Buzzing The Net

  • Fabbri was only the third 17-year-old to be named OHL playoff MVP (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Robby Fabbri is right on time.

    The likely NHL first-round pick was at an impressionable age in the mid-aughties when big-league hockey reacquainted itself with a more free-flowing style of play that embraced the smaller, skilled player. Over the years, the stigma against prospects with the Guelph Storm star's dimensions, 5-foot-10¼ and 170 pounds, has also faded.

    "It's an inspiration, the game's not all about size," Fabbri said of the changes that have taken place in the NHL since 2005, when he was a nine-year-old puck-chaser in Mississauga. "When you have small guys with big heart and grit, it's equal to being six-foot-five, when you're not scared to go into corners and play bigger than your size, I don't think it's a big deal at all."

    Fabbri was No. 21 in NHL Central Scouting Service's final North American ranking. That was issued before he won OHL playoff MVP honours and helped the Storm come within one win of capturing the Memorial Cup. He's expected to perhaps sneak into the top 10. It's reminiscent of the rise another 5-10 centre from the OHL, Jeff Skinner, had four years ago with the Kitchener Rangers before going directly to the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes.

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Robby Fabbri, Guelph Storm
  • Thatcher Demko is regarded as the top goalie of the 2014 draft. (Getty Images)

    At first glance, the 2014 crop of draft eligible goaltenders doesn’t seem to be overly strong. The class clearly doesn’t have a netminder as highly regarded as then-Tri-City American Carey Price in 2005 or American phenom Jack Campbell in 2010.

    When digging into the crop, though, the draft seems to have a handful of enticing goalies outside of the first round with the potential to develop into quality starters.

    Scout’s take: “Although this year's draft class may not have the depth of the previous two years, I think the goalies at the top are going to prove to be as good, or better, than those taken in the same slots in 2012 and 2013,” says Brad MacCharles, goalie scout for International Scouting Services. “(Thatcher) Demko, (Mason) McDonald, and (Ville) Husso all have the size and athleticism necessary to compete in today's NHL and this leads me to believe they may have more upside than some of the smaller goalies taken in the first few rounds of last year's draft. I don't

    Read More »from Scout’s take on top goalies of 2014 NHL draft class
  • 2014 QMJHL Draft Preview: Sea Dogs eye Green at first pick

    Newbridge Academy's Luke Green could land in Saint John come draft day. (Ted Pritchard / Halifax Chronicle-Herald)Newbridge Academy's Luke Green could land in Saint John come draft day. (Ted Pritchard / Halifax Chronicle-Herald)

    It’s silly season in the QMJHL, the time where all the trade wink-wink nudge-nudges get confirmed and some new prospects are added to the coffers of Q teams everywhere.

    The 2014 QMJHL Draft will be held Saturday in Sherbrooke, Qc., and it is always a wild affair filled with rumours and trades. The third and final – or first, depending on how you look at it – trading period of the season opens Friday and closes Saturday after the draft, so most teams jockey to change their looks and get the prospects they want, all while giving their teams a facelift.

    Several deals have been reported already and have yet to be “officially” printed by the league, and some deals remain a rumour, to be announced Friday.

    Speaking of rumours, the Saint John Sea Dogs are widely believed to take Newbridge Academy blueliner Luke Green first overall on Saturday. Green projects to be a smart offensive defenceman, and likely the best skater out of the Maritimes in this draft. He can be the fourth forward setting

    Read More »from 2014 QMJHL Draft Preview: Sea Dogs eye Green at first pick
  • Rychel had 2 assists on Sunday in his final OHL game (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)LONDON, Ont. — His eyes red and watery, Kerby Rychel was still in full gear nearly an hour after the Guelph Storm's dream was denied.

    It was understandable and permissible for a 19-year-old star who came to the Guelph Storm to win the Memorial Cup, the same way the Windsor Spitfires teams his father built did in 2009 and '10. At game's end, Rychel and linemate Robby Fabbri remained on the Storm bench, heads down, inconsolable. Finally, teammate Scott Kosmachuk came over with a few encouraging words to get the two to join the handshake line, lest anyone form the mistaken impression they were showing up Edmonton.

