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  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    How often are the respective captains in a playoff series first-round picks of the same NHL team? Edmonton's Griffin Reinhart and Brandon's Ryan Pulock could one day be teammates with the New York Islanders, if that's what the team will still be called. (Edmonton Journal)

    Okay, after Curtis Lazar, who's the player to watch in the Eastern half of the playoff docket? (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

    Will the Kelowna-Seattle winner have anything left by the time it moves on to the Western final, possibly against Portland? Meantime, Rockets star Madison Bowey has signed on with the Washington Capitals. (Kelowna Daily Courier, Seattle Times)

    First Portland conquered B.C.'s Lower Mainland, now it's targeting Vancouver Island. (The Oregonian)

    League scoring champ Mitch Holmberg has inked an AHL pact with the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers' farm club. (Edmonton Journal)

    The Calgary Hitmen are okay with having sacrificed a high pick for what only be a half-season's work from New York Rangers pick Adam Tambellini, who was rather prolific. (Calgary Sun)

    OHL

    London overage defenceman Zach Bell (broken fibula) could return in time for the Memorial Cup. Meantime, veteran Brett Welychka has changed into his defenceman costume. (London Free Press)

    Old-school hockey folks decried Peterborough's Josh Maguire receiving a five-game ban for what the OHL calls a "bullying action," but Kingston GM Doug Gilmour isn't in that crowd after it affected one of his players: "You are supposed to protect your best players (but) that is not by going out and bullying people (and) having somebody else, in the old days, ‘take care of it.’ They are supposed to get rid of that stuff." (Kingston Whig-Standard)

    Read More »from 2015 Memorial Cup decision comes down today: the coast-to-coast
  • Drummondville's Louis-Philip Guindon will have to be a major player if the Volts hope to knock off the Val-d'Or Foreurs. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)Drummondville's Louis-Philip Guindon will have to be a major player if the Volts hope to knock off the Val-d'Or Foreurs. (Ghyslain Bergeron / CP)

    And now the real action begins.

    The QMJHL's first round, other than one upset, was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. Many games were not close, and many series were not close. Only the Armada, who beat the Wildcats in six games, couldn’t finish off their opponent in five or less.

    This round will be much closer, and a much higher level of hockey. The second round also brings our first predicted upset of the QMJHL playoffs, even if the odds disagree.

    (1) Baie-Comeau Drakkar (47-16-2-3, 99 pts.) vs. (10) Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (35-28-3-2, 75 pts.)

    Season series: Baie-Comeau (3-0) Odds favour: Baie-Comeau – 71% Most mathematically likely outcome: Baie-Comeau in 6 Prediction: Baie-Comeau in 5

    Why the Drakkar should win: The top seed will need to take advantage of a PK that was ravaged by a tough Quebec offence. The Remparts scored 10 power-play goals in 18 opportunities, including 5-of-6 in Game 2. The Huskies still won, easily, but their penalty kill did

    Read More »from Could the Voltigeurs knock off the Foreurs? QMJHL second-round preview
  • The Buzzing The Net CHL Chatravaganza is back on Thursday at 12 noon ET/1 p.m. AT/9 a.m. PT.

    Please join Cam Charron, Neate Sager, Mike Sanderson and a cast of many for the blogetariat's most wide-ranging approximately one-hour-long weekly discussion dedicated to all things junior hockey. The second round of the playoffs is getting underway and the first included two tremendous comebacks, while the OHL draft is also fewer than 48 hours away. That ought to be enough to play a full 60 minutes.

    The Chatravaganza is BYOP — bring your own peanuts.

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    Read More »from Buzzing The Net CHL Chatravaganza, Thursday 12 noon ET/9 a.m. PT!
  • Brendan Gaunce had two assists in Erie's win on Wednesday (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    Former Belleville Bulls factored into all Erie Otters scoring, as the tricolor won 3-1 at Sault Ste. Marie to nab the first game of the OHL quarter-finals. On with the post-game questions.

    Read More »from Otters nab Game 1 on road vs. Greyhounds: OHL post-game questions
  • Fabbri was injured on March 21 (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    Like the Kentucky Wildcats reaching the Final Four after starting the NCAA Tournament as an 8 seed, the underdog label doesn't really fit the London Knights.

