Free Press)

    The Guelph Storm failed to score five goals in a home win, scotching plans to investigate whether the 'free wings for a five-goal game' promotion includes a vegan alternative. Oh, make it an 18-game point streak for Carolina Hurricanes second-rounder Brock McGinn. (Guelph Mercury)

    What's up with the Kitchener Rangers struggling? (Waterloo Record, The Pipeline Show)

    Read More »from Reinhart consensus No. 1, London ends Erie’s run, Oceanic add offensive punch: the coast-to-coast
  • Laughton has scored at a goal per game pace since returning to the OHL (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    The NHL front-office folks who want the option to have a 19-year-old drafted out of the Canadian junior leagues play in the AHL might seize the footage of Scott Laughton's latest goal for evidence.

    While there is always something that a player can learn during his fourth year in the Ontario Hockey League, Laughton has pretty much done whatever he wanted offensively since the Philadelphia Flyers returned him to the Oshawa Generals. Take Sunday, when he pulled a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't, toe-drag move to beat a 6-foot-3 defenceman, Peterborough's Connor Boland, then completed the spectacular goal with a backhand move on goalie Andrew D'Agostini. That was part of a five-point effort in a 5-3 win for the Gens, who lead the OHL's Eastern Conference.

    At least someone associated with the Flyers is scoring. Laughton's had 14 goals and 25 points in 13 games in the 'Shwa. The Flyers have scored 21 goals all seaon.

    Read More »from Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton scores ridiculous goal in OHL (VIDEO)
  • Oshawa captain Scott Laughton had five points in the Generals' 5-3 win over the Petes Sunday. (CP Images / Kenneth Armstrong)Oshawa captain Scott Laughton had five points in the Generals' 5-3 win over the Petes Sunday. (CP Images / Kenneth Armstrong)No. 1 star: Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

    The Generals won their fourth in a row with a big effort from their interim captain. Laughton, wearing the C while Josh Brown served a suspension, showed the Generals the way on Sunday, bagging two goals and three assists in Oshawa’s 5-3 win over the Peterborough Petes.

    Laughton drew first blood for Oshawa, with help from Michael Dal Colle and Daniel Robertson. He then assisted on Chris Carlisle’s goal to end the frame up 2-0.

    The Petes stormed back and tied the game, but Laughton assisted on Dal Colle’s winner with just over three to go in the third, and then sealed the deal with an empty netter in the final minute to ice the five-point night.

    It was winning streak versus losing streak, and the streaks continued with the Oshawa win and Petes loss. The Petes fell to 7-9-0-1, dropping their fourth in a row. The win puts the Generals into a tie for second place overall in the OHL with 27 points. They improve to 13-3-0-1 on the year.

    Daniel Altshauser got the win in net, stopping 37 shots, while Andrew D’Agostini took the loss, making 16 saves.

    Read More »from Oshawa Generals’ Scott Laughton has his hand in every goal in rivalry game win: Sunday’s 3 stars
  • Nathan Pancel led the Wolves over the Sting with five points (OHL images)No. 1 star: Nathan Pancel, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

    Pancel started and ended the game in the Wolves’ 6-3 win over the Sarnia Sting. Just 1:44 into the opening period, the 6-foot, 190-pound winger sniped one past Taylor Dupuis. With the game tied at one, he scored early in the middle frame before adding two assists in the period. He later ended the game’s scoring with his third of the night at the 13:25 mark in the final frame.

    Pancel’s centre, Mathew Campagna, also had a five-point night. He racked up two goals and three helpers. But unfortunately for Campagna, a hat trick is flashier than three assists, so Pancel was given the edge.

    No. 2 star: Oliver Cooper, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

    Cooper was involved in all of the Sea Dogs’ four markers in their 4-2 victory over the Charlottetown Islanders that ended a nine-game winless streak. Down 1-0, the 6-foot-3, 203-pound winger scored an unassisted goal just over the halfway point in the middle frame. Following assisting a Mathew Highmore

    Read More »from Nathan Pancel notches 5-point night to lift Wolves over Sting: Saturday’s 3 stars
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    Portland has won 10 in a row, but a more pertinent concern is that Adam De Champlain was injured by an illegal check Friday by Seattle's Evan Wardley, who was tossed for charging. (The Oregonian, Taking Note)

    What's that now for Swift Current's freshman Finn, offensive defenceman Julius Honka? Nineteen points in 18 games. Also, does it not figure the Saskatoon Blades would lose their milestone 1,000th game at the Credit Union Centre? (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Hey, the current Prince Albert Raiders put on a show for Mike Modano Night by routing the Regina Pats. (Regina Leader-Post)

    Chicago Blackhawks-drafted D-man Travis Brown has been a stabilizing presence for Moose Jaw, which sure can use one these days. (Moose Jaw Times-Herald)


    If Thursday belonged to the ghosts, well, Max Domi and London used Friday to show they're among the living as they dispatched Sudbury. (London Free Press)

    Will Carolina Hurricanes second-rounder Brock McGinn and Winnipeg Jets selection Scott Kosmachuk rate consideration for Team Canada in six weeks' time? Or is it just crazy to take two of the OHL's most productive players?
    (Guelph Mercury)

    Read More »from Mooseheads score 15, Knights come alive: the coast-to-coast
  • Jonathan Drouin is reigning CHL player of the year with Halifax (The Canadian Press)

    The days of the Halifax Mooseheads scoring four goals in the first period and then slowly pulling away are past, which is fine by Jonathan Drouin.