    "It's the last game of my junior career and I kind of don't want it to end," the Columbus Blue Jackets pick said. "It's tough. I'm just trying to stay in the moment.

    "Give credit to Edmonton," Rychel added. "They played great defence. A lot of guys say that but at the end of the night it's on us. We didn't win. They're the champs."

    Read More »from Kerby Rychel crestfallen after Guelph Storm’s Memorial Cup loss: ‘It’s tough for this to be his last game’
  • Guelph players watch Edmonton's celebration (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Down two, time dwindling and tension rising as the goals that had come like clockwork all year didn't come, the Guelph Storm still fostered a belief it could happen.

    It couldn't, of course. The Memorial Cup is a different animal than even league playoffs; like Storm coach Scott Walker said, "When it's two teams left out of 60, you're not likely to get 'em back every time." The Edmonton Oil Kings, which won 6-3 to take the Cup back to Western Canada, were too stout, too primed to lose the upper hand once it started rolling against the Storm. Eight months of high-speed, high-scoring hockey felt like it was all for naught after a one long afternoon in front of 8,863 at Budweiser Gardens.

    "A while — a long time," Storm captain Matt Finn said when asked how long it will take to turn the page. "We played so well getting here. Give credit to Edmonton.

    "I think we've had one of the best teams in junior hockey," added Finn, one of the Storm's 11 overage or 19-year-old players. "Six defencemen who can play, four lines that can put the puck in the net, it's very rare. I think we've been one the best junior hockey teams that a lot people have seen in many years. Put a team in a seven-game series with us and we take it home."

    Read More »from Guelph Storm ‘crushed’ by Memorial Cup loss to Edmonton Oil Kings: ‘They outwilled us’
  • The Oil Kings brought Edmonton its first Memorial Cup since 1966 (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — The Henrik Samuelsson-Mitch Moroz-Edgars Kulda line embodied #PlayForPelssy to the very end, with the latter two scoring second-period goals that spurred the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 6-3 win over Guelph for the Memorial Cup.

    The Oil Kings showed no weariness from their triple-overtime semifinal win over Val-d'Or, falling behind twice early before outplaying and outshooting Guelph. Goalie Tristan Jarry was redoubtable, rallying his team with a breakaway save on Tyler Bertuzzi in the first period.

    Down two after two thanks to Kulda and Moroz's markers, Guelph stoked hopes of a comeback with a Zack Mitchell goal. Eighty-three seconds later, Samuelsson, who was quietly devastating throughout the day, finished off a 3-on-2 with a glove-side goal.

    Samuelsson completed a five-point day by scoring an empty-netter with 1:26 left.

    Edmonton will bring its city its first Memorial Cup title since 1966, when the original Oil Kings captured junior hockey's grail. The result ends a dream season for Guelph, which won 71 of its 92 games this season. Edmonton, ultimately, will cap off a run of three consecutive 50-win regular seasons and two Western Hockey League titles by taking home the CHL's big prize.

    Read More »from Henrik Samuelsson, Edgars Kulda spur inspired Edmonton Oil Kings to the top: Memorial Cup 3 Stars
  • Gazzola's late second period goal gave the Foreurs a chance to force OT (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — An overage's last game is a beginning, not an ending. Val-d'Or's Randy Gazzola deserves a big thanks for reminding one of that all week at the Memorial Cup.

    The Foreurs defenceman will not get the Memorial Cup ring he craved after that triple-overtime loss to Edmonton, but who ever gets everything they want? Gazzola had a big spotlight this week due to his backstory — southern Ontario native who took the plunge into the Q with Halifax last season as a 19-year-old rookie, got traded away from a Memorial Cup-winning team and made it back to the tournament with Val-d'Or while wearing an alternate's A. The St. Catharines native had nothing to hang his head over after a valedictory on Friday that included a goal, an assist and more pucks knocked down than the best analytics guys could ever count.

