Buzzing The Net

  • Drouin has 75 points in only 36 games (Getty Images)

    In other news possibly pertaining to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jonathan Drouin did just fine without Nathan MacKinnon to get him the puck.

    As if just to fan the flames in the debate of the merits of the two 17-year-old phenoms, Drouin lit up the P.E.I. Rocket for hat trick on Tuesday in the Halifax Mooseheads' first game since MacKinnon was sidelined by a leg injury. The first two were as sweet as restaurant quality lemonade, showing off Drouin's acceleration, hands and generally all-around awesome spatial sense.

    So is #DroppingForDrouin for #LosingForDrouin the appropriate hashtag?

    One should not blow too much smoke since Drouin still has much to learn before he can do this in the NHL on a semi-halfway regular basis. It hardly tells the same story to point out Drouin has nearly identical numbers as a 17-year-old who only joined the Mooseheads midway through last season that Saint John Sea Dogs graduate Jonathan Huberdeau produced last season as an 18-year-old in his third full

    Read More »from Halifax Mooseheads’ Jonathan Drouin gets highlight-reel hat trick in first game of MacKinnon’s absence (VIDEO)
  • Edmonton scoring leader Dylan Wruck (Getty Images)

    The past week was a higher the climb, the more that is exposed week among major junior hockey's best teams. A heavy slate of big-time matchups meant next to no one got through the week unscathed. Even the Portland Winterhawks. It's like the sport turned into college basketball, where whoever has climbed to the top of the AP Top 25 this season seems to immediately lose.

    That led to some shakeup in the rankings, with only Seth Jones' team and Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin's teams holding on to the same rung. The Edmonton Oil Kings, thanks to their own strong past few weeks and a surge from their frenemies down Hwy. 2 in Calgary, snuck into second spot. Cue the images of an Edmonton-Portland rematch in May for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. I would say we should not think too far ahead, but everyone's been thinking it since the start of the season.

    1. Portland Winterhawks, WHL (.575 RPI, 2.0 SRS, —) — Make no mistake, the multi-point individual scoring efforts notwithstanding, Portland's

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks, Edmonton Oil Kings 1-2 in BTN Dynamic Dozen
  • If there has been a better old-time booming bodycheck lately than this one that Elias Ghantous delivered in a Central Canada Hockey League game last Friday, well, it has not made YouTube.

    During a CCHL contest, Gloucester Rangers forward Keegan Rowe tried to spark his team by leading a rush and trying to squeeze through the space between Carleton Place Canadians' Ghantous and the boards. The 18-year-old Ghantous, as you can see, was not having it, as he knocked Rowe off his feet with a huge open-ice check — which led to his team quickly transitioning for a 3-on-1 rush and a goal. Now that's some end-to-end action that you don't see every day.

    Read More »from Massive bodycheck in Junior A game by Carleton Place Canadians’ Elias Ghantous (VIDEO)
  • Jaskin caught MacKinnon from the blind side on Monday (Marc Grandmaison photo)Moncton Wildcats star Dmitrij Jaskin finds himself in hot water after a checking-to-the-head penalty he took against the Rimouski Océanic on Monday. It could make him ineligible for a rematch against the Canadian Hockey League’s No. 1 team, the Halifax Mooseheads.

    The Wildcats forward took the penalty late in the second period, nailing Océanic defenceman Ryan MacKinnon with direct contact to the noggin from a blindside angle.

    MacKinnon went to play the puck in the corner, and Jaskin went to check him, looking at his numbers and left shoulder. On impact, Jaskin hit the head and shoulder from the back left side, catching mostly head on impact, crumpling MacKinnon to the ice as the Océanic gathered around Jaskin trying to get their pound of flesh.

    The hit prompted a five-minute major, a match penalty and a phone call from Raymond Bolduc, the QMJHL’s disciplinary head. As per QMJHL rules regarding match penalties, Jaskin, a St. Louis Blues second rounder in 2011, is suspended until the commissioner can review the play and allow him to play again.

