Three teams emerge early in 2014-15 LHJQ season
Already three weeks through the Quebec Junior Hockey League season there seems to be a three-team race for top spot in the league. The Princeville Titan (8-0-0-1), Kahnawake Condors (7-2-0-0) and the Sherbooke Cougars (6-1-2-0) have been the cream of the crop this season, with the Titan and the Cougars sitting one and two respectively in the David Perron Division. The Condors sit a atop the Alexandre Burrows Division, three points up on the next team in line, College Francais Longeuil.
The Princeville Titan went to work on Wednesday when they traveled to Saint-Jerome to battle with the Panthers (6-2-1-0), who sit first in the Martin St Louis Division. Titan Captain Marc-Anthony Therrien scored twice in the first to give his team a 2-0 lead, but a Panthers surge in the second period put Saint-Jerome up 3-2 after the second. However, some heroics from Jeremy Carignan who tied it up with 12:12 to go and then sealed it with a late tally with 43 seconds to go to gibe the Titan the win. Princeville returned home on Friday to take on the lowly Valleyfield Braves (1-8-0-0). Albeit their poor record, it was the Braves coming out strong potting two goals in the first period. Princeville was able to bounce back in the second and with the help of a six point night from M-A Therrien, they were able to hold on for the 6-4 victory; capping off a picture perfect weekend for the Titan. They return to action on Friday when they take on the equally dangerous Kahnawake Condors.
The Sherbrooke Cougars have been hiding in the shadow of Princeville in the Perron Division, but do possess the tools necessary to be a top tier team in the LHJQ. They boast arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league with Alex Leclerc and Shawn Ouellet and a good core of defencemen and skilled forwards. Coming off a game seven finals loss to Granby, the Cougars are back hungrier than ever and with a vengeance. Sherbrooke kicked off its weekend with a game against Longeuil. Sherbrooke’s usual steady defines struggled in the first, with Leclerc giving up three goals on eight shots. Cougar Joachim Vachon was able to pull his team back in the game with a pair of goals. After Leclerc settled down, Sherbrooke was able to get a rhythm going. Curtis Gass and Michael Rheaume tallied late goals two minutes apart to put Cougars up one after two. Antony Boily was able to put the game in the third with a power play goal seven minutes in, while Leclerc made 11 third period saves to seal the deal. The next day was one to forget for the Cougars, who were made quick work of by the Sainte-Agathe Montagnards. Leclerc was quickly pulled in favour of Ouellet after allowing four goals on 18 shots midway through the second. The Montagnards would eventually come away with the 6-2 victory. The Cougars travel to Ste-Hyacinthe on Friday to take on the Laureats.
The Kahnawake Condors have been a wonderful surprise to the 2014-15 LHJQ campaign. After a disappointing 2014 season where they were quickly ousted in three games in the first round by Longeuil, the head office made some blockbuster trades acquiring more role players for their superstar players. Did it ever pay off. The Condors now have a more stable four line forward group, where any line has a role and can contribute. This scoring variety showed on Friday, when the team traveled to Terrebone to clash heads with the Cobras. The Condors had six different goal scorers and Francis Leonard-Mayer made 26 saves for Kahnawake who held on for the 6-3 victory. The Condors returned home on Sunday where they faced the Montreal-Est Rangers in a dramatic high paced match up. Karl Leveille gave a mighty effort for the Rangers putting up five points, but a late Alexandre Labrosse ultimately put the game away with a goal with under four minutes remaining. The Condors meet up with powerhouse Princeville on Friday in what should be the game of the week.
The Players of the week were Karl Leveille of the Montreal-Est Rangers and defenceman Mathieu Roy of the Sainte-Agathe Montagnards.