Archive for September, 2008

The New Rules Popped Up at the ABC

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2008 by Nathan Fournier

Last night the new rules came to play early on.  It was tough for me to tell on the kneeing call on Danick Paquette because I watched the game on Telus.  Just reading the thoughts from Maineiacs fans and Ed Harding, they didn’t like the call.  Fans say it was incidental contact, even though Paquette was looking to check the guy.

What has me wandering is why did David Savard get the game misconduct?  All he did was defend a teammate.  Coming into the game he just had 46 career penalty minutes.  This is his third season.  He’ll be suspended now because instigated a fight which shouldn’t been called because of the player that he dropped the gloves with.  Danick knew a Moncton player would come to the defense of Matt Eagles.

Hopefully the QMJHL smartens up soon because these rules will hurt them in the long run.  The Rimouski Oceanic and the second QMJHL club will be at a serious disadvantage at the Memorial Cup.  I watched the highlights of the Windsor Spitfires-London Knights game from last night.  They both have heavyweights that will drop the gloves.  Both teams could be in Rimouski to represent the Ontario Hockey League.  The Western Hockey League prides itself on physical play.

Onto the game itself, Nicola Riopel is a very good goalie.  He’s showing why he was a first round selection in the 2005 QMJHL Draft.  It has taken a couple of seasons to get this point but in his defense, he was on some weak teams.  Last year he was pretty good on a team that only won 21 games.

Moncton’s powerplay looked very good last night.  They know how to move the puck around.  In the first period, I thought Brandon Gormley was a little tentative on shooting the puck.  He made the safe play by passing the puck to a teammate.  When he did fire the puck, it came out of a cannon.  He will be a good one for the next few years in the QMJHL.

Lewiston is still is rusty on the offense.  Right now there’s no go to guy that they can count on.  Maybe that will change when Maxime Gratchev returns from New York Islanders camp.  Still this team will need someone else also.  Will it be Danick Paquette?  Who knows because the way Paquette plays.  You don’t to put the pressure on the young guys right away.

How about the special teams?  The penalty kill looked good in the first but the Wildcats had a field day when the Maineiacs went down two men.  Tom Michalik took a stupid penalty and Sean Stagles also committed a penalty.  That turned the game around.  What if one penalty was called?  It would be a different game and I believe it wouldn’t take the wind out of the Maineiacs sails.

It will be interesting how this team bounces back on Sunday against the Victoriaville Tigres.

Surprises So Far

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2008 by Nathan Fournier

(Last Night I was a guest on The Pipeline Show to preview the QMJHL Season.  Here’s the interview.

Well we’re through two weekends in the QMJHL season and there have been some surprises so far.  Even though many of the teams are still missing players but did anyone expect the Moncton Wildcats, the Drummondville Voltigeurs or the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to be undefeated?  Another surprise is Samson Mahbod of Drummondville having ten points already when his career high is 23 points.

I expect the Moncton Wildcats to be good and be a team that will be on the verge of making the playoffs in March.   They had no problem defeating the Prince Edward Island Rocket 8-2 in their opening game and defeating Val d’Or 7-2.  They already have 21 goals in four games and last year they only scored 191 goals last year.  Ted Stephens and Scott Brannon both have eight points to lead the team.  It should be interesting how this team does when they come to town on Friday.

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles could be a team to watch out.  They are off to that scorching start by winning their first five games.  I am not surprised they haven’t lost but how long will this last?  You look at their roster, no one really stands out.  Will they be buyers come the winter trade period?  They have three standout twenty-year-olds but after that it’s up in the air.  This team will need to jump on the back of Olivier Roy who has played fabulous in net.  He’s 4-0, with a 2.51 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.

The real surprise has been the Drummondville Voltigeurs.  This team has acquired some talent through trades and the Import Draft.  Samson Mahbod has been on a few teams in this league.  He already has ten points including six goals.  His career high is 23 points last season with the Voltigeurs.  How about rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov who has stepped right in and has two goals and five assists.  Dany Masse and Yannick Riendeau are also off to a hot start.  The only question is will the goaltending hold up.  Antoine Tardif’s goals against average is pretty good but his save percentage is very low at .873.  If the offense has a night off, can they rely on their goaltending?