    That could have major implications down the road, where the Wildcats play the Saint John Sea Dogs on Friday and then a rematch against the Mooseheads in Halifax on Saturday. Jaskin, who dominated the last game against the Mooseheads with a hat trick, would be a huge hole in the lineup for the Wildcats to fill.

    Read More »from Moncton Wildcats’ Dmitrij Jaskin gets match penalty for headshot ahead of rematch vs. Mooseheads
  • Nathan MacKinnon (left) with Jonathan Drouin (The Canadian Press)

    As if Halifax and Moncton is not enough of a rivalry, now the Mooseheads' faithful can blame the ice at the old Coliseum for sidelining big shining star, Nathan MacKinnon.

    The second-ranked prospect for this season's draft will miss "seven to 14 days" for the Mooseheads with a lower-body injury. As it happened, Mooseheads play-by-play man John Moore had isolated video that showed MacKinnon favouring his right leg after apparently catching a skate in a rut last Friday when Halifax lost 8-5 on the road to the Moncton Wildcats.

    The upshot is the Moncton-Halifax rematch on Saturday could occur without each team's star player. Wildcats scoring leader Dmitrij Jaskin got a match penalty for a check to the head against the Rimouski Océanic on Monday.

    Here's the play. MacKinnon was a gamer, finishing his shift despite apparent discomfort.

    Read More »from Halifax Mooseheads’ Nathan MacKinnon will rest injury for 1-2 weeks (VIDEO)
  • Patrick Roy was at it again Saturday night.

    Quebec Remparts coach, GM and part-owner Patrick Roy (The Canadian Press)In the press conference following his Quebec Remparts’ 3-1 win over the Victoriaville Tigres, the NHL hall-of-famer was up to his old tricks, this time calling out Tigres assistant coach Carl Mallette. Patrick claims Mallette was doing a lot of chirping from the bench instead of helping coach the Tigres.
    Mr. I-can’t-hear-Jeremy-because-of-my-two-Stanley-Cup-rings-plugging-my-ears waited until the end of the gathering to voice his opinion, and then sounded off on the rookie assistant (video in French):

    I have a question. [Who is] the guy behind the Tigres bench, Carl Mallette? Is he the president of the team? What is he doing there? He talks a lot for a guy who’s behind the bench. Is it because he has nothing to do? I’d just like to understand it.
    He should talk to [Tigres GM] Jerome [Mesonaro about whether] he wants to coach or if he wants to be president. I’d just like to know what he wants to do.

    Following that is the only English word in

    Read More »from Patrick being Patrick: Roy blasts Tigres assistant for chirping
  • Kitchener has improved since Frank Corrado arrived from Sudbury (Claus Andersen, Getty Images)One month out from the trade deadline, one firm conclusion is that the Barrie Colts' and London Knights' front offices deserve some very nice Valentine Day's gift baskets from fans who love to see parity in the OHL.

    The Ontario Hockey League can justifiably play up its competitiveness, but four of the past five championship series have matched teams which, quelle surprise, also paced their conference in the regular season. The lone exception was in 2009 and it was a small one: the Matt Duchene/Cody Hodgson Brampton Battalion won the Eastern title over the P.K. Subban-led Belleville Bulls after coming second, by two points, in the final standings.

    The fact one month has passed since the trade deadline is a prompt to chew over which teams have improved the most. People want to say whether a team's additions and subtractions have worked and they want to attribute it to something. Who is anyone to say that 13 games per team, less than one-fifth of the season, is not enough to make hard

    Read More »from Barrie Colts, London Knights pinning hopes on 2014 Memorial Cup has reshaped OHL turf: the lay of the land, one month after the trade deadline
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Officially, the Saskatoon Blades had 12,588 fans, the most to every see a major junior game in Saskatchewan, in attendance on Saturday. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    The Portland Winterhawks had 4-0 and 5-0 leads during their two-game sweep of Kelowna, but it's not like a series in February is definitive. (Kelowna Daily Courier, Oregon Live, The Pipeline Show)

