Monday, September 27, 2010


The Juniors enjoyed a successful weekend which started on Friday as the team earned a victory over the #1 ranked Saint John Sea Dogs by a score of 4-1. On Saturday afternoon Montreal defeated the Val D'or Foreurs convincingly 6-2.

The victory over the Sea Dogs is significant because the Juniors (ranked #2 in the "Q" by The Hockey News Magazine) now know they're are able to challenge Saint John (ranked #1) for top spot in the league. It is important to note that both Montreal and Saint John were each missing key players who were still participating at NHL training camps.

The Juniors win over Val D'or showed just how dominant the team can be. The shot count after the first period of play was 19-4 in favor of Montreal. After three periods of play the Juniors finished with an overwhelming 48 shots compared to Val'D'or's 12.

The 3 stars for Montreal this weekend were:

1. Xavier Ouellet: The 17 year old defenseman showed that he's able to produce offense. Ouellet earned 5 assists and a + 4 plus/minus rating during the two games.

2. Etienne Marcoux: Another 17 year old, Montreal's young goaltender managed to allow only 3 goals on 36 shots, translating into a .916 save percentage and a 1.50 GAA. The keeper was especially good against Saint John where Marcoux made a handful of cross-crease pad saves.

3. Janos Hari (seen in photo): The "Rat", as they call him, made his season debut for the Juniors this weekend. Against the Sea Dogs we saw the Rat at work. During his first shift he punished Tomas Jurko with a thunderous hit, only seconds after stepping on the ice for his first shift. Against Val D'or, Hari displayed his talent by scoring 2 goals and adding 1 assist. He finished the weekend with a +3 plus/minus rating. Hari left the game with under 10 minutes to play after suffering an apparent knee injury.

The Juniors next two games are at home. They take on ex-Montreal Junior Guillaume Asselin and his Chicoutimi teammates on Friday night. On Sunday the Juniors host the Victoriaville Tigres.

Photo credit: Ron Lemish


Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's been a busy start to the season for the Montreal Juniors. Here's a few updates for you to chew on:

Trevor Parkes (seen in photo wearing a white jersey) has been signed to a 3 year entry level contract by the Detroit Red Wings. Going undrafted back in June has proven to be a benefit in disguise for Parkes. Accepting the Wings' post-draft invitation, Parkes participated at Detroit's rookie camp back in July. The last two weeks he's been at their rookie and pro camps and demonstrated enough potential to Red Wings management that he earned himself a contract. Bravo Mr. Parkes!

Janos Hari, one of Montreal's import players, is recovering from mononucleosis and is expected to make his season debut in the very near future, perhaps even as early as this weekend. The Hungarian born Hari developed his hockey skills in Sweden from age 12-17. This will be his first season playing in North America. The left winger is known for his ability to produce offense and his chippy play. He describes himself as a "rat on ice" and has therefore been nicknamed; "Rat".

David Rose is on fire this season. He has already registered 2 goals and 3 assists in 4 games played. Rose's skating has definitely improved since last season. He is generating more speed from his stride and is skating to the right areas on the ice in order to create more room for himself when he has the puck. Last season Rose scored 18 points in 32 games played.

Louis Leblanc played his 1st game in the NHL last night as the Montreal Canadiens took on the Boston Bruins at the Bell Center. He seemed a bit timid during his first few shifts but looked more comfortable as the game continued. Leblanc played well along the boards and demonstrated his willingness to be a complete player at both ends of the ice. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 4-2.

Speaking of NHL action, Montreal Juniors goaltender Jean-Francois Berube will start in goal for the LA Kings tonight.

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish


Tuesday, September 21, 2010


During the past 10 days I was completely disconnected from the hockey world. Traveling in Spain and France, I wasn't able to watch any hockey, check "Q" scores, etc... I guess that's healthy every now and then.

