Major junior teams: Hey, could I be your next GM?

Ryan Kennedy
Foreurs

The Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec League were the most surprising entry in this year’s Memorial Cup; a small-market team with a handful of NHL prospects, but certainly not packed with marquee names. Yet here they are, two games away from a national championship. As detailed in Sunaya Sapurji’s story for Yahoo! Sports, part of the success can be attributed to 30-year-old GM Alexandre Rouleau, who was just 28 when he got the job. Kyle Dubas was actually 25 when the Ontario League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds gave him the keys in 2011 and his team won the division this season.

So maybe it’s time I got a shot at running a team.

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Guelph Storm dominant in win over Val-d’Or

Bryan Mcwilliam
Val'Dor Foreurs v Guelph Storm - Game Four

The Guelph Storm outplayed the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday in a 5-2 win and nothing changed in their contest this evening against the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

Scott Walker’s Storm came out firing on all cylinders and were up 3-0 after one period, thanks to goals from Kerby Rychel – who has been a monster in the Memorial Cup so far – Zack Mitchell and Jason Dickinson.

In the second, Pius Suter made it 4-0 for Guelph with his first goal of the Cup, putting the game out of reach.

The Foreurs finally got a stroke of luck when a slashing penalty on Guelph’s Brock McGinn led to a power play goal for Randy Gazzola. They would add a second goal less than a minute later when Timotej Sille put one passed Guelph goaltender Justin Nichols.

The two goals by the Quebec team was not enough to withstand the onslaught known as the Storm, with Guelph increasing the deficit to four goals once again thanks to Robby Fabbri and Tyler Bertuzzi – who like Rychel – is playing great.

After giving up six goals, Val-d’Or coach Mario Durocher saw enough of starting goaltender Antoine Bibeau and pulled him from the game in favour of Keven Bouchard. The back-up netminder held his own, stopping 13 shots in the third and centre Anthony Beauregard added a third goal for the Foreurs, but the gap was just too much as the Storm walked away with the victory 6-3.

Guelph will play their next game against the London Knights on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. EST, while Val-d’Or play tomorrow night against Edmonton.

Edmonton Oil Kings take one over host London Knights

Bryan Mcwilliam
2014 Memorial Cup - London Knights v Edmonton Oil Kings

One night after losing at the hands of the Guelph Storm, coach Derek Laxdal and his Edmonton Oil Kings squad took it out on the Memorial Cup host London Knights.

The Oil Kings Reid Petryk scored the first goal of the game 9:42 into the first.

The contest was pretty evenly matched until the Oil Kings’ Edgars Kulda added his first goal of the game in the second, putting one passed Philadelphia Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz, who saw his first game action on Friday against Val-d’Or in seven weeks thanks to a long Knights layoff and an eight game suspension for slashing on March 25.

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Memorial Cup: Guelph Storm take down the Edmonton Oil Kings

Bryan Mcwilliam
Guelph Storm v Edmonton Oil Kings - Game Two

The Memorial Cup kicked off last night in London, Ont., as the Val-d’Or Foreurs defeated the hometown London Knights in front of 8,863 fans.

Today, Kerby Rychel and the Guelph Storm matched up against the Edmonton Oil Kings and Griffin Reinhart in what was sure to be an exciting contest between two closely matched opponents.

Rychel opened the game’s scoring in the first period, putting one passed Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry on the team’s first power play opportunity of the game. The teams also showed that neither was going to back down from each other as Guelph’s Ryan Horvat and Edmonton’s Blake Orban went toe-to-toe, showing that fighting can exist in big games.

The Oil Kings tied it up early in the second period when Samuelsson Henrik scored unassisted 1:19 into the period and than took the lead less than 30 seconds later when defenseman Ashton Saunter put one past the Storm’s Justin Nichols.

Rychel would score his second power play goal of the game to tie it up showing why he was selected 19th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013.

The back and forth contest would sway towards Guelph once again thanks to an even strength goal from Fergus. Ont. native Brock McGinn. The Storm would take the lead into the second intermission.

Scott Walker’s Guelph squad put the nail in the coffin in the third thanks to Todd Bertuzzi’s nephew Tyler, who scored at 5:46 and again at 15:49 to give the Storm a 5-2 victory.

Edmonton took the loss and will play next on Sunday night against London at 7:00 p.m. EST, while Guelph will play Val-d’Or on Monday at 7:00 p.m. EST.

The WHL’s next star is still 14 years old

Ryan Kennedy
Stelio-Mattheos

The Western League drafts players one year earlier than its counterparts in Ontario and Quebec, making projections harder. But this edition’s top pick comes in at nearly 6-foot-3 and 177 pounds already – and he doesn’t turn 15 until next month. So who is Stelio Mattheos and what else do you need to know about the WHL bantam draft? Glad you asked.

Who is Stelio Mattheos?

The big center hails from Winnipeg, where he played for the Monarchs program. Brandon Wheat Kings GM-coach Kelly McCrimmon described Mattheos as a powerful skater who is strong and skilled. He threw up a ridiculous 103 points in 35 games for the Monarchs, putting him line in with past phenoms such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyler Benson. He’s allowed to play a limited number of games with the Wheat Kings next season, but will spend the majority of his time in midget.

Wait, why did the Wheat Kings pick first overall?

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New Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan has always had “the protective gene”

Brendan Shanahan

Let’s make one thing clear: Brendan Shanahan never used fighting as a tactic. There was nothing strategic or calculating about it. From the time he was seven years old, he knew what it was to defend himself or someone close to him. His father, Donal, was a big, strong man who preached pacifism, but as a child, the future Hockey Hall of Famer often could be found rolling around on sidewalks and lawns in suburban Toronto, taking on physical challenges the way kids often have to in order to prove their mettle.

It was simple, really: he either did the beating up, or was the beaten-up.

So as he got older and Shanahan’s two sporting loves – hockey and lacrosse – came calling, he was naturally prepared for what came next. That is, to a degree. Like everyone who goes from playing for fun to playing for keeps, he still needed an education. His experiences in major junior and the NHL created arguably the archetype of the modern-day power forward of the 1980s: a player who could give as good as he got, who had a universal respect for his fairness, and who never asked anyone else to settle his scores.

And those experiences, that education and that evolution still guide him – through his first off-ice career as the NHL’s chief disciplinarian, and now as the new president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 


 

Shanahan showed up in London, Ont., in 1985 to play for the Ontario League’s Knights as a high first-round pick, tall and lanky and just 16 years old. As such, he was a target for opponents right off the hop. Then-Knights coach Don Boyd and team brass were surprised when they saw him more than hold his own in his first OHL fight – and Shanahan quickly realized a no-guff-taken attitude carved out a bigger place for him on the ice.

“It got me respect and room and space to score goals and be a better player,” Shanahan said. “There was no advantage growing up to being a decent fighter, but I found that during my first trip through each team I got treated one way, and my second trip through each team, I got treated differently.” Read more

World’s largest minor hockey league takes on hitting, finances

Ken Campbell
bodychecking photo

The biggest minor hockey league in the world will likely begin to progressively eliminate bodychecking at all age levels of its lowest elite age group by the 2015-16 season. All of which means players who play at the ‘A’ level of the Greater Toronto Hockey League will be able to play a reasonably high level of competitive hockey without worrying about body contact.

The GTHL recently conducted an expansive survey on the matter asking players, coaches and officials whether they wanted bodychecking removed from all age levels of ‘A’ hockey and 64.3 percent of the 4,000 who responded said they want it removed. Currently, there is no bodychecking in any competitive bracket of any age level from peewee (12 years old) and below anywhere in Canada. The GTHL move would eliminate body contact at all age levels for the ‘A’ bracket, but bodychecking would continue at the more competitive ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ levels. Read more

Revisiting Columbus hero Boone Jenner as a 15-year-old

Ryan Kennedy
Boone-Jenner-CBJ

The Columbus Blue Jackets are scrapping for their playoff lives right now, currently holding down the final wild card spot in the East. But nothing has ever been guaranteed for this franchise, which is why a player such as Boone Jenner is so integral to success. Jenner helped the Jackets to a critical 4-0 win over the New York Islanders yesterday, getting a greasy goal in tight to open the scoring, then dishing to Mark Letestu for another.

The first time I interviewed Jenner, he was 15 years old. You can read the article here. It’s funny how the roots of his gritty, determined play already seemed to be there, even as a youngster.

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