    With Portland's Nic Petan now up to 40 goals, it is fair to ask how long it has been since a 17-year-old sophomore scored 50. Kelowna play-by-play man Regan Bartel believes Patrick Marleau is the most recent: "Petan is smallish, but I don't care if he's 4 foot 3, he goes to the right areas to score goals. Petan is playing with two highly skilled players [Brendan Leipsic and Ty Rattie] but he isn't riding on their coat tails." (Regan's Rant)

    The Victoria Royals moved into fourth in the Western Conference just in time to head out on an 11-day road trip with key forwards such Alex Gogolev and Logan Nelson ailing. (Victoria Times-Colonist, Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    Winning without injured captain Hunter Shinkaruk is challenging for Medicine Hat, but it managed it on Sunday. (Tiger Turf)

    The Everett Silvertips are providing a money-back guarantee to season-ticket holders who renew in each of the next two seasons. That is the kind of year it's been without Ryan Murray. (Everett Herald)

    OHL

    Take a few minutes to really watch the CBC feature on Saginaw Spirit wing Gregg Sutch, who is hearing impaired. (CBC Sports)

    A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

    Read More »from Nic Petan eyes 50-goal year, Spitfires’ season on brink: Monday’s coast-to-coast
  • Leafs pick Ryan Rupert got a match penalty during London's latest loss (OHL Images)

    It was an eon ago in junior hockey time — about one month — when the London Knights appeared to be the lone OHL team which presented a case for being a world-beater at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. The aura emanating from the afterglow of London coming up one goal shy of winning it all last spring and then one win shy of tying the all-time major junior record for consecutive wins pretty much chloroformed any critic into submission: okay, so London is going to win the OHL three years in a row.

    The Knights are still going to finish first overall, but last weekend's string of 4-3 losses to the Sarnia Sting, Owen Sound Attack and surging Kitchener Rangers meant they have thrice had three-game slides. As you might recall, London never lost three in a row during its 2011-12 championship season; it took until March, when they were winding down and trying to stay healthy for the playoffs, before they even lost consecutive games. Now they seem to be the most hard-luck team in the league at this writing. With high profile, comes heavy scrutiny; like the Montreal Canadiens of yore, London just isn't allowed to have a slump. Or is there more to it?

    Read More »from London Knights in lull, Kitchener Rangers rising; have tables truly turned in OHL?
  • The Grammy Awards were on Sunday night, but there is already a favourite to win in one of the music video categories. That's referring to something else already out there, not Dubuque Fighting Saints lip-syncing to Selena Gomez's Love You Like A Love Song, although it's still endearing.

    To show their fans some love ahead of Valentine Day's, and to show once again that junior hockey players often seem to be missing the shame gene that makes the rest of us seem shy and thus dull, several of the Fighting Saints got their groove on.

    Read More »from Dubuque Fighting Saints lip-sync to Selena Gomez for Valentine Day’s (VIDEO)
  • Sarault leads the Ontario League with 85 points(OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Charlie Sarault, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

    Sarault (1G-4A, +3) and Reid Boucher (2G, +3) continued to ensure the Sting don't miss Alex Galchenyuk too much, as they led Sarnia past the Barrie Colts 6-5 in an absolute scorefest. The day began with the Sting wearing the Cornwall Royals 1980s throwback jerseys during the warmup as a tribute to Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk and then the two teams channeled a game from that decade. By the time Boucher popped in his own rebound for the game-winner after taking a Sarault feed, the New Jersey Devils draft pick had his 49th goal of the season and Sarault had an OHL-best 85 points.

    Sarault kept his teammates' plates piled high with loaves and passes all afternoon. The Fournier, Ont., native showed great vision in the second period, when he zipped a pass through the traffic to give Boucher a one-time goal and then set up 17-year-old offensive defenceman Anthony DeAngelo (1G-2A, +2) a few minutes later.

    Fittingly, on a day when a Winnipeg Jets great was honoured, Mark Scheifele had two goals for Barrie. The centre had six points in three games this weekend after returning from the Jets.

    Read More »from Sarnia Sting’s Charlie Sarault has 5-point day: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Tom Wilson had 4 points on Saturday (OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

    Whalers coach-GM Mike Vellucci's line-juggling paid off immediately. The Vince Trocheck-Ryan Hartman-Wilson line — the playmaker, the pest and physical presence — combined for 10 points and a +12 plus/minus in a 7-3 rout of the Owen Sound Attack which vaulted Plymouth back into the No. 2 playoff position in the Western Conference.

    Wilson (2G-2A, +4), the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Washington Capitals first-round pick, indicated that he is capable of reading off skilled forwards such as Trocheck and putting up numbers. The Attack, fresh off a road win over league-leading London, were poised for more of the same after shooting out to a 2-0 lead. Wilson got the Whalers going with a bank shot from behind the goal line off Attack goalie Jordan Binnington, then assisted on a Trocheck tally to level the match. The Toronto native, who was a late cut of Team Canada earlier this season, scored again in the second period to tie it 3-3 after Hartman took a check to make a centring pass. Wilson then helped the Whalers go ahead for good by drawing a helper on a tally by Gianluca Curcuruto.

    Hartman (4A, +4) also had a four-point outing. Trocheck (1G-1A, +4) now has 26 points in 12 games since moving south from Saginaw to Plymouth at the deadline.

    Read More »from Capitals first-rounder Tom Wilson puts Plymouth Whalers back in division lead: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Saturday night could be another day in the Portland-Kelowna matchup, but a Winterhawks win would open a nine-point lead in the Western Conference race. (Portland Tribune)

    The Victoria Royals got along rather well while captain Tyler Stahl was suspended for a head shot. He returns for a big game at Spokane on Sunday. (Victoria Times-Colonist)

    Former NHLer Kelly Chase reflects back to Feb. 9, 1988, when the Saskatoon Blades opened the Credit Union Centre arena. The current Blades are expecting a crowd of 13,000-plus as they put a seven-game win streak on the line Saturday vs. Lethbridge. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Southwest Booster)

    Kamloops Blazers defenceman Marek Hrbas is open to being a two-spot, import/overage player, next season. (Kamloops Daily News)

    All this winning and Kootenay is still three points out of a playoff position? (Between The Lines)

    OHL

    Lots to curse at London, Ont., this Saturday: the snow, the apparent impossibility of buying a ticket on the Budweiser Gardens website to an upcoming Pearl Jam concert and Owen Sound Attack right wing Cameron Brace. Brace drew London's Matt Rupert into a penalty, then scored the winning goal Friday for the Attack's first road win over the Knights since 2011. (London Free Press)

    Belleville Bulls D-man Jake Cardwell might be lucky to only be sitting 10 games after being suspended for an altercation with a fan in Oshawa. (Belleville Intelligencer)

    Read More »from Silver streak for Saskatoon Blades, MacKinnon injury minor: Saturday’s coast-to-coast
  • Kelowna Rockets' Tyrell Goulbourne (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)

    The Kelowna Rockets' Tyrell Goulbourne might have to be called Little Mac after his takedown of the Portland Winterhawks' Joe Mahon on Friday night.

    It was probably inevitable the two were going to go at some point in the two-game series between Portland and Kelowna, the two best teams in the Western Hockey League's Western Conference, since Mahon and Goulbourne are the second and third most frequent fighters in the WHL. But the physical contrast almost seemed comical when Goulbourne challenged Mahon when the Rockets were down 3-0 in the second period. Mahon, at a towering 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, had a half a foot in height and 15 pounds on Goulbourne.

    But the Rockets forward, like the video game character made famous in the NES version of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! — and in no way is it the least bit depressing to think that the 18-year-old Goulbourne might not have any idea what we are referencing — chopped down his much larger combatant.