    It's irresistible Guelph vs. immovable London in a league championship-calibre second-round matchup that could shape how the Knights go into the Memorial Cup on their home ice in mid-May. The Storm franchise's best team in a decade, which should have 45-goal scorer Robby Fabbri back from a two-week absence, comes in having received a bigger push in the first round while also having a healthier lineup than a team which is drawn down defensively.

    The Erie-Sault Ste. Marie matchup could be called the Snub-way Series, to play on Otters and Greyhounds captains Connor Brown and Darnell Nurse not getting the call from Team Canada in December for the world junior championship. (It's also a chance to make light of the exceptional travel distance, by OHL standards, between the cities.)

    The 'Hounds and Otters got underway Wednesday, with the London-Guelph matchup commencing Friday. Don't ask why arguably the league's two best teams are starting a series on April 4 and a 95-point team has home-ice advantage against the 106-point club. That's considered OHL logic.

    Read More »from Knights-Storm, Otters-’Hounds each too close to call: OHL Western Conference second-round preview
  • Hunter Garlent celebrates his second-period tying goal for Peterborough on Tuesday (Mike Carroccetto for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    KINGSTON, Ont. — Playing in the second round of the playoffs for the first time is helping Hunter Garlent and his mum, Nikki, keep from being overtaken by the sudden void in their lives.

    There is no one way to work through the grief at the loss of a loved one, as the Peterborough Petes centre did five weeks ago Wednesday when his 48-year-old father, Rob Garlent, passed away. In the aftermath of that, Garlent rejoined the Petes to provide them with some classic crafty centre-ice work during their four-game comeback to oust the Kingston Frontenacs. The 19-year-old pivot whom Peterborough paid big to acquire from the loaded Guelph Storm in January came through with seven points in as many games in a tight series, including the Game 6 late third-period winner and Peterborough's lone regulation goal in the 2-1 Game 7 overtime win. Having his season stretch farther in April means an escape.

    "Coming back to the rink has made it easier," said the 5-foot-9, 173-pound Garlent, who was passed over in the 2013 NHL draft after his second OHL season with Guelph. "It's been helpful. When you’re at the rink, you’re doing what you love. My mom, she's been there for me since I started skating when I was two, three years old. Right now she’s smiling and remembers all the good memories when my dad was there, sitting over in the corner."

    Read More »from Peterborough Petes’ Hunter Garlent galvanized after father’s passing: ‘Every shift that I play, it’s for him’
  • D'Agostini made 39 saves for Peterborough (Mike Carroccetto for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    KINGSTON, Ont. — The D'Agger was plunged into the Kingston Frontenacs' heart.

    Since the Peterborough Petes overcame a 3-0 series deficit at the expense of the Fronts, it fits with whatever people want to intimate about Kingston. Perhaps there's another major junior team, although it's tough at the moment to find an example, that can torment its fans as much as the Frontenacs did. It scored on its first shot of the game before Andrew D'Agostini shut them down for the next 71 minutes, making 39 saves in the Petes' 2-1 OT win.

    "They threw everything they had at us," said D'Agostini, whose Petes will face Oshawa in the Eastern Conference semifinal beginning Friday. "They’re a helluva team and they stuck it to us all season [winning 5-of-6 in the season series]. We knew what we were up against. It was intimidating, I’m not going to lie. You look at the scores. But we believed. That’s the word. We had faith. It has nothing to do with them choking."

    The pair of 2-1 results, with North Bay getting by Niagara, closes out Round 1. On with the post-game questions:

    Read More »from Kingston Frontenacs’ drought extended with Game 7 OT loss as Petes, Battalion advance: OHL post-game questions
  • Nick Ritchie is mobbed after scoring the OT winner on Tuesday (Mike Carroccetto for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    KINGSTON, Ont. — Sports is not real life, it's just fantasy. The Peterborough Petes have experienced the extreme end of each, mourning the loss of a member of their extended family before becoming the fourth OHL team to overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit.

    Held together by Andrew D'Agostini, who faced at least 40 shots in six of the series' seven games, the Petes beat the Kingston Frontenacs 2-1 on a Nick Ritchie goal 12:17 deep into overtime to complete their comeback. So regrouping for the next round against the Oshawa Generals can wait while the Petes savour how they pulled together after centre Hunter Garlent's father, Rob, died at age 48 on Feb. 26.