Another team that wasn’t suppose to contend this season is the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.  They have recorded a point in every game so far.  Their record is 3-0-1-0.  The leaders have been their twenty-year-olds Tomy Joly and Spencer Jezegou who each have five points.  The offense hasn’t been lighting it up but Nicolas Champion has been lights out in goal.  He has the Titan three wins, allowing only 1.74 goals per game and stopping .937 save percentage.

It’s only been two weeks but the season has already seen surprises.  Two weeks from now, Quebec, Rimouski, Saint John, and Shawinigan will off and running when their top players from NHL training camps.   Columbus Day will be a good indicator where these teams really stand.

That’s My Take

(Nathan also started “The World of Junior Hockey Blog” and is a contributor to the Maine Hockey Journal His email is fourniern@students.nescom.edu.)

MAINEiacs Split Home Opening Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by Mike Haggett
Ron Morin / Rons Sports Photography Photo

Ron Morin / Ron's Sports Photography Photo

Alright, going to date myself here. Let’s take a trip back in the time machine when you could get your hands on and old record player that played albums. Do you remember the old Crossley’s or perhaps an RCA Victor model that your whacked out Jeff Spicoli-esque neighbor had and figured out how to play records in reverse? For those that remember, lay back and smile. For the rest of you Generation X’ers, Google it.

If you could take Friday night and reverse it on Saturday night, it went from the scrambled up forward intro to the Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Fire On High’, to the decipherable, played-backwards verison where it says “The music is reversable but time is not. Turn back, turn back, turn back.” 

Where heart, determination and pride checked out of the game Friday night, those qualities were re-inserted into the lineup on Saturday, and a big reason why the score went upside down in favor of the home team. Friday night could have been nerves, but credit needs to be given where it is due and the boys played Saturday night like the meant it, and by doing so, they won.

Tip of the keyboard must go to rookie Philip Wright for his fine effort Saturday evening, but I don’t want to slight Jonathan Connely’s effort Friday night. The MAINEiacs defensively played a much more sound game Saturday than Friday, and frankly I don’t think it would have mattered who was in net. Wright got some help from Mr. Post a couple times, plus an unenthused Shawinigan team looked like they were content with a split by the begining of period two.

Shawinigan may have more talent than Lewiston on paper, with or without who is missing at NHL camps, but the one thing that has dogged the Cataractes for 40 years now is heart. Lewiston was able to exploit the slower Shawinigan D on several occasions when they had their heads in the game, and created some fine opportunities for themselves. The MAINEiacs really need to do a better job of working and holding onto the puck down low and creating chances within 20 feet of the goal line. This will improve, but I am curious to see who is going to be the one who will consistently pay the price and be rewarded for doing so. The perimeter shooting is great if you’re playing a carnival game at the county fair, but it won’t win too many hockey games.

Pluses on the weekend include that of the effort of Lucas Labelle on Friday night in the loss; Etienne Brodeur’s +3, two assists, and misfortune of getting tossed for a boarding call that needs to be filed under tough luck as the Cats Tommy Tremblay really needs to stop watching Patrice Bergeron hockey training videos; Eric Gelinas steady +3 on Saturday and solid play both nights, blocking shots, doing the little things; Pier-Olivier Morin wearing the #19 and living up to the efforts of his predecessors who wore it; Matt Bourdeau who on the laser of a shot on the MAINEiacs 4th goal looked like the player that we we’re told he could be; Billy ‘The Kid’ Lacasse, and MAINEiacs voice Alex Reed’s fave to call Marc Bourgeios for their fine efforts on Saturday. Best energy line in the league, right there; and Welcome to Lewiston, Michael Chaput on his first goal of his QMJHL career and first of many.

If Lewiston can put in the kind of effort they did Saturday on a regular basis, this team is going to win it’s share of hockey games.

Home Opener ’08 Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2008 by Mike Haggett

Before I get into the game, I just want to say how great it is to be back to the rink. I’ll get into that later on next week as a wrap on the weekend, but the people that are affiliated with this club from the front office, to the arena staff, as well as the fans, are the best. Nothing like coming home.

As official scorer Jim Anderschat was handing out line sheets in the press box last night, looking up and down the list didn’t prove the obvious by the end of the game: pride, heart and determination were healthy scratches for two-thirds of the game.

Sure, the first 15 minutes of period one was very well played by the young MAINEiacs as they came out strong, got some quality chances on an early power play, and controlled the flow. Tom Michalik’s blast from the point followed with an ensuing scrum in front of the net as Mr. Heart Lucas Labelle’s stick connected on play and made it 1-0 Lewiston. Then defensive corps vets Michael Ward and Patrick Cusack found themselves in the penalty box together and the youthful group showed strength again, killing off 1:25 of a two man advantage which earned the cheer of the faithful at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. What should have been a lift for the club, slowly started to errode the team instead. Fresh off the plane from Dallas, Pierre-Alexander Vandall connected on a power-play goal on a post-to-post play just :12 into a penalty to Matt Bourdeau and tied the game for the Cataractes, and the momentum started to shift. A five minute major and a game misconduct for slew-footing to Maxime Legault of the Cataractes to open the second period, as well as a complete 2 minute two man advantage in the middle of that major yielded nothing.

If anyone told me that Lucas Labelle would have three goals in three games for the Lewiston MAINEiacs, I would have snickered very sarcastically. Truth be known, Labelle really was the only player to show up to make things happen Friday night. The Scarborough, Ontario native who has bounced around two junior leagues has found a real home here, because he does the things that matter in this game: relentless battle, determination to get the job done, and a desire to win. Of all the MAINEiacs players that went to bed Friday night, only one could look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, I gave it all I had.”

For the rest, one hopes that Lewiston Head Coach & GM Ed Harding sent them home with a mandate to find their hearts, because they need to find them. The talent is here, but even the best talent is useless with the heart, pride, and determination to go with it.

I don’t want to hear that excuse of ‘Well, we don’t have Gratchev, Paquette, Reul or Delmas.” That doesn’t fly with me. Every team in the league more or less is contending with key guys away to pro camps right now. Shawinigan is without most of it’s top guns as well. It’s a push, more or less, and it all boils down to who wants in more, and who is willing to make the sacrifice and pay the price for victory.

We’ll see tonight.

offthepost@lewistonhockey.com

League Preview: The Atlantic Division

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 17, 2008 by Nathan Fournier

There’s not much sizzle in the Atlantic Division this season. The Saint John Sea Dogs looks like the team to beat in the East. They basically have the same team as they had last year. Just like a few years ago when the Gatineau Olympiques found Claude Giroux, the Sea Dogs have found their own player from Ontario. Chris DiDomenico had 95 points including 38 goals last season. They have three former 1st overall picks on defense. The biggest question mark is their goaltending

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles look like the biggest threat to the Sea Dogs this season. All eyes will be on Olivier Roy this season as he tries to become the first goalie taking in the NHL Draft this year. Offensively they will be relying on their twenty-year-olds. Who knows what this team can do. Last season, they surprised everyone when they finished fourth in the Eastern Division.

The Prince Edward Island Rocket looks to make a strong push this season. They acquired Bobby Nadeau, a twenty-year-old goaltender. In the Import Draft, they selected Swedish forward Simon Olsson. They also have Chris Doyle, a sniper that should have a breakout year.

A team that could play the role of spoiler this season is the Moncton Wildcats. They could have the best defense in the entire league. Returning is Mark Barberio but the first year players will be able to step in right away. First round pick, Brandon Gormley looks like a good one, New Hampshire native Paul Dimitruk should have a solid year, but the wildcard will be Vjateslav Voinov. He has been playing against man in the old Russian Super League the last two seasons. He will head to Los Angeles Kings training camp and from there, it will be the King decision if he’s ready for the pros or Moncton for more seasoning.

Don’t expect the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to do much this season. Mathieu Perrault has moved onto the professional ranks. Tomas Svoboda has also moved onto the professional game. Eric Faille will be the go to guy this season for the Titan.

It looks like the Halifax Mooseheads will start from the bottom and work their way back to the top. That could take a few years. Brad Marchand and Andrew Bodnarchuk will most likely be with the Providence Bruins this season. Bryce Swan has also moved on. Don’t be surprised if Logan MacMillan gets traded during the winter trade period.

Saint John Sea Dogs

2007-2008 Season: 41-22-4-3 (2nd in the Eastern Division)

Off-Season Additions: Dillen Theriault (From Shawinigan)

Off-Season Subtractions: Scott McDonald (To Halifax), Brett Gallant (To Lewiston)

Players that Aged Out: Alexander Picard-Hooper and Scott Howes

The offense will go through Chris DiDomenico. He might not be a flashy goal scorer but he knows how to put the points up. Ryan Sparling should have a good year as one of the twenty year olds on the team. Another veteran that should have a good year is Payton Liske. He had 43 points last year but his production should jump. The wildcard is Steven Anthony. He didn’t see much ice time last year but he has talent. Is he willing to work? That’s another question that will have to be answered.

The defense should be set with three former 1st overall selections on the roster. Alex Grant provides the offense with 15 goals and 33 assists. Yann Sauve is the defensive defenseman with 6 goals, 15 assists, 21 points and 96 penalty minutes. Simon Despres is coming into his sophomore campaign where he had a goal and 13 assists in his rookie year.

With Travis Fullerton gone, Robert Mayer will need bounce back from a bad year. The Switzerland native was a highly regarded two years ago. Maybe with a season under his belt he will have a good year. I was surprised to see the Sea Dogs not go for an insurance policy in net for this season. Their back-up looks to be Troy Passingham.

Prediction: 1st in the Atlantic

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

2007-2008 Season: 40-24-3-3 (4th in the East)

Off-Season Additions: Michael Stinziani (From Gatineau), Logan Shaw (1st Round Selection), and Artem Demkov (Import Selection)

Off-Season Subtractions: Alex Lamontagne (To Gatineau), Marek Benda (To Baie-Comeau), and Neil Sherren (To Montreal)

Players that Aged Out: Dean Ouellet and Jordan Clendenning

The Screaming Eagles have three talented overagers in Chris Culligan, Robert Slaney, and Joey Haddad. Culligan had 19 goals and 49 assists. Slaney had 55 points including 26 goals. Haddad had 31 goals and a total of 62 points. Nick McNeil should provide some secondary scoring. He had 23 goals last season. Logan Shaw could have an impact this season.

On defense, they don’t have that proven offensive defenseman, as they did last year with Alex Lemontagne. Spencer Corcoran had 15 points last season. Mathieu Brodeur, a Phoenix Coyotes draft pick, had a goal and six assists last year. Who will step up as that number one defenseman?

Cape Breton doesn’t need the defense like Saint John has because they have Olivier Roy in net. Last season he had 27 wins and 14 losses, with a 2.87 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. Chris Holden will be the back up.

Prediction: 2nd in the Atlantic

Prince Edward Island Rocket

2007-2008 Season: 30-36-2-2 (7th in the East)

Off-Season Additions: Bobby Nadeau (From Chicoutimi), Maxime Provencher (From Chicoutimi), Louis-Philippe Lacroix (From Quebec) Ben Duffy (1st Round Selection), and Simon Olsson (Import Selection)

Off-Season Subtractions: Marc-Antoine Gelinas (To Gatineau) and Jan Kana (To Europe)

Players that Aged Out: Geoff Walker, Jason Swit, Brad Gallant, and Martin Latal

The offense will go through Chris Doyle and Simon Olsson. Doyle had 63 points last year. He had 27 goals also last season. He will need to step up his game for this team to have success. Olsson is a playmaking forward. Expect him to have a good season as a 19-year-old first year player. Matthew Lachaine should be a great secondary option as he had 20 goals and 46 total points. It’s a tough loss that Jan Kana has headed back to the Czech Republic.

Defensively Maxime Provencher will step right in. Last year with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, he only had 10 points but he will be a key leader. Dylan Quaile should also have a very good year. Between the Rocket and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, he had 9 goals and 17 assists. They also acquired young defensemen last season to play a bigger role this season.

Bobby Nadeau is a solid pick-up by the Rocket. Last season he was 19-21 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. He could steal a few games for Prince Edward Island. Evan Mosher will be the back-up.

Prediction: 3rd in the Atlantic

Moncton Wildcats

2007-2008 Season: 21-34-5-10 (8th in the East)

Off-Season Additions: Brandon Gormley (1st round pick), Louis Boileau-Domingue (1st Round Pick), Alexander Fomin (Import Selection) and Vyateslav Voinov (Import Section)

Off-Season Subtractions: Charles Lavigne (To Quebec), Alexi Pianosi (To Victoriaville), and Matt Brenton (To Montreal)

Players that Aged Out: Chris Morehouse

Two young guys need to step up this season. Matt Brown and Devon MacAusland didn’t put the points up last year. Both of them are a year older comes more responsibilities. Jesse Biduke could be a key contributor this season. They need to get the offense going. Zach Sill will be a secondary scoring option as a 20-year-old. This team won’t be a run and shoot team and will just get by offensively.

Defense is their strong suit. Mark Barberio is coming back as the leading scorer on the blue line. He had 12 goals and 37 assists last year. Brandon Gormley is an offensive defenseman. He will be able to step right in and contribute. The Moncton Wildcats are hoping that the Kings send Voinov down to Moncton. If he does show up, he should be able to jump in on the number one defensive pairing.

In net, they have veteran Nicola Riopel who had a 15-19-10 record with a 3.04 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He showed he can keep this team in it last season. He will need to do the same again this season. Louis Boileau-Domingue was the first goalie taking in the draft this past summer. He will be the back-up and should be the starter next season.

Prediction: 4th in the Atlantic

Acadie-Bathurst Titan

2007-2008 Season: 41-25-2-2 (3rd in the East)

Off-Season Additions: Charles Vouligny (From Drummondville), Paul Dorsey (From Victoriaville), Jonathan Lessard (From Drummondville), Radek Vlasanek (From Drummondville), Joel Senecal (From Val d’Or), Vincent Arseneau (1st Round Selection), Stefan Fournier (First Round Selection), and Radovan Pulis (Import Selection)

Off-Season Subtractions: Antoine Tardif (To Drummondville), Dany Masse (To Drummondville), and Kyle McNeil (To Val d’Or)

Players that Aged Out: Mathieu Perreault, Tomas Svoboda, Jonathan Laberge, and Ryan Graham

The offense is losing a lot of firepower from last season after losing three of their top four scorers. Tomy Joly is coming back and he had 79 points last year. The question with him is will he be around for the entire season? Chances are high that he will be traded by Christmas. Eric Faille will need to step up and provide the goal scoring for this team.

Defensively Drew Paris is an offensive defenseman. Last year he had 55 points between Drummondville and Acadie-Bathurst. Will he be on his way out this season also? He will be a player that contending teams will keep an eye out. Maxime Renaud looks like another solid defenseman. He had 26 points last season.

Nicolas Champion will be between the pipes for the Titan this season. Last year he had 25 wins and 11 losses. His goals against average was 2.98 and he had a .894 save percentage. It will be interesting if he can keep his goals against average the same or lower and face more shots then he did last year?

Prediction: 5th in the Atlantic

Halifax Mooseheads

2007-2008 Season: 42-23-0-5 (1st in the East)

Off-Season Additions: Scott MacDonald (From Saint John), Linden Bahm (From Shawinigan),

Off-Season Subtractions: David Bouchard (To Chicoutimi) and Guillaume Monast (To Quebec)

Players that Aged Out: Peter-James Corsi (ECHL), Ryan Hillier, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brad Marchand, Bryce Swan, Colby Pridham and Pier-Olivier Pelletier

At least they still have Jakub Voracek for the time being. Voracek could stick with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. If he’s sent back it will be a bidding war for his services. Since he’s European, he can be moved at any point of the season until the trade deadline. Don’t expect him to stay in Halifax this season. Logan MacMillan will also need to step up after a year where he was suffered from fatigue. If he does bounce back, is his days numbered in Halifax? Tomas Knotek will most likely lead this team offensively this season. I like Travis Randell to have a good year.

With the graduation of Andrew Bodnarchuk, Justin Pender and Graham Bona will be the defensive leaders on the team. They also have young guys like Richard Greer and Gabriel O’Connor that will need to grow as defensemen.

In the cage, Mark Yetman will be the number one goalie. He was the back-up last season he had 16-8 record with a 3.12 goals against average and a .891 save percentage. Backing him up this season is Mathieu Corbeil-Thériault.

Prediction: 6th in the Atlantic

That’s My Take

(Nathan also started “The World of Junior Hockey Blog” and is a contributor to the Maine Hockey Journal His email is fourniern@students.nescom.edu.)

League Preview: The Telus West

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 12, 2008 by Nathan Fournier

The Telus West Division has the Gatineau Olympiques, they won the President’s Cup last season over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Huskies are also in the Telus West. Don’t expect both teams to be as good as last season. The Olympiques will be without Claude Giroux who has moved on and could be in the NHL this season with the Philadelphia Flyers. They still have Paul Byron who was very good in the 2008 playoffs. How will they do without Head Coach Benoit Groulx? He just left before training camp to join the Rochester Americans of the AHLt o be their head coach.

The Huskies have been trading away talent this summer and it looks like they’re looking towards the future. During training camp, they traded Yannick Riendeau to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. They have also traded goaltender Maxim Gougeon and defenseman Sébastien Piche to the Rimouski Oceanic.

Montreal Junior look like the team to beat in the Telus West this season. Even though some say they traded too much to acquire forward Angelo Esposito but pieces were added in both drafts to offset the cost of Esposito. With two solid goalies, they traded Timo Pielmeier because Jake Allen waiting in the wings. Hopefully the fans will come see the team play.

Val-d’Or is a team on the rise after a rebuilding year last season. They went to the President’s Cup Finals two years ago but were swept by the Lewiston MAINEiacs. The Foreurs started the rebuilding process last season at the December trade period where they traded Brad Marchand to the Halifax Mooseheads. Maxime Sauve came to Val-d’Or in the deal and he will an offensive force. They also got first round selections in the 2011 and 2012 Draft.

Montreal Junior

2007-2008 Season: 32-30-1-7 (6th in the Atlantic Division)

Off-Season Additions: Angelo Esposito (From Quebec), Vincent Bourgeois (From Quebec), Martin Beca (From Shawinigan), Will Johnson (From Shawinigan), Neil Sherren (From Cape Breton), Benjamin Rubin (From Gatineau), Matthew Brenton (From Moncton), Samuel Fortier (From Shawinigan), Guillaume Asselin (1st Round Pick), Dmitri Kostromitin (Import Selection), and Toni Ritter (Import Section)

Off-Season Subtractions: Jean-Simon Allard (To Quebec), Timo Pielmeier (To Shawinigan), Michael Roski (To Shawinigan), and Olivier Tremblay (To Baie-Comeau)

Players That Aged Out: Wesley Welcher, Phil Mangan, and Mathieu Labrie

Can Esposito have a rebound year? The last two seasons his point production has dropped. He has some talent around him. Luke Adam should have a breakout year. The Buffalo Sabres 2nd round selection in the 2008 Draft had 36 goals and 30 assists in the organization’s final year in St. John’s. Nick Layton should be apart of the offense. Guillaume Asselin had a great preseason with three goals.

T.J. Brennan has been a solid defenseman for the organization. He was a great sign out of their training camp two years ago. Brennan is an all-around defenseman that had 16 goals and 25 assists in 65 contests. Maxime Pomerleau put up some offensive numbers last year with 6 goals and 30 assists. Dmitri Kostromitin, one of their Import selections, is a defenseman. How will his game translate to the North American game?

Jake Allen will be the number one goaltender this season. His numbers don’t standout. He was 9-8-4, with a 3.03 goals against average, and a .905 save percentage. This team will be better and when he’s on a good team, his game steps up.

Prediction: 1st in the Telus West Division

Gatineau Olympiques

2007-2008 Season: 43-19-6-2 (3rd in the Telus Division)

Off-Season Additions: Alex Lamontagne (From Cape Breton), Marc-Antoine Gelinas (From PEI), Mitchell Porowski (From Drummondville), Yoan Pinette (1st Round Selction), and Jan Stransky (Import Selection)

Off-Season Subtractions: Benjamin Rubin (To Montreal), Michael Stinziani (Cape Breton), and Matthew Pistilli (To Shawinigan)

Players That Aged Out: David Lazenby, Ryan Mior, Joey Ryan, Darryl Smith, and Claude Giroux (NHL/AHL)

Paul Byron will be the offensive go to guy this season as Giroux has moved onto the professional ranks. Byron had 68 points including 37 goals in his sophomore year. He had 32 points during the playoffs including 21 goals. Who will be feeding him the puck? Jean-Philipp Chabot will have a bigger role this season as a 20-year-old. Someone else will have to step up for this team to go deep in the playoffs.

They do have a great defensive core. Steven Delisle and Maxime Mallette are coming back; Delisle had 29 points and Mallette had 26 points. The best of the bunch could be Herbert Labrie, he’s eligible for the 2009 NHL Draft. He was solid as rookie last year and should take on more responsibilities this season.

It will be tough to replace Ryan Mior in net. He was one of the best goalies in the league last year. The Gatineau Olympiques should be in good hands with Maxime Clermont taking over in net. He’s one of the best goalies for his age and will be draft eligible for the 2010 draft. The future looks bright in net for the Olympiques. If Clermont does struggle, they have brought in Marc-Antoine Gelinas as a veteran back-up.

Prediction: 2nd in the Telus West

Val-d’Or Foreurs

2007-2008 Season: 27-34-3-6 (8th in the Telus Division)

Off-Season Additions: Yan Bouchard (From Rouyn-Noranda), Jean-Daniel Turgeon (From Chicoutimi), Alexandre Monahan (From Victoriaville), Kyle McNeil, Samuel Morneau (Baie-Comeau), and Cédrick Henley (1st Round Selection),

Off-Season Subtractions: Francis Boulianne (To Chicoutimi), Paul Dorsey (To Victoriaville), Olivier Hinse (To Victoriaville) William Tremblay-Gratton (To Victoriaville), Jesse Cere (To Baie-Comeau), Tommy Samson (To Baie-Comeau), and Joel Senecal (To Acadie-Bathurst)

Players That Aged Out: Marc-Andre Cote, Samuel Richard, and Martin Thibeault

The Foreurs are a team on the rise but I believe they don’t have what it takes to be in second place in this division at the end of the year. Maxime Sauve will have a breakout year this season. He had 26 goals and 39 assists between the Val-d’Or Foreurs and the Quebec Remparts last season. Jonathan Hazen who was a 17-year-old rookie last season had 40 points. He could be the dark horse for this season offensively. They also brought in Alexandre Monahan to add some offensive punch.

Marco Scandella will be coming into his second year and was solid last year. The Minnesota Wild selected him in the second round in the 2008 Draft. Shawn Morton-Boutin, another 18-year-old, should also have a solid season.

In goal, Rafael D’Orso should have a good season. If he puts up respectable numbers this season, the team is looking good a year from now. He had 25 wins last year. His goals against average was 3.18 and his save percentage was .907.

Prediction: 3rd in the Telus Western Division

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

2007-2008 Season: 47-20-2-1 (1st in the Telus Division)

Off-Season Additions: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (From Drummondville/1st Round Selection), Kevin Maletto (From Shawinigan), Dominik Bohac, Mathieu Laclair (Baie-Comeau), Benjamin Lacomte (From Quebec), Benoit Gervais (From Rimouski), and Sergey Ostapchuk (Import Selection)

Off-Season Subtractions: Yannick Riendeau (To Drummondville), Maxim Gougeon (To Rimouski), Sébastien Piche (To Rimouski), Olivier Hotte (To Drummondville), Michael Denoncourt (To Shawinigan), Yan Bouchard (To Val-d’Or), Michael Dubec (To Shawinigan)

Players That Aged Out: Jhase Sniderman, Tyler Hawes, Hugo Carpentier, Brett Morrison, Guillaume Lepine, Guillaume Blouin, Ivan Vishnevskiy

Just looking at all the impact players that have left because of trades and/or aged out, it will be a long year this season. Jeff Desjardins will lead the offense. He’s the top returning player; he had 23 goals and 47 assists for 70 points. Maxime Macenauer is another good player, the Anaheim Ducks draft pick had 60 points with 23 goals. Jarrad Struthers looks like a promising player. He had 35 points last season.

They kept rising star Marc-Andre Bourdon. He’s an offensive defenseman with 12 goals and 47 assists in 67 games. The Philadelpia Flyers selected him in the third round in this summer’s NHL Draft. Behind him, there aren’t a lot of players with experience. Benoit Gervais will be productive. How long will he be there? As a 20-year-old, he could be dealt to a contender by midseason.

Milan Pucholt is the only returning goalie. He only appeared in 15 games where he was 9-5-1, with a 3.64 goals against average, and a .864 save percentage. Kevin Maletto should be the starter. The Huskies acquired him from Shawinigan. Last season, he had 25 wins, with a 3.14 goals against average, and a .877 save percentage.

Prediction: 4th in the Telus West

That’s My Take

(Nathan also started “The World of Junior Hockey Blog” and is a contributor to the Maine Hockey Journal His email is fourniern@students.nescom.edu.)

2008-09: Season Six

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by Mike Haggett

This is the sixth season of MAINEiacs hockey now. Six. Seems like yesterday when then GM Norm Gosselin of the then Sherbrooke Castors unveiled the new team name and logo at a press conference in February of 2003. That day, which was officially day one of Lewiston QMJHL history, seems in some ways like yesterday, and an eternity at the same time. For a team some league fans dubbed the next Plattsburgh ( a Q team in NY that folded after 17 games), the MAINEiacs are doing quite well. Lewy’s dealt with the bumps and bruises quite well over the years.

It’s that time of the year where the media pundits around the league are scrambling around making their predicitions of where teams are going to end up. Looking around the league messageboards, most fans have their team at the top or in better positions than what will likely be the case. Coaches are going on record that they are going to be competitive, the games all have to be played, it’s not over ’til it’s over, and yadda, yadda, yadda… all the typical media shmooze that fans want to hear and read about. You won’t see or hear a GM or a coach get in front of the microphone and say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to suck this year and don’t bother to pay to see this crap,” although some fans are going to look at their clubs come December and wish there was truth in advertising. (see also: Maple Leafs, Toronto; perpetual rebuilding)

Here is some truth in advertising for the 2008-09 version of the Lewiston MAINEiacs: Just watch.

I know, some of you are thinking, ‘Just watch? What in the H-E-double hockey sticks are you talking about, just watch ?!?!” No, really…watch, and watch closely.

The cornerstones of the future run are here. D Garrett Clarke, C Michael Chaput & LW Etienne Brodeur are more knowns as first round picks, but keep an eye G Jonathan Connely. From more than a couple of sources outside of the team, Connely may prove to be the best goaltender taken in the 2008 draft, despite falling all the way to late in the 5th round. Watch C Steeven Jacques, who could prove to be the late round gem in the new class. While newly drafted Slovakian C Filip Janosik was a little slow out of the gate in camp, expect his comfort level to improve the more acclimated he gets with the country and the language.

The questions out of the gate are numerous. Here are my top 5:

  1. Danick Paquette: Will the 18 year-old captain be able to keep his composure and stay out of the penalty box?
  2. Peter Delmas: With Jonathan Bernier gone, will the second round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche emerge to be a bonafide top goalie in the league?
  3. Team toughness: With Brett Gallant saying thanks but no thanks, just how physically vulnerable are the MAINEiacs? Grit is certainly with this team, but is grit enough?
  4. Ed Harding: With only 5 players remaining from the 2007 championship club, this is essentially Harding’s team now. Does he have the right players in order to respond to his coaching style?
  5. Sean Stagles: With 19 year-old rookies a rarity in the league, will Stagles be able to get adjusted to the speed of the Q and make a solid contribution as a puck moving defenseman?

Make no bones about it, I love the way this club sets up for this year and beyond. While we’ll hear the typical ‘We compete to win it all every year’ line from Harding, reality is this is the year of the Rimouski Oceanic andn Quebec Remparts. Pending on where Lewiston finishes in March will dictate how far they go before running into one of those two buzzsaws in the postseason. The club in it’s present form is very capable of finishing second in the Telus Central. The Drummondville Voltigeurs may start fairly strong and be second come December, but after they sell off the newly acquired Yannick Riendeau among other older assets, I expect the traditional post-Christmas fade. The Victoriaville Tigres will be, well, not very good, and is a strong bet to finish last in the division. The Shawinigan Cataractes -should- finish at the top, but stranger things have happened in forty years of disappointment in the Saint Maurice river region.

Buckle your season belts and get ready… this is going to be a fun season.