    Read More »from Kelowna Rockets’ Tyrell Goulbourne scores TKO in ‘David vs. Goliath’ WHL fight (VIDEO)
  • Laurent Brossoit is putting together another impressive seasonIf there's a time for humour in the Edmonton Oil Kings' locker room, it might just be during this winning stretch of theirs, similar to last season's, but one that ended in disappointment.

    Starting goaltender Laurent Brossoit might be the first to tell you that he struggled on the national stage last May. He had an .871 save percentage during the tournament and allowed six goals in the first two periods of the Tiebreaker game.

    This morning, last season's Western Hockey League playoff MVP took to his Twitter account and channeled his inner @strombone1, posting an Instagram photo of him after having allowed a goal during last season's MasterCard Memorial Cup:

    But that appears to be behind Brossoit now, as the Oil Kings again look poised to win the WHL's Eastern Conference and will probably match up against the Portland Winterhawks in the final for the second straight season. Edmonton, going into Friday's game in Brandon, are 40-11-2 on the season, 13 points up on second-place Calgary and 20 up on East Division leading Prince Albert.

    Read More »from Brossoit, Jarry, elite for Oil Kings as team prepares for another playoff run
  • Fucale has been in goal for 34 of Halifax's 42 wins (Getty Images)

    Scanning for kinks in Zachary Fucale's game has been known to cause severe eye strain.

    One should not get carried away proclaiming that North America's top-ranked goalie prospect for the NHL draft is a young man without a flaw. The Halifax Mooseheads goalie is not immune to the fluctuations in performance and confidence that are particular to young netminders. What is striking about Fucale is that since his arrival in Halifax about 18 months ago, he has shown an economy of movement that's rare in a developing netminder. The Rosemère, Que., native, in his own words, is "patient on pucks" in a way that could make you think he's 17 going on 25.

    "For me, it's just being calm and staying controlled in what you're doing and keeping things simple — not moving for nothing if you don't have to," says Fucale, who has a 2.42 average and .901 save percentage for the Quebec League-leading Mooseheads. "As soon as you do that, you save a lot of energy. As a goalie, that's important."

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

    WHL

    Get your popcorn ready for the Portland-Kelowna showdown. You know it's big since Winterhawks coach Travis Green is really minding his words closely. (Oregon Live)

    Rod Pedersen writes that third-season Regina Pats GM Chad Lang, whose team has lost 11 of 12, deserves more time to make changes. (Rodservations)

    If Portland is getting any "relief" from the sanctions the WHL imposed two months ago, the WHL should come out and say so, writes Steve Ewen: "I get, too, that the league is hoping this Winterhawk brouhaha fades away. Sorry. It’s not going to. It’s only going to get worse. Portland could win the whole shebang. It could be the story of the Memorial Cup." (Vancouver Province)

    Make that 10 wins in a row for the Eastern Conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings. (Edmonton Journal)

    Fun night for Everett Silvertips first-rounder Kevin Davis: get called up to play your against hometown Kamloops Blazers and play both forward and defence in a 6-nil loss. 'Tips coach-GM Garry Davidson: "He's smart and cool as a cucumber. He'll be really good for us." (Kamloops Daily News)

    OHL

    Barrie Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk tells Paul Friesen why Mark Scheifele was up against it with the Winnipeg Jets: "He needs to get into a spot where he’s playing with highly skilled guys who see the ice and think the way he does. He’s not going to be a fourth-line guy. If that’s what he turns out to be then you could say it didn’t turn out the way you thought.” (QMI Agency)

    Philadelphia Flyers-drafted goalie Anthony Stolarz was hard on himself after London's home overtime loss to Sarnia: "You want to stay mentally focused ... I wasn’t all there." (Metro London, London Free Press)

    Read More »from Rockets, Winterhawks meet in momentous matchup, Scheifele saddles up for Colts: Friday’s coast-to-coast
  • Nikolay Goldobin is eligible for the 2014 draft (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    No. 1 star: Nikolay Goldobin, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

    For the second time this season, Goldobin led the Sting out of a trailing-after-40 jam to an overtime win over the London Knights, who have blown a third-period lead exactly zero times against their other 18 OHL rivals. The 17-year-old sensation capped a three-point night 16 seconds into overtime by feathering a crisp-yet-soft pass to Sting defenceman Anthony DeAngelo, who snapped the puck past fellow New Jersey native Anthony Stolarz for a 4-3 Sarnia win.