    The day after Rob Garlent's death, the Petes began a six-game win streak that included beating Memorial Cup host London while Hunter Garlent was absent. That put them in the right mode to never, ever give up against Kingston, who it did not beat in regulation time during the regular season. A team that wins in seven has 20 heroes, but Garlent was everywhere on the ice, creating countless chances and helping kill penalties, including the one OT hero-to-be Ritchie, a likely NHL first-rounder, took in the offensive zone with 2:02 left in a deadlocked game.

    "I can’t explain the feeling right now, I just know not only when Hunter’s dad passed away but even when Hunter joined the team, he brought the team together," said D'Agostini, who made his 285th stop of the series just moments before Ritchie ended it in front of 5,388 fans at the K-Rock Centre. "That’s just his character. You could see things pick up a notch after he [Rob Garlent] did pass away.

    "We were playing for an extra something. I think it was that weekend [after Rob Garlent's passing]. It was a character-building weekend with him out of the lineup and we took down some great teams. Having him back, we turned it up. As for this series, I can’t explain the feeling until I process it. We all believed. After every loss we knew we’d be okay."

    Ritchie's fifth goal of the series — "I just kind of spun around and shot and it got a piece of the defenceman and went over the pad, it doesn’t matter how it goes in" — ended a riveting, rough-around-the-edges series between two angst-ridden fanbases. It sets up Peterborough-Oshawa and Barrie-North Bay second-round series in the Eastern half of the OHL post-season.

    'Definitely had someone helping us'

    The Petes came into this season having missed the playoffs three years in a row and facing calls for a change to the franchise's structure. The loss means the Frontenacs are 0-for-the-2000s at winning playoff series.

    "It’s unbelievable considering what we've gone through over the last three years," second-year Petes GM Mike Oke said. "I can’t even describe it without getting emotional because Hunter, his father, it really hit us hard. We rallied around him. We definitely had someone helping us. It’s unbelievable how much these guys care for each other."

    Read More »from Peterborough Petes become 4th OHL team to surmount 3-0 series deficit, rallying around Hunter Garlent
  • Leo Lazarev relocated from Moscow to southwest Ontario (GOJHL.ca photo)Of all the subplots to Saturday's Ontario Hockey League, few are more intriguing than seeing which team will take the plunge on Waterloo Siskins goalie Leo Lazarev. While many teens have gone to the length of migrating to North America while still in minor hockey — such as Sarnia Sting centre Nikita Korostelev — Lazarev will be the first to do so since he's ineligible for the CHL import draft due to the embargo on selecting European goalies.

    Lazarev has a had a boffo first season with the Waterloo (Ont.) Siskins. The 16-year-old captured conference rookie-of-the-year honours in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, a very competitive Junior B league where some late bloomers (the Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele for one), have blossomed during their age-16 seasons. The Moscow native has also helped Waterloo reach the GOJHL conference final against the Stratford Cullitons. As Josh Brown reported, now that Lazarev has 'naturalized' by establishing residency, he's good to be drafted on Saturday.

    Read More »from Russian goalie Leo Lazarev finds way around CHL’s European goalie embargo, is eligible for OHL draft
  • Kootenay forward Jaedon Descheneau's four points gives him 82 on the season, enough for fifth place in WHL scoring. (CP / Larry MacDougal)Jaedon Deschenau's 98-point season has put him on the NHL draft map. (CP / Larry MacDougal)

    After being passed over in last year's NHL draft despite posting 30 goals and 78 points, Kootenay Ice winger Jaedon Descheneau came into his 18-year-old season with ample motivation to prove his doubters wrong.

    “It was very disappointing to not get picked in the draft,” says Descheneau, who turned 19-years-old in February. “It wasn’t for sure that I’d get drafted, but I knew there was a chance and I was hoping I would. It was tough to take at the time, but I knew I’d get more chances in the future to get drafted or sign a contract. It gave me some extra motivation this year to take what I did last year and just improve on it and show that I deserve a shot from a (NHL) team.”

    Suffice to say, if Descheneau’s 44 goals and 98 points in the regular-season didn’t garner the attention of some NHL scouts, his outstanding first-round playoff showing should have done the trick. He almost averaged three-points per game with seven goals and 17 points throughout the six-game series against the

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Jaedon Descheneau, Kootenay Ice

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