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  • Rychel has scored 20 per cent of the Spitfires' goals (Getty Images)

    With the Windsor Spitfires up against it in the playoff chase, their championship years might seem as much like a burden as a bar to clear. Keep in mind, though, those years were critical for in the growth of Kerby Rychel, who is a good bet to be the franchise's first NHL first-round pick since Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler in 2010.

    Rychel, as the eldest son of Spitfires general manager and vice-president Warren Rychel, often skated with Windsor players in those years while he was playing minor hockey for the Detroit Belle Tire club. What the younger Rychel absorbed was invaluable.

    "It was huge, being around all those great players — Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Zack Kassian," says the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Rychel, an all-around left wing who is NHL Central Scouting's 18th-ranked North American skater. "Just seeing how they prepared for games and how they practised was something you can definitely take and apply to your own game."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Kerby Rychel, Windsor Spitfires
  • The schedule-makers in the Ontario and Quebec leagues might live to regret having one game apiece on Thursday, which is normally a busy night in junior hockey. It neatly sidestepped going head-to-head with Valentine's Day, but it also meant many teams were off or had an extra day to prepare for their upcoming games.

    And you know what that means: more time to plan and perform a major junior hockey spin on the faddish fun that is the Harlem Shake. The QMJHL's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and OHL's Kitchener Rangers contributed the first two known instances. Since a lot of fellows on the Rangers and Sudbury Wolves know each other because the teams made a six-player trade in January, one suspects there might have been some daring back and forth.

    With all due respect to the other two teams, the Wolves might have moved into the lead. For starters, they did their Harlem Shake on the ice. Ante upped.

    Read More »from Sudbury Wolves take ‘Harlem Shake’ to the ice, adding degree of difficulty (VIDEO)
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Call it one small step toward Prince Albert, Sask., building a new arena to house the Raiders. (Prince Albert Daily Herald, rodpedersen.com)

    While top bantam draft prospect Kale Clague broke Dion Phaneuf's defenceman scoring record in the Alberta bantam league, he fancies himself a ditto of Drew Doughty. (The Hockey News)

    Pittsburgh Penguins first-rounder Derrick Pouliot is "a couple of weeks" away from rejoining the league-leading Portland Winterhawks. (Portland Tribune)

    Why are some blue-chip prospects looking so ashen this A.M.? It's the thought of being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. (NHL.com)

    Sorry for being late to this, but did Minnesota high school powerhouse Benilde-St. Margaret's kick 15-year-old forward Alec Baer off their team because he visited the Vancouver Giants? (Vancouver Province, Western College Hockey Blog)

    Buffalo Sabres pick Logan Nelson, who missed 22 games with a lower-body injury, is rejoining the Victoria Royals right on time for their big Alberta road trip. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Ashton Sautner has been a glue guy among the Edmonton Oil Kings' defence corps. (Regina Leader-Post)

    OHL

    With linemate Seth Griffith sidelined, Max Domi will have shoulder a large offensive load for the London Knights. Now, is GM Mark Hunter going to add another set of eyes behind the Knights' bench? (London Free Press)

    Coach Jody Hull and GM Mike Oke, who have navigated the Peterborough Petes from 16 points back of the playoff pack to two points out, each have two-year contract extensions. (Peterborough Examiner)

    Read More »from Knights need Max Domi-nation from young star: Friday’s coast-to-coast
  • Nick Cousins' 88 points leads the OHL (Getty Images)

    Anyone who follows the Ontario Hockey League closely knows what league scoring leader Nick Cousins was involved in.

    The fact that a 19-year-old male who has a court date later this month on a sexual assault charge is also first in OHL scoring while leading the resurgent Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is not lost on anyone in OHL circles. Not talking about just happens to be the coping mechanism when the fantasyland of sports collides with uncomfortable subjects such as jock culture and sex assault. It's wrongheaded, make no mistake. Now, thanks to the Philadelphia Daily News bizarrely writing a positive profile of Cousins that included ill-chosen words from Flyers director of player development Ian Laperrière, Cousins wound up in a media storm on Thursday.

