August 16, 2011
The Montreal Canadiens can no longer be called the Flying Frenchmen, but the spirit of les glorieux of yore is still alive in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Q often takes a backseat to its two counterparts to the west in terms of how many players it has drafted by the NHL or taken for Team Canada come world junior time, but it's second to none in boasting players who can bring fans to their feet, be they Quebecers, Martimers or European.
In homage to that, as part of our CHL Countdown — 23 days until opening puck drop, meaning we'll have to double up a few times to get caught up — here are five great goals from the QMJHL last season. As a personal blogging challenge, we're doing this without including shootout goals, or overly focusing on the Saint John Sea Dogs.
This list would be incomplete without some love for Tommy Toe Drag, as he was christened while helping the Sea Dogs win Atlantic Canada's first MasterCard Memorial Cup. The high second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings has chafed at being known primarily for his tricky stick ("I am not a clown"), so we'll include a goal that was just pure hustle. Against rival Moncton in February, Jurco laid out like a wide receiver to finish off a play on the rush.
This, of course, means the Sea Dogs need to introduce the Slovak to North American football this season.
4. Michaël Bournival, Shawinigan Cataractes (Feb. 18 vs. Moncton Wildcats)
Here's evidence of why the Montreal Canadiens added Bournival in last season's Ryan O'Byrne trade. The centre left Moncton defenceman Charles Johnson with a case of wind burn as he blew by him for a breakaway goal. It was part of a hat-trick effort for Bournival, who's a candidate for Team Canada.
3. Denis Kindl, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (March 13 vs. Saint John Sea Dogs)
Kindl channeled his Chicago Blackhawks namesake of yesteryear — Denis Savard — in going nearly end-to-end to make the eventual Memorial Cup champs look like the Washington Generals on skates. The camera work doesn't do it justice, but the move he put on forechecking Sea Dogs captain Mike Thomas at his own blueline was almost worth a mention on its own.
2. Xavier Ouellet, Montreal Juniors (Jan. 29 vs. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)
What is it with Detroit Red Wings draft picks making this list? It can be reliably assumed the Wings do more scouting than scour YouTube for great goals by draft-eligible players. Ouellet
1. Marek Hrivik, Moncton Wildcats (March 1 vs. Montreal Juniors)
The Slovak forward was a prime-time player. In a nationally televised game against the Montreal Juniors, Hrivik pulled off an inside-out move on a defender and went shelf on Los Angeles Kings goalie prospect Jean-François Bérubé to help the 'Cats pull off a road win. Small wonder Moncton fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Hrivik might return as an overage player.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: Telus, QMJHL).