    It's nice to think that Gazzola went out on his terms, playing an all-around game as a two-way defenceman, and that it tied back to how he's approached playing elite hockey.

    Read More »from Val-d’Or Foreurs’ Randy Gazzola leaves lasting impression at Memorial Cup
  • Lazar scored the winning goal after 102 minutes 42 seconds of hockey (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — For Curtis Lazar and the Oil Kings, it's the longest one but not the last one.

    Edmonton is not the first team that's played two more games than the rested round-robin winner which awaits it in the Memorial Cup final. The twist is that the Oil Kings did it in one night, vanquishing Val-d'Or 4-3 in triple overtime after Lazar tipped Cody Corbett's shot by Antoine Bibeau in the 103rd minute. Those among the crowd of 8,776 at the Budweiser Gardens who stuck around for four hours and 12 minutes of breathless do-or-done hockey were rewarded for it.

    The Oil Kings will have, counting their cooldown, fewer than 40 hours to regroup for the final against Guelph. It might matter, but right now they don't mind.

    "They were probably sitting there back at the hotel just licking their chops," Lazar said of the Storm. "It was a memorable night. It's the longest game in Memorial Cup history. We got that momentum now but Guelph's had that time off. It's going to be a cool mix. We're going to go out there and play a 60-minute game — hopefully — and leave it all on the ice."

    "My first thought was go to bed, it's so late right now," the Ottawa Senators first-round pick said. "It's a big relief. That goal in the third, that's my guy. It went out there and I wasn't able to block it."

    Read More »from Edmonton Oil Kings win Memorial Cup’s longest game, can they refuel for rematch vs. Storm?
  • Guillaume Gelinas celebrates after his tying goal Friday night (Aaron Bell:CHL Images)Buzzing The Net's Three Stars following Edmonton's 4-3 triple overtime win over Val-d'Or, which, at 10 minutes, capped in at 102:42, the longest game in MasterCard Memorial Cup history. Edmonton advances to play the Guelph Storm in the final.

    Yahoo! Canada will host a live chat during Sunday's final, scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT start live on Sportsnet.

    No. 1 star: Guillaume Gélinas, Val-d'Or Foreurs

    The Foreurs wound up losing the game, but Guillaume Gélinas deserves all the credit in the world for his big minutes performance coming off what could have been a season-ending injury against the Storm. Gélinas hobbled off the ice after being on the receiving end of a knee-on-knee collision and missed Val-d'Or's final round robin game.

    However, he came back and was effective in the semi-final, scoring the tying goal on a well-placed point shot with just 36 seconds to go in regulation, sending the Foreurs again to overtime. It wasn't the prettiest of efforts, but you can't question Gélinas' effectiveness, despite playing with a badly-injured left leg. First period, he also managed a heavy hip-check on Edmonton's Riley Kieser, which went down as the biggest hit of the game in an otherwise not-so-physical contest.

    No. 2 star: Edgars Kulda, Edmonton Oil Kings

    The Latvian nearly won the game late in the second overtime on a brilliant end-to-end rush, and, for about the seventh consecutive Edmonton Oil Kings game, was the team's most dangerous forward. Kulda scored the insurance goal, to make the score 3-1 in the second, finishing off a pretty dangle after receiving a feed from Reid Petryk. No word on whether any one of London's consignment sporting goods stores was able to recover goaltender Antoine Bibeau's jock strap that he lost on the play.

    Read More »from Edmonton outlasts Val-d’Or in longest game in MasterCard Memorial Cup history – Friday’s 3 Stars
  • Bertuzzi has a tournament-high 5 goals in 3 games (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Tyler Bertuzzi is often on his own wavelength off the ice and on everyone's nerves while on it.

    It takes all kinds to win a Memorial Cup. The Guelph Storm with the strongest case for tourney MVP is Bertuzzi, who's scored five goals in three games and might have made several London dentists richer with all the jaw-grinding he caused in the Knights' season-ending loss. Bertuzzi has 19 potential answers to where he gets booed the most in the OHL — "Maybe North Bay in Game 4 (of the final), I got beer and popcorn spilled on me" — but hit the high note on Wednesday.