    Saying that last season was play and this season is work for the Tampa Bay Lightning's No. 3 overall draft choice is a bit of an all-or-nothing statement. Yet it sums up how circumstances are evolving now that Drouin is the 18-year-old offensive leader for Mooseheads team that is still associated with winning the Memorial Cup last May, but only retains some elements of from that championship season. Staying up with the Lightning next season will entail proving that he's not a defensive or physical liability.

    "Obviously, we're not going to win games 7-2 or by scores like that," Drouin said earlier this week as the Mooseheads embarked on a three-game swing through western Quebec. "We have to be more focused on the little things defensively and win those 4-2 games.

    "It's good for me," adds Drouin, who has three goals and 16 points in 10 Quebec League games since his return from the Lightning. "That's what they want me to work on, the all-around game. We're a little more defensive than we were and that's going to help me."

    Read More »from Jonathan Drouin gets with Halifax Mooseheads’ program of being a more defensive-minded team
  • Nikolaj Ehlers has improved his NHL draft stock with a fast start for Halifax (Mike Carroccetto for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Last fall's NHL lockout did Nikolaj Ehlers a big favour.

    The nimble newcomer for the Halifax Mooseheads counted Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin as teammates while playing for Biel in the Swiss A league. Seeing the example set by the two established big leaguers prodded Ehlers to pursue his NHL ambitions in North America.

    "They were really nice, they were good people, they were unbelievable good hockey players," says Ehlers, a native of Aalborg, Denmark, who spent six years of his adolescence in Switzerland after his father Heinz Ehlers' coaching career required a move. "It helped me a lot to improve by seeing them and learning from them. They were helpful to me. They kind of said to me, too, that I had to come over. It was definitely my decision, but they were a part of it."

    The Mooseheads, of late, have been getting more queries from NHL scouts about Ehlers. The Dane's eight goals and 23 points in 20 games lead Quebec League rookies. (His shooting percentage is 10.4 per cent, suggesting he's on a very sustainable course.) It's early yet, but Ehlers has shown a refined skill set, not surprising for someone who played in a men's league at age 16.

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Nikolaj Ehlers, Halifax Mooseheads
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...


    The Saskatoon Blades drafted Russian rookie Nikita Scherbak "sight unseen." True story! (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Nice matchup between standout overages on tap for Friday, with Vancouver's Dalton Thrower trying to negate Spokane's Mitch Holmberg. (Vancouver Province)

    Forward Parker Bowles is back for Tri-City after missing the first quarter of the season with a shoulder injury. (Tri-City Herald)

    Veteran forward Sam Fioretti is the captain of the Moose Jaw Warriors. (Moose Jaw Times-Herald)


    Ryan Pyette pinpoints a head-shaking stat: how does a team as deep as the London Knights have 14 more penalty kills than power-play opportunities? Incidentally, former Knight Kevin Raine is good to go for Friday's Sudbury-London contest. (London Free Press)

    Overage wing Cameron Brace will have a new sweater when he finishes serving his eight-game suspension after being sent to Belleville from Owen Sound for two second-round picks. (Belleville Intelligencer)

    Read More »from Raine in forecast in London: the coast-to-coast
  • Reway was Montreal's fourth-rounder in the 2013 draft (The Canadian Press)After wearing No. 44 last season as a Gatineau Olympiques rookie, Martin Reway switched his digits to 98 — one away from Gretzky and two away from perfect.

    It was a bold and brash broadside from the Montreal Canadiens fourth-round draft pick, who has been backing it up with some entertaining high-speed derring-do for the contending 'Piques.

    Reway's latest gem came on Wednesday, when he was far and away the best player on the ice in a win over Tampa Bay Lightning lottery pick Jonathan Drouin and the Halifax Mooseheads. The signature moment came on the game's first goal. The 18-year-old Reway, who played for the Czech Republic in last season's world junior championship, intercepted a point pass to get a breakaway. At the other end, he made a spinning no-look pass that teammate Taylor Burke popped in for a sweet short-handed goal.

    [Martin shuts out Bulls, Reway helps lead shorthanded Olympiques – Wednesday’s 3 Stars]

    Read More »from Montreal Canadiens pick Martin Reway adds spin move around Jonathan Drouin to his highlight reel