Minor hockey doesn’t have a body checking problem, it has an intimidation problem – what’s the solution?

kidsforquebec

When you referee minor hockey for 11 years, you see some pretty crazy things.

I remember a tyke coach (tyke!) putting one foot up on the boards and shouting some mighty fine curse words at my partner and I, as the arena fell silent.

I remember a father of a novice player in a holiday tournament going off on me for having the audacity to call a tripping penalty, even though the coach of the team commented on how obvious it was. I wished the dad a Merry Christmas as I left the arena after the game.

And I remember some awfully big hitters in peewee and bantam – especially at the house league level – who didn’t know how to properly throw a hit at all. But they sure enjoyed crunching their opponents.

Hockey is an inherently dangerous game. From flying pieces of frozen rubber, to high-speed collisions intentional or not, there are a lot of ways to injure yourself on the ice even without body checking.

But with hitting, bad coaching – either by the coach of the team or by a misguided parent – can make these dangers much worse at the minor hockey level.

What’s the solution? Read more

Connor McDavid scouts his buddies for the 2014 draft

Ryan Kennedy
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Ontario League’s Erie Otters went from doormat to powerhouse in a year thanks to a talented ensemble that included Connor Brown, Dane Fox, Andre Burakovsky and Adam Pelech. But the spotlight has always come back to phenom Connor McDavid. The top prospect for the 2015 draft knew about playing for a marquee team even before the Otters turned around thanks to his days with the minor midget Toronto Marlboros. As an underager, McDavid played on a squad that featured a murderers’ row of talent and went all the way to the OHL Cup final before losing to the Mississauga Rebels. Robby Fabbri, now of the Guelph Storm, was part of that Rebels team and he’s up for the draft this year, as are several former Marlboros.

I caught up with McDavid at the OHL Awards, where he took home trophies for sportsmanship and academics. Though top prospects have been known to check out the draft a year early just to scope out the scene, McDavid will not be going to Philadelphia. Instead, he plans on using his summer to get bigger and stronger with training guru Gary Roberts. In the meantime, I asked him to scout his buddies from that Toronto team that will be selected this summer.

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Meet Game 7 hero Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings

Alec-Martinez

It’s the question many casual fans are asking this morning – and the one Chicago Blackhawks fans would rather not hear about: Who is Alec Martinez?

Though he was the most anonymous member of the Kings blueline, Martinez now finds himself in the spotlight after tossing the game-winning shot on net in overtime as Los Angeles won its third straight Game 7 on the road:

He may not have the star power of Drew Doughty or the veteran experience of Matt Greene, but Martinez is slowly and surely finding his way in the NHL.

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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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