    Bertuzzi flailed on the ice after being kneed by London's Nikita Zadorov in the second period, turning the rink into Boooooooodweiser Gardens every time he touched the puck. Then he went top shelf for his second goal of the night to restore a two-goal margin. That summed up how far the Detroit Red Wings second-round pick has come across three years in the OHL. As a rookie, he left the impression of being an undersized fighter, getting in 16 fights (which would now incur a suspension). Now he's sniping.

    "My rookie year, I just needed to show what I could do whether it was fighting or being an agitator," said Bertuzzi, who will play in the final even though the run-in with the 6-foot-5, 228-pound Zadorov left him limping around. "It's fun, though. You get the guys going, you get the team going, you get the other team going. It makes the guys excited and it gets them energy."

    Read More »from Red Wings pick Tyler Bertuzzi makes Memorial Cup MVP case, while becoming a hockey heel
  • Kosmachuk and the Storm are 19-4 in the post-season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Too much downtime can be a drawback.

    The bye earner at the Memorial Cup, at minimum, has at least three days off before playing the last game of a 90-some-game season that began in August. There's no way to know for sure if it can affect how a team plays in the final, but inside the bubble of a big event, there potential for too much idle time to throw a team off. For the Guelph Storm, at least it's only three days and they're only one hour from their home base.

    "I think we have to almost take our mind off it for a day or two, just relax and have fun," goalie Justin Nichols said on Friday morning. "We'll really dial it in [Saturday] and focus on what we need to do. We have to make sure we're not too serious and burn ourselves out before Sunday.

    "Our families are around and we're familiar with London," the St. Catharines, Ont., native added. "Me and Finner [captain Matt Finn], we went downtown for sushi the other night. It's not as bad as if we were out in Saskatoon or something like that."

    Read More »from Guelph Storm fill pre-final layoff with bowling and baseball
  • Young London Knights fans partake in the Memorial Cup fanfest (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — The patches of empty seats that one might see for Edmonton and Val-d'Or in the Memorial Cup semifinal on Friday are all the proof the tournament format is not about to change.

    No amount of idealistic inveighing against the figurative 'going through the back door' host team berth to enter the Memorial Cup changes one obvious reality. Major junior hockey is a local game built on local following. Those who vote with their hearts, feet and disposable income do so out of love for their team. The Canadian Hockey League has the numbers that back it up; it knows, for instance, that traffic on league websites drops sharply during the playoffs as team by team is eliminated from the playoffs.

    Why that is the case is something for a greater mind than I to tackle. It's the entrenched reality, and one wishes it would be acknowledged before the next time someone panders to popular sentiment by saying, after the fact, the host team didn't belong.

    Read More »from London Knights ‘worst on-ice Memorial Cup host ever,’ but that is no reason to change the format
  • Titan prospect Jordan Boyd, 16, was pronounced dead last August after collapsing to the ice during the first day of drills at Titan camp.Titan prospect Jordan Boyd, 16, was pronounced dead last August after collapsing to the ice during the first day of drills at Titan camp.

    While hindsight is always 20/20 after the fact, more details have been unearthed in the surprise death of Jordan Boyd, 16, prospect of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan who collapsed and died on the first day of training camp this past season.

    It certainly doesn’t look good.

    Reports say that a defibrillator was not used until paramedics arrived at the scene at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre in Bathurst after Boyd collapsed. Had one been used in the crucial moments after his collapse, it could have made a difference.

    The details of Aug. 12 are available now. At 10:34 A.M., a call from the rink was made to 911 emergency services, who treated the case as an unresponsive/fainting incident, based on initial information. Three minutes into the call, the incident was changed to cardiac arrest, after it was learned that the team trainer had begun CPR. At that time, dispatch asked if there was an AED available, and heard someone ask a bystander to get it.

    When paramedics arrived at 10:40 A.M., they

    Read More »from More details released in Boyd death: defibrillator was not used in key moments after collapse
  • London salutes fans after being ousted on Wednesday (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Even before the London Knights' ouster became official, fans were trying to get rid of their tickets.

    The bottom tends to fall out of the secondary ticket market at the Memorial Cup once the host team exits. At the start of the tournament, there was a buzz around the potential for the Knights to try to win the title after coming up short in the previous two tournaments. Once London bowed out with a 7-2 loss to the Guelph Storm, ads started popping up on the resale site Kijiji, with some pretty favourable prices.

    Read More »from London Knights’ exit creates buyers’ market for Memorial Cup tickets
  • Scott Kosmachuk scored thrice for Guelph (Aaron Bell:CHL Images)No. 1 Star - Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph Storm

    Not a huge surprise here. The Winnipeg Jets prospect Kosmachuk scored a hat-trick during the final game of the round robin, taking advantage of open space in the slot all night. Kosmachuk, who know leads the MasterCard Memorial Cup in points with six in three games, opened the scoring on a one-touch pass from linemate Brock McGinn, and scored the second goal as well, giving Guelph a 2-0 lead when a rebound karomed directly onto his stick in the high slot.

    Five more goals were scored between the time Kosmachuk brought the score to 2-0 and the time Kosmachuk completed his hat-trick, but he eventually got there, with a one-touch finish from a Kerby Rychel setup. That's maximum puck efficiency for Kosmachuk on the night—on each of his goals, he only had to touch the puck once before it went in. Read into that what you will, but I'd prefer to think of it as a sign at how dominant Guelph was against the London defence in a 7-2 win, moving the puck at will in the offensive zone.

    No. 2 Star - Justin Nichols, Guelph Storm

    And yet as good as the Storm were on offence, they were pretty lacklustre defensively. Some of that is to be expected: teams that take a bit lead for much of the game tend to get out-shot for the rest of the contest. London actually out-shot Guelph 47-38, and it wasn't until the third period the Storm began to pull away in the third. Had Justin Nichols not played as well as he did, this game isn't the laugher.

    Read More »from Kosmachuk, Nichols the perfect Storm as Guelph knock off Knights – Memorial Cup 3 Stars
  • Storm captain Matt Finn (right) clears the crease in front of Justin Nichols (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — They talked a big game in a way that almost un-hockey-like, and then backed it up by playing one.

    All too often, the truth in sports is surrounded by a forcefield of 'they have a great team too' clichés. The Guelph Storm didn't bother with the latter, running with the storyline about consigning the London Knights to their fate as the most feeble Memorial Cup host team in a decade. (Coach Scott Walker apparently drew the "rivalry is for your media guys" straw.) It might have seemed shocking to someone who had bought the dream of the Guelph gang being humble heroes. Instead, they put themselves out there, knowing how it might look if they let London off the deck.

    "Being confident, you have to follow through with it, you can't blow smoke," said right wing Scott Kosmachuk, who had a hat trick, including a first-period pair during the 7-2 Storm rout at Budweiser Gardens. "We're not going to let up on anyone. We're going to keep playing Guelph Storm hockey throughout the tournament.

    "We have a great coaching staff, they're always lifting us up and giving us the tools to compete," the Winnipeg Jets signing added. "We had a great compete level throughout the room tonight."

    Read More »from Guelph Storm bounce London Knights, again: ‘I think we had a lot of teams pulling for us tonight’
  • Reinhart and the Oil Kings lost control of their playoff destiny with Tuesday's loss (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — The Tall Poppy Syndrome is strong with this one.

    Prior to Tuesday night, Edmonton Oil Kings star defenceman Griffin Reinhart had not tweeted since posting a photo of himself with the WHL championship trophy after the Game 7 win in Portland. As a likely future NHL defenceman with a strong sense of responsibility, though, Reinhart had to see what was out there after he was on the ice for tying and overtime goals during the Oil Kings' loss to Val-d'Or on Tuesday. Sure enough, a lot of people on the Oil Kings bandwagon were picking nits with the big man's game. Reinhart lost the puck to Anthony Mantha on the equalizer and was on the ice for the breakaway winner, two little data points on a night where he logged 40 minutes.

