Open Mike Night - 3/30/09
While the NHL playoffs are quickly approaching, many other leagues are in the heat of exciting playoff action. Most people don’t follow the major junior leagues or professional European leagues that much during what ends up being a ton of very exciting playoff action. Here’s the latest from around the world for those that are curious.
Starting with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) – a league that features teams from Quebec and the Northern United States and is one of the three Canadian major junior leagues.
The first round featured a lot of sweeps:
Drummondville over Lewiston – Drummondville thumped Lewiston, outscoring them 38-8 in the series. Because of the lopsided scoring, the Voltigeurs have the four top scorers of the playoffs after the first round. Undrafted overager Yannick Riendeau leads the way (as he did in the regular season) with 19 points in four games. Maple Leaf sixth rounder, Christopher DiDomenico leads in assists with 12 (14 points) in the series. Colorado’s second rounder, Peter Delmas, came away with an 11.96 GAA and .766 save pct.
Shawinigan over Victoriaville – This series probably ended up closer than most imagined. Victoriaville was able to send both their home games to overtime. Shawinigan netminder Timo Pielmeier was a stonewall, posting a 1.63 GAA and .936 save pct. – both lead the Q so far. Pielmeier was a Sharks third rounder, but was dealt to Anaheim at the deadline. Tigres netminder, Kevin Poulin’s effort was valiant but not enough to fend off the Cataractes. Poulin is an Islander prospect.
Rimouski over Chicoutimi – Chicoutimi was just overmatched by a much hotter team. Penguin prospect Keven Veilleux leads all non-Drummondville players in scoring with 12 points. He’s been about the most dominant player in the playoffs, a man against boys on the ice. Chicoutimi goalie Francois Levesque was destroyed by Veilleux and the Rimouski offense.
Cape Breton over Saint John – The talented St. John defense was able to keep the scores close, but were overpowered by the Screaming Eagles. Led by 2009 draft eligible goaltender Olivier Bellavance-Roy and Penguins prospect Joey Haddad (undrafted free agent), Cape Breton trounced the offensively inept Fog Devils.
Quebec took down Baie-Comeau in five. Baie-Comeau was able to squeeze out a game in the series, surprisingly. The Remparts, though, dominated the rest of the series. Quebec forward and Washington prospect Dmitri Kugryshev had a good series, scoring three goals with the man advantage.
P.E.I. suffered a similar five-game fate at the hands of Moncton. After P.E.I. was blown away 12-1 over the first two games of the series, the rest of the series featured all one-goal games. The Wildcats Phillipe Cornet has nine points so far in the playoffs; Oiler fans should be happy about that. Moncton netminder Nicola Riopel, who has had a breakout year this regular season, continued his success against the Rocket. He posted a 2.18 GAA and .929 save pct. while recording one of only three shutouts so far.
Favored Gatineau moved past Acadie-Bathurst in five as well. While Gatineau has been a disappointment this year and Acadie-Bathurst has gotten some strong goaltending, this series was an overmatch from the get-go. Bathurst kept it interesting, but couldn’t steal the series. Despite losing a great linemate in Claude Giroux, Paul Byron has helped the Olympiques to the second round. Byron now gets to become a playmaker – 8 assists and 9 points can attest to that. Byron was selected in the sixth round by Buffalo in 2007.
The only series that lasted six games saw Montreal defeat Rouyn-Noranda. The lone long series of the first round saw a 2-2 split head back to Montreal. In game 5, Montreal trounced the Huskies 7-0 and used that momentum to clinch the series two nights later. Blues goalie prospect Jake Allen helped turn the series for the Juniors. Defenseman T.J. Brennan (Buffalo second rounder) leads the club in scoring with four goals and ten points in six games.
Follow-ups from other leagues coming during the week.