Power Rankings – October 1st
As a new month begins, here at The Q News we are happy to roll out the first installment of the QMJHL Weekly Power Rankings. Taking into consideration other factors such as pre-season expectations and strength of schedule, here’s an evaluation of the QMJHL’s 18 clubs to date.
1. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (6 GP, 6-0-0-0, 12 points) As the calendar turns to October, the Armada’s record remains unblemished. Thought by some to be taking a step back after making the ‘Q’ semi-finals, the well-rounded club isn’t slowing down as it readies to welcome back Marc-Olivier Roy back from injury. The Armada have been lead by Christopher Clapperton who is tied for the league lead in scoring with 14 points.
2. Charlottetown Islanders (6 GP, 5-0-0-1, 11 points) It’s a new day in Charlottetown as the island club has turned the page on the P.E.I. Rocket name and welcomed in a promising new era. In spite of losing two top three scorers in Josh Currie and Ben Duffy, coach Gordie Dwyer has fashioned a tough, hard working team that has yet to lose in regulation. The Isles have a very balanced offense and top end goalie in Antonie Bibeau.
3. Rimouski Oceanic (7 GP, 5-2-0-0, 10 points) Expectations are high in the St. Lawrence for an Oceanic club that impressed last year before crashing in the first round of the playoffs. The rivalry with Baie-Comeau should heat up again and the Oceanic did well to open the season with two wins against the Drakkar. Rimouski is anchored by a strong blue-line featuring Samuel Morin, Jan Kostalek, and Jimmy Oligny.
4. Gatineau Olympiques (6 GP, 4-2-0-0, 8 points) Following their shocking upset over Rimouski in the playoffs, Gatineau won’t be able to surprise this season. The Olympiques have started well but will have to deal with the Armanda and Voltigeurs in the West all year. Gatineau is led in points and leadership by its captain Taylor Burke. The offense should improve as Martin Reway continues to reintegrate into the lineup.
5. Baie-Comeau Drakkar (7 GP, 3-0-2-2, 8 points) Losing to Nathan MacKinnon’s Halifax Mooseheads in last year’s final still stings this team. Baie-Comeau brings backs a strong nucleus that stumbled to begin the year before forwards Félix Girard, Jérémy Grégoire, and Valentin Zykov returned to the squad. The Drakkar have and will continue to score plenty of goals all year but will need goalie Philippe Cadorette to step up.
6. Chicoutimi Saguenéens (6 GP, 5-1-0-0, 10 points) Chicoutimi was expected to be a team in transition this year, looking ahead to next season and its Memorial Cup bid, but the results thus far have been very impressive. While not having yet faced much strong competition, the Sags have come out of the gate flying on the back of overage forward Sébastien Sylvestre and the goaltending duo of Julio Billia and Dominic Graham.
7. Drummondville Voltigeurs (6 GP, 4-2-0-0, 8 points) Luck was on the side of Drummondville as they were blessed to have all their key players right from the season’s outset. Drummondville’s hopes are built on the fact that much of last year’s mid-pack team is returning, now a year older and better. The Volts have also been bolstered by first year Latvian Georgs Golovkovs who leads the team in scoring in the early going.
8. Victoriaville Tigres (6 GP, 4-2-0-0, 8 points) Yanick Jean’s hockey team pulled off one of the stunners of last post-season when it knocked out a star-studded Moncton club, and the Tigres are looking to move forward this season. Still a young team, this hard-working group is off to a good start. Victo can be expected to grind out some more low scoring wins this season on the back of 19-year-old goalie Brandon Whitney.
9. Halifax Mooseheads (7 GP, 3-4-0-0, 6 points) 2012-2013’s Halifax Mooseheads were one of the most dominant Memorial Cup champions in recent memory. The Herd lost many key pieces from that team and have struggled so far. However, the Mooseheads have been given a massive boost by Jonathan Drouin’s impending return. An 18-year-old Drouin may be the most dominant QMJHLer since Sidney Crosby.
10. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (7 GP, 3-2-0-2, 8 points) Losing the first three games had some Eagles fans filled with dread as the team has been in or near the basement since 2010, but the Eagles have turned it around and look to be competitive again. With youngsters coming of age, Cape Breton has also benefited from a healthy power forward in William Carrier and the addition of Cameron Darcy who leads the ‘Q’ in scoring.
11. Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (7 GP, 3-3-1-0, 7 points) There’s a new face of the Huskies, as after 11 years behind the bench, Andre Tourigny has moved on to the NHL. Perhaps Gilles Bouchard will employ a similar style, as like last year’s Huskies were involved in high scoring games, this year’s team leads the league in both goals scored and allowed. Overager Marcus Power has led the parade thus far with 13 points.
12. Saint John Sea Dogs (6 GP, 3-2-0-1, 7 points) From 2009 to 2012, no CHL team was as consistently powerful as Saint John. Last year the rebuild began , and the results thus far this season indicate it’s progressing well. In reality, Saint John is still very young and its two games against a strong Charlottetown team- hard fought losses with goalie Sebastien Auger keeping his club in it- will be a theme to the year.
13. Val-d’Or Foreurs (7 GP, 3-4-0-0, 6 points) Val-d’Or has spent the last few seasons in the middle of the Q standings. After two tough losses to begin the year, the Foreurs have moved back to mid-pack. Val-d’Or likes offensive hockey with Anthony Mantha, Louick Marcotte, Guillaume Gelinas all in the QMJHL’s top-six scorers. Goalie François Tremblay has struggled and must improve for the Foreurs to make some noise.
14. Quebec Remparts (6 GP, 1-3-2-0, 4 points) Quebec hopes the worst is over after its 11-2 loss to Val-d’Or at the Colisee on Sunday. The struggling Remparts are better than their record as first year head coach Philippe Boucher had to wait for Adam Erne and Nick Sorensen to return and deal with injuries to Olivier Archambault and Kurt Etchegary. But in a division with Baie-Comeau and Rimouski, it will be a tough season.
15. Acadie-Bathurst Titan (7 GP, 3-4-0-0, 6 points) Finally under new ownership, there was optimism abound in Bathurst as the Titan won their first two games. Since then, their only win in five games has come over lowly Sherbrooke. Bathurst lost their five leading scorers from last year but have some good young pieces in place. In the early going 17-year-old goalie Mason McDonald is pushing to unseeded Jacob Brennan as No. 1.
16. Moncton Wildcats (7 GP, 2-5-0-0, 4 points) Most knowledgeable QMJHL fans felt it was a mistake for the Cats to go all in last season by trading for Phillip Danault, and the team is feeling the effects early this season. Moncton’s gamble to use an overage spot on rookie Christopher Caissy has helped stop the bleeding a bit as he’s put up 11 points, but 19-year-old goaltender Alex Dubeau has not fulfilled his potential.
17. Sherbrooke Phoenix (7 GP, 2-5-0-0, 4 points) Building from the ground up isn’t easy and the second year expansion Sherbrooke Phoenix are preaching patience. As expected, the club finished near the bottom in its first year and is in a similar plight early in this season. The future is bright, however. 2012 first overall pick Daniel Audette has broke out to begin the year and 2013 first rounder Jeremy Roy has also impressed.
18. Shawinigan Cataractes (7 GP, 0-6-1-0, 1 point) Fond memories of the 2012 Memorial Cup championship fill the hearts and minds of Shawinigan fans as the organization still deals with the fallout. Sometimes building a championship caliber host takes a toll on the future and Cats are a work in progress. Overage forwards Frederick Gaudreau, Matthew Boudreau, Francis Beauvillier lead the offense in hopes of a playoff return.