    "A lot of fans do know the game, but they say spur-of-the-moment things," Reinhart said. "I don't read too much into it. It's kind of entertaining to me. They can do what they want. It's their lives. It's their Twitter.

    "You can see a lot of it at world juniors, it even magnifies that much more. Athletes are used to it. Even the best player in the world will get criticized."

    Reinhart deemed it necessary to comment on the venting, but knew it was just that, emotions being released by people who can't affect the outcome. Mitch Moroz, his teammate for four seasons, also did a tongue-in-check pile-on.

    Read More »from Edmonton Oil Kings’ Griffin Reinhart responds to social media criticism after loss to Foreurs
  • Aube-Kubel is NHL Central Scouting's 40th-ranked domestic skater (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Two seasons ago, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel watched a Memorial Cup in his home province of Quebec and rooted for a team from the rest of Canada.

    It turns out that for all the hockey bloodlines in this tournament, with all of its Reinharts and Rychels, one family tie went under the radar. Aubé-Kubel, a potential NHL second-round pick, is a first cousin of former Oil Kings forward T.J. Foster, who played several of the present-day Edmontons on a 2012 WHL title-winning team. That meant the 18-year-old, who was born in Slake Lake, Alta., but moved to Sorel, Que., at age two with his mother Annie, a school teacher. So he cheered for Edmonton in '12 instead of Shawinigan.

    "All my family from Quebec was there and they were cheering for the Oil Kings," the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Aubé-Kubel says. "I was cheering for the Oil Kings and now I’m here against them.

    "It was special seeing my parents cheer for me [Tuesday]," the right wing added. "My dad, Douglas, he was Oil King proud, now he's a Foreur proud."

    Read More »from Foreurs’ Nicolas Aube-Kubel goes from cheering for Edmonton, to beating them at Memorial Cup
  • Moroz and the Oil Kings lost in double OT on Tuesday (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — Pro tip: hold off running with that The Curse of Chris Bruton column until the Edmonton Oil Kings have their date with destiny.

    Rationality would agree with Billy Ray Cyrus character in Friday Night Lights — "ain't no curses" — but one has to wonder at how the Oil Kings ended up in their current fix. There was Mads Eller's clearing attempt last Saturday that ricocheted into the net off the leg of Guelph's Kerby Rychel; Edmonton never scored again. On Tuesday, there was a triptych of terrible puck luck. The pass that hit a broken stick and put Val-d'Or's Pierre-Maxime Poudrier off to the races for a second-period shorty. An apparent missed icing that could have halted the play for the tying Foreurs goal. Lastly, Brett Pollock hit the crossbar in the second minute of the first overtime, and a puck skipped by Griffin Reinhart in the second OT to put Anthony Richard on a breakaway for the winner.

    Since the Memorial Cup is all about opportunism, this is the point where one mentions no Western Hockey League team has won since this happened.

    Read More »from Oil Kings hope ‘gross’ goals are behind them, as WHL champs need more puck luck
  • Bauman will be replaced in Guelph's lineup by Marc Stevens (OHL Images)

    LONDON, Ont. — It wasn't reckless or dangerous, but Chadd Bauman's knee-on-knee contact with Val-d'Or defenceman Guillaume Gélinas was caused by carelessness.

    While Gélinas is trying to heal in time to play in Friday's semifinal, Bauman has been suspended for Sunday's final. It's a pretty easy call for the Canadian Hockey League. The onus is on the forechecking player to adapt to the puck carrier's sudden movement, and as Guelph Mercury beat writer Tony Saxon pointed out: "The quick defenceman made an evasive move, Bauman couldn't adjust quickly enough."

    Read More »from Guelph’s Chadd Bauman suspended for Memorial Cup final