    The kicker is it's not even really about him or the Greyhounds, whose climb up the standings will be painted positively no matter what happens in court. Hockey cannot be filtered out of the case, but hockey not is on trial. It's more about how the media is vexed to properly write about an age-old societal scourge.

    Read More »from Why Philadelphia story about Greyhounds star Nick Cousins was a bad mistake
  • It was just a matter of when a major junior hockey team would get in on the Harlem Shake fad.

    Within hours of each other on Thursday, two Canadian Hockey League teams, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Kitchener Rangers, released what might be considered duelling versions of the viral dance video that has all but broken the Internet.

    The QMJHL's Huskies begins with one player clad in a Speedo swimsuit and an upside-down wastebasket on his head starting the dance in the middle of a team study sessions. The OHL's Rangers is initiated by one of the mascots in the team dressing room. Let's let the Internet decide who is going better. Apparently, "The key to a 'good' Harlem Shake video is for one person, and one person only, to dance to the music, and then when the beat drops, to quick cut to everyone else in the dorm, locker room, or office going absolutely nuts." It looks like both teams captured the spirit of the thing.

    Kitchener's version, highlighted by one of their goaltenders wearing his goalie pads on his arms and another player getting piggybacked around the room. One too-cool-for-the-room player reads a newspaper,

    Rouyn-Noranda's version, complete with wild, shirtless gyrations. Plus one player in the foreground doing what is either The Worm or really intense crossfit training. The Huskies might have a little more energy here, as hockey commentators would say.

    Read More »from Kitchener Rangers, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies do duelling ‘Harlem Shake’ videos
  • Tesink has only played 6 games for Blainville-Boisbriand since his trade from Saint John (Getty Images)

    Ryan Tesink, who plays a gritty game while being built like a whippet, has probably accumulated more than his fair share of bumps and bruises over three seasons in the QMJHL.

    There probably isn't a player in major junior who gets through a season that frankly is longer than is actually healthful for teenagers without needing physio and regular visits to the training room. That doesn't necessarily mean someone is injured, though, especially when he only missed two games in the first half of the season. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada are contending the Saint John Sea Dogs concealed that Tesink's knee injury before their Jan. 2 trade. He had one, but it didn't impair him from playing. To get Tesink, the Armada traded Saint John back its 2013 first-round pick to get the 19-year-old forward, which could end up being a top five selection.

    Tesink played in 35 of Saint John's 37 games before the deal, missing a pair of October contests due to suspension. The St. Louis Blues draft pick skated in the Armada's first six afterward before his knee became too injured for him to play; along the way he was named first star in each of his first two games. After he was injured, a cone of silence descended over his status. The QMJHL has not dismissed it out of hand, scheduling a hearing for Feb. 18.

    Read More »from QMJHL calls hearing over Ryan Tesink trade; Blainville-Boisbriand Armada traded top-5 pick for forward who is now injured
  • Scheifele appeared in 4 games for the Jets before rejoining Barrie (OHL Images)

    The contrast between where Mark Scheifele just was and where he hopes to be next year could not have been more stark, set off as it was by scores of empty seats.

    The 19-year-old might have played at a sold-out Scotiabank Place last Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada if he had stretched out his stay with the Winnipeg Jets for a few more days. Now that his need to improve his balance and strength in order to augment his playmaking has dictated a return to the Barrie Colts, he was playing in front of an announced crowd of 2,021 diehards willing to make the suburban commute to support the last-place Ottawa 67's during a rebuilding season. The Colts won 10-1, with Scheifele counting a hat trick plus three assists.