One of the highlights of my trip was having an opportunity to attend a Barcelona FC match. Strangely, it felt like a hockey game because of the high amount of offensive production. "Barce!", as the fans call their club, beat a Greek team named Panathinikos 5-1 in Champion League play. My highlights were:

1) Lionel Messi. Many consider him to be one of the best players in the world. He scored two goals, hit the cross bar and was stopped on a penalty shot attempt. A treat to watch.

2) The stadium. It holds about 92 thousand supporters and the crowd is as passionate as Montreal hockey fans. My fiancee and I paid 55 euro each for nose bleed seats but our birds eye view was extraordinary none the less.

3) The fans. Simply put, they're very passionate people. Throughout the game, whenever the referee made (or didn't make) a call, the fans displayed their displeasure by pretending to axe their own heads off with their hands, as if to say: "off with his head".

Okay. Okay. Back to hockey. Below is a summary of the seven Montreal Junior players who have been attending NHL training camps along with a status report on each player:

Louis Leblanc, Centerman (19), Montreal Canadiens:
The Montreal Canadiens' 1st round pick in 2009 is off to a hot start in the Habs' training camp. He scored a couple of goals in one of the team's Red and White inter-squad games. Today it was announced that Leblanc will play in his first ever NHL game when the Habs face off against the Boston Bruins tomorrow night at the Bell Center. The game will be televised on RDS.

Philippe Lefebvre, Left Winger (19), Montreal Canadiens:
Undrafted in 2009 Lefebvre earned an invitation to the Montreal Canadiens training camp last summer. He made good impression with the team and left with a 3 year entry level contract. Lefebvre was back at the Habs' camp this year however he was cut yesterday and therefore won't have a chance to participate in any pre-season NHL action. Lefebvre will be in the Juniors lineup this Friday night.

Louis-Marc Aubry, Centerman (19), Detroit Red Wings:
Aubry was drafted by Detroit this summer in the 3rd round of the NHL entry draft. Participating in his first camp Aubry played in a number of rookie games. He was cut today along with 12 other junior aged players. He is expected to make his season debut with the Juniors this Friday.

Trevor Parkes, Right Winger (19), Detroit Red Wings:
Strangely he went undrafted last June. But days following the draft he was approached by both the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings with camp invitations. Parkes decided the Wings were a "better fit". He attended their development camp in July and their training camp this September. The Wings sent 13 junior aged players back to their club teams today but surprisingly Parkes name wasn't on the cut list. I'm assuming he's still at the Wings camp and they're deciding whether or not to offer him a contract. If they don't, Parkes becomes available to any another NHL franchise.

Charles-Olivier Roussel, Defenseman (19), Nashville Predators:
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, Roussel participated in his second training camp this September. Earlier today it was announced that Nashville would trim their camp roster down to 50 players and Roussel would be one of 6 junior players sent back to their respective Junior teams. Roussel will suit up for the Juniors this Friday night.

Charles Landry, Defenseman (19), Tampa Bay Lightning:
He took part in the Tampa Bay Lightning's training camp after being a last minute camp invitee. Landry took advantage of the opportunity earning a 3 year entry level contract that was signed last week. Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman has said Landry will continue his development with the Montreal Juniors Hockey Club for the remainder of the 2010-2011 campaign. Landry is expected to be in the Juniors lineup this Friday night.

Jean-Francois Berube, Goaltender (19), Los Angeles Kings:
He was drafted by Los Angeles in the 4th round of the 2009 NHL entry draft after the Kings traded up a few draft position to snag him. Berube is still participating at the Kings' training camp and is expected to start in nets for an exhibition game this Thursday night.


Friday, September 10, 2010


After a successful 3 week training camp the Juniors are ready to start the regular season. Their first game is tonight vs. Shawinigan, starting at 19:05 @ the Verdun Auditorium.

While the team has looked strong during the pre-season, there's still work to be done. Finding the right line combinations will be one of Pascal Vincent's priorities. The challenge is to merge three categories of players together; 1) Returning veteran players, 2) Newly acquired veteran players (such as Landry, Meilleur, Roussel - seen in pic) and 3) the rookies.