    During the third period, Goldobin (1G-2A, +3) also erased the last of the Knights' lead with a behind-the-back setup that created a wide-open net for captain Charlie Sarault. The Russian also scored in the last minute of the first period, cutting into an early 2-0 deficit and ending an 181-minute, 31-second Knights shutout streak. Of course, Goldobin ended a better-known Knights streak on New Year's Day when he scored his fourth goal of the game in overtime to snap a 24-win skein.

    "I don’t know what he is used to playing in front of at home, but London’s the big-time," DeAngelo told Metro London. “It’s awesome for him to step up here.”

    Goldobin is second in OHL rookie scoring behind Erie's Connor McDavid, who is 15 months younger. McDavid will likely be named the league's rookie of the year, but Goldobin should garner some support.

    Read More »from Sarnia Sting’s Nikolay Goldobin a Knight slayer again: Thursday’s 3 Stars
  • Sarnia Sting rookie Nikolay Goldobin (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)Based on recent trends, it appears as though more draft-eligible imports are trying their hand in the Canadian Hockey League. I don't want to affix a particular narrative to a small sample of data, but over the last three National Hockey League drafts, 39 selects have been imported players on WHL, OHL or QMJHL teams.

    Over the five seasons before that, the total number was 31.

    What's the reason for the shift? Either it's in visibility or that countries are beginning to develop better junior hockey players. I'm opting for the latter. Recent CHL imports to be drafted into the NHL have come from non-traditional hockey nations like Germany's Philip Grubauer and Marcel Noebels, Denmark's Niklas Jensen, two Swiss-born studs from the Portland Winterhawks Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bärtschi, and their WHL rival, the Swiss-born-but-plays-for-France Tim Bozon.

    What more's, as the top international hockey players look for new avenues to distinguish themselves from the pack, is they're becoming not just good players for CHL clubs, but very important ones. Three imports, two of them drafted, find themselves on the top page of the WHL's leaderboard, Bozon and Matej Stransky. The third is Victoria's Alex Gogolev, who holds the dubious distinction of being a rare 20-year old import, taking up one of three Royals' overage spots and one of two European spots.

    Read More »from Imported CHL players increasing in value as worldwide player development improves
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Portland Winterhawks coach-GM Mike Johnston's season-long suspension will likely stand, reports Gregg Drinnan. But the WHL might dial back some of the sanctions against Portland. (Taking Note)

    Expect some playoff-like intensity for the Portland-Kelowna two games series that begins Friday. The Rockets got a bad game out of their system on Wednesday. (Kelowna Capital News)

    The Spokane Chiefs' 1,000th win as a franchise was all goalie Eric Williams. Well, mostly at least. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    Since the Springfield of Simpsons fame is in Oregon, a massive D'oh! on the timing of a glowing profile of the Portland Winterhawks. They lost at home to Calgary on Wednesday. (Portland Tribune)

    By hook or by (Jamie) Crooks, the Victoria Royals are continuing their push up the Western Conference standings. (Voice of the Victoria Royals)

    OHL

    All the Mark Scheifele's back in Barrie coverage that you can shake a stick borrowed from P.K. Subban toward. (Barrie Examiner, Winnipeg Sun)

    Will New Jersey Devils draft pick Reid Boucher get any closer to the 50-goal mark in Thursday's Sarnia Sting-London Knights tilt? (London Free Press)

    Read More »from Leniency for Portland? Thursday’s coast-to-coast