    It was a night to wonder what Scheifele could be getting out of major junior. With the CHL-NHL agreement being what it is, there seemed little way to sneak in a "Well, what if you could go play for the St. John's IceCaps?" question. Does a 19-year-old weigh himself down with such a hypothetical? The big takeaway, though, came after the fourth and fifth Colts goals in the second period. On the 4-1 marker, where Scheifele flicked a fat rebound out of midair, the Colts celebrated like kids. But when Zach Hall got the-rout's-on power-play marker that was set up by Scheifele four minutes later, Barrie was casual — no raised sticks, no receiving line of high-fives past the bench.

    Scheifele was part of making the call not to rub it in while the young 67's confidence crumbled (as Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk, whose team finished last two seasons ago, put it, "When you're on the poor end of it, it's hard to get your body to move"). That spoke to the biggest gain he hopes to make out of the rest of the season, being a leader.

    Read More »from Mark Scheifele takes lead with Barrie Colts, even in a basic no-win situation like a blowout
  • Andrew Fritsch had not had a hat trick in 4 OHL seasons (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Andrew Fritsch, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

    The Phoenix Coyotes selection missed a month of this season with a high ankle sprain, but is doing much better now. Fritsch (4G-1A, +3), who has fought through injuries throughout his career, had the best night of his nearly four seasons in the Ontario league by accounting for half of the Soo onslaught during an 8-0 victory over the Sarnia Sting. The win vaulted the 'Hounds over Sarnia and kept them three points adrift of Plymouth in the West Division race. Linemate Nick Cousins, with four assists, retook the league scoring lead with 88 points ahead of Sarnia captain Charlie Sarault.

    Fritsch got two power-play goals in the first period by finding a good parking spot in front of the Sting goal, where he redirected point shots by OHL defenceman-of-the-year candidate Ryan Sproul. In the second, as the game began to get out of hand, Fritsch scored a beauty goal off the rush, whooshing past defenceman Craig Duininck and slipping

    Read More »from Phoenix Coyotes pick Andrew Fritsch scores 4 goals in Greyhounds’ thrashing: Wednesday’s 3 Stars
  • Alex ForsbergWhen lacing up the skates for the Prince George Cougars became a chore, Alex Forsberg knew he needed a change of scenery to rekindle his love for the game.

    “I knew I needed to ask for a trade when I stopped having fun in Prince George,” says Forsberg, the Cougars’ first overall pick of the 2011 Western Hockey League bantam draft. “I felt I needed a change. And I had to ask for a trade to get that.”

    Forsberg’s decision to ask Cougars GM Dallas Thompson for a trade wasn’t viewed as “the right thing to do." The majority frown upon players that ask for a one-way ticket to a different city.

    But at the end of the day, if Forsberg isn’t having fun playing hockey, shouldn’t he have the right to do what he thinks will bring back the enjoyment? After all, if he doesn’t look out for his best interest, who will?

    The 18-year-old wouldn’t delve into his problem with the Cougars organization. He did, however, mention his frustration with playing on a losing team.

    “I’m not going to badmouth the team,”

    Read More »from Alex Forsberg talks about his decision to leave Prince George
  • Blades' two-way forward Matej Stransky throws a check (CP)When is it going to be time to start talking about how good of a hockey team this spring's MasterCard Memorial Cup hosts are?

    This current nine-game winning streak they're on can't last, although the group put together by head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken is now beginning to get results as advertised. They beat the Swift Current Broncos on a late goal from Josh Nicholls last night to improve their record to 32-29-3. It seems like a long time ago the team began 2-7 and there were already questions about Duncan Siemens' leadership, the chemistry in the locker room, and the Sportsnet cameras following around the team all the time.

    As it happens, when you're scoring on just 6.4% of your shots and your opponents are scoring on 14.6% of the same, you're probably not going to win too many hockey games. But shooting and save percentages are fairly unsustainable, especially over a very small sample of games. Even while the team had a poor start, they were consistently out-shooting the opposition and holding an advantage in puck possession. They just weren't winning.

    Read More »from Blades win ninth straight: what spurred the turnaround in Saskatoon?

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