Without looking into a crystal ball, we don't know how Montreal's lines combinations will be structured. All things considered, here's my guess:

Forwards (LW / C / RW - junior age in brackets):

Line #1: Philippe Lefebvre (19) / Louis Leblanc (19) / Nicolas Chouinard (20)

Line #2: Eliezer Sherbatov (19) / Denis Kindl (18) / Trevor Parkes (19)

Line #3: Janos Hari (18) / Louis-Marc Aubry (19) / Jeremy Gouchie (20)

Line #4: J-C Laflamme (17) / David Rose (19) / Philippe Fontaine (19)

13th & 14th Forwards: Michael Clarke (17), Dylon Anderson (19)

Defensemen (LD / RD - junior age in brackets):

Pairing #1: Francis Meilleur (20) / Charles Olivier Roussel (19)

Pairing #2: Xavier Ouellet (17) / Charles Landry (19)

Pairing #3: Jonathan Narbonne (18) / Matt Provost (18)

7th defenseman: Alex Micallef (18)

Goaltenders (junior age in brackets):

Starter: Jean-Francois Berube (19)

Back-up: Etienne Marcoux (17)

For those of you who are going to the game tonight, enjoy it! You'll have a good chance to check out a number of rookies since 4 of the Juniors 7 NHL affiliated players will be away at training camps. Those missing will include Aubry (DET), Parkes (DET), Landry (TBL) and Berube (LAK). Roussel (NAS), Leblanc (Habs) and Lefabvre (Habs) will be in the lineup.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This week the Hockey News Magazine released their QMJHL rankings and listed Montreal as the 2nd best team in the Q, trailing only the Saint John Sea Dogs. The teams are ranked 1 through 18.

During the Juniors' first season (2008-2009) they were ranked 6th / 18 teams. Last season (2009-2010) they were ranked 17th / 18 teams.

The magazine also produces a list of 10 QMJHL players of whom they feel are the best NHL prospects due to be picked at the 2011 NHL entry draft. Montreal Juniors defenseman Xavier Ouellet ranks #4 on this list. Ex-Montreal Junior defenseman Dillon Donnelly ranks 9th overall. Donnelly was dealt to Shawinigan this summer as part of a deal that saw star defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel come back Montreal's way.

Here's a look at the rankings:


1 - Saint John
2 - Montreal
3 - Acadie-Bathurst
4 - Quebec
5 - Rimouski
6 - PEI
7 - Gatineau
8 - Chicoutimi
9 - Moncton
10 - Lewiston
11 - Shawinigan
12 - Drumondville
13 - Val d'Or
14 - Halifax
15 - Baie Comeau
16 - Victoriaville
17 - Cape Breton
18 - Rouyn-Noranda

Note: Accorss the CHL's 60 team league, Montreal was ranked 6th overall.


1 - Sean Couturier, C (Drummondville)
2 - Tomas Jurco, RW, (Saint-John)
3 - Jonathan Huberdeau, C (Saint-John)
4 - Xavier Ouellet, D (Montreal)
5 - Logan Shaw, RW (Capre Breton)
6 - Brent Andrews, LW (Halifax)
7 - Nathan Beaulieu, D (Saint-John)
8 - Zack Phillips, C (Saint-John)
9 - Dillon Donnelly, D (Shawinigan)
10 - Phillip Danault, LW (Victoriaville)


Monday, September 6, 2010


The Montreal Juniors ended their pre-season by loosing to the Val D'Or Foreurs in a chippy affair that ended by a shoot-out decision, 4-3.

Despite the loss, Montreal finished tied with Val D'Or for the best pre-season record in the league, finishing 4-0-0-1 (.800 winning percentage) and earning 9 out of a possible 10 points in the standings. The Juniors scored 18 goals for and surrendered 11 goals against.

Playing in front of a full crowd at an arena in the city of Varennes, The Juniors completed a hat trick of pre-season games played off the island of Montreal.

Fans were able to cheer for an almost "season ready" lineup. All regulars were dressed except for goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (scratch), defenseman Charles Landry (scratch), forwards Jeremy Gouchie (scratch), David Rose (scratch) and Hungarian born Janos Hari (still recovering from Mononucleosis).

This was my first opportunity to watch defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel since he was acquired. He provides the Juniors with a hulking presence on the blue line. The Nashville Predator's prospect is listed at 6'1" in height and 202 lbs in weight. Let me tell you, he looks it too. Roussel, demonstrated his strength on a few plays. Most notably, during the first period, a Val D'Or forward thought he was lining up Roussel for a big hit while his head was looking down, trying to get the puck out of his skates, only to run into Roussel and bounce backwards as though he were a linebacker standing secure on his skates. His shot from the blue line is impressive as well. Not only is it hard, but accurate. I guess that's why he registered 15 goals and 36 assist for 51 points in 64 games last season.

Montreal's best trio of forwards was the line of Denis Kindl centering RW Trevor Parkes (seen in photo - center) and LW Eliezer Sherbatov. Kindl has impressed me throughout the pre-season with a strong positional game and above average play making skills. Kindl registered 1 assist in the contest. Parkes also had an assist. But the game's first star on this night was Sherbatov, or as a Montreal Juniors fan I know has tabbed him; "Sherby". During the second period of play Sherbatov scored 2 goals within 4 minutes of play, bringing the Juniors from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game 3-3. Both goals were of TSN "highlight of the night" type quality.

Another trend that continued was seeing centerman Louis Leblanc and the Juniors' other Montreal Canadiens prospect, LW Philippe Lefebvre playing together. While they looked more comfortable together than the game vs. Shawinigan on Aug. 28th, it is clear that they still need to refine their on ice chemistry. The two players accounted for 10 of the team's 42 shots on goal. Nicolas Chouinard played right wing on this line for most of the contest.

More so than Shawinigan, Val D'Or paid a lot of attention to Leblanc, even when he didn't have the puck. Leblanc received a large number of cheap shots during the first and second period. Both during the play and after the whistle. After face offs, in front of the net and along the boards, Leblanc received constant slashing to the legs, crosschecks to the upper body and punches to the head. On three separate occasions Leblanc's teammates rushed to him in defense which eventually led to a 5 on 5 brawl mid-way through the second period, which resulted in both Louis-Marc Aubry and Charles-Olivier Roussel being expelled from the game for fighting related activity.

Leblanc, and the Juniors, are going to have to get used to this. Teams around the league understand the dynamic of Louis Leblanc playing for Montreal. He's both a draw from the Juniors perspective and from the League's perspective. Everyone's watching him, including his own teammates. Reactionary penalties may grow to be a recurring problem for Montreal if Leblanc's teammates begin to take regular penalties while coming to his defense.

The Juniors are a damn good team. They have 7 NHL affiliated prospects, 3 strong 20 year olds players, 2 nifty Euro players, 1 top prospect for the 2011 NHL entry draft. After that, there's a nice group of depth players. But no where in that group of depth players is there a "goon" type player. It's really all GM Pascal Vincent needs to do. Add a pair of knuckles to this roster.

I'm sure Vincent is well aware of this situation and will add an enforcer in his lineup as soon as he can get his hands on one. Ideally this player will come in the form of a 19 year old 4th line winger. This way he can be inserted in and out of the lineup when required, depending on who the Juniors are playing against.

In terms of rookies, 17 year old LW Jean-Christophe Laflamme impressed once again. He earned 1 assist in the match, bringing his pre-season totals to 4 goals, 2 assists and 6 points in 5 games played. Laflamme also received 4 minor penalties for 8 PIMS. While only listed at 5'8" and 170 lbs, Laflamme isn't afraid to through his weight around.

Next up is the season opener on September 10th, 2010. Aubry (DET), Parkes (DET), Landry (TBL) and Berube (LAK) will be at their NHL camps. Leblanc (MTL) and Lefebvre (MTL) are playing for sure, and I believe Roussel will be playing since the Predators site says their rookie camp opens on the 13th.

Buy your ticket people. The games on the 10th and 12th are going to be fantastic!

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish