Tuesday, March 8, 2011


#2 Matt Provost
Oakville, Ontario
#4 Alex Micallef
Fort Erie, Ontario
#12 Dylan Anderson
Greely, Ontario
#19 Trevor Parkes
Fort Erie, Ontario
Convincing players to play major junior hockey isn't always easy for a number of reasons. In most cases, the young men who opt to play major junior are forced to make a number of life altering decisions.

Are they willing to live away from home with a billet? Are they comfortable focusing on an intense hockey schedule and school studies at the same time? What about moving far away from their family and friends to live in foreign cities such as Baie Comeau, Rouyn Noranda or Cape Breton?

All these questions factor into a players decision. Looking around the league there are some teams that are better equipped to attract players than others. Montreal is one of those cities who have an advantage and the Juniors have demonstrated an ability to attract a number of strong players from Ontario looking for an opportunity to play major junior.

So why has Montreal been so successful in this realm? Well....

If school is near the top of a player's list of priorities, Montreal has plenty to offer at both the Cegep and University levels.

If players want to be close to home, Montreal has that too as its situated very close to the Ontario boarder and has various means of travel with convenient departure schedules.

There's the bilingual factor too. Montrealers are fluent in both French and English making it an easier transition for Ontarioites to move to Montreal compared to, say, Chicoutimi.

On top of it all and compared to other cities in the QMJHL, Montreal is arguably the most desirable in terms of being a nice place to live. Perhaps that's a big factor as well?

Either way, Montreal has done a tremendous job at successfully attracting four quality Ontario born players to their team. Defenseman Matt Provost and right winger Trevor Parkes joined the Juniors during the 2009-2010 season, while both defenseman Alex Micallef and centerman Dylan Anderson entered into the mix this season.

All four players are considered key components of Pascal Vincent's roster. Let's look at each player a little more, where they're from and where they played before the joined the Montreal Juniors this season.

#2 - Defenseman, Matt Provost
Hometown: Oakville, Ontario
Born: 1992, junior age = 18
Size: 6'0", 191 lbs
2008-2009: Played for the OJHL's Streetsville Derbys (42GP, 0G, 10A, 10PTS, 43PIMS)
2009-2010: Played for the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors (52GP, 2G, 3A, 5PTS, 40PIMS, +2)
2010-2011: Playing for the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors (57GP, 4G, 9A, 13PTS, 35PIMS, +9)

You might as well call him the Mark Streit or Dustin Byfuglien of the Montreal Juniors. While he doesn't have a Swiss background and he isn't 6 foot 5 inches tall, Provost is a reliable player and capable of playing both defense and forward. In 2008-2009 he played in the Ontario Junior A Hockey League before making the jump to the Juniors roster last season as a 17 year old defenseman. His game provided the Juniors with a steady influence on the blueline and he earned himself regular ice time. This season Provost has had an opportunity to split his ice time between defense and right wing as coach Pascal Vincent continues to struggle with the challenge of managing his lineup because of injuries roster depth. Provost plays a responsible two way game. He is a physical player too. This is demonstrated through his checking capabilities and willingness to drop the mitts to defend his teammates (click here to watch Provost coming to the defense of goaltender J-F Berube after he is run over by Sain John Sea Dogs forward Jonathan Huberdeau). Offensively Provost has a quick whip to his shot and is known for making crisp passes in transition. Many around the league consider Provost a #3 or #4 type defenseman, but with the Juniors depth "issue", he probably won't see that type of responsibility until next season after the veteran players move on.

#4 - Defenseman, Alex Micallef
Hometown: Fort Erie, Ontario
Born: 1992, junior age = 18
Size: 6'0", 195 lbs
2008-2009: Information unavailable
2009-2010: Played for the OJHL's Villanova Knights (38GP, 3G, 29A, 32PTS, 39PIMS)
2010-2011: Playing for  the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors (40GP, 2G, 7A, 9PTS, 34PIMS, +9)

Similar to Provost, Micallef finds himself in a tough position. On the average team in the Q, he'd be considered a #4 defenseman, but with the Juniors deep roster he's constantly fighting to stay in the lineup. Micallef joined the Juniors this season after playing in the Ontario Junior A Hockey League with the Villanova Knights last year when he earned almost a point per game. Not too shabby for a defenseman. Micallef is known to rip low hard shots from just inside the opponents' blueline which is a great asset to have if he ever gets a chance to quarterback the power play. When he eventually gains power play time (probably next season) you will definitely see his numbers improve. While his offensive skills are already very strong, he still needs to work more on his foot speed in his own end to improve his defensive game. Micallef brings an element of toughness to the roster as well. While he isn't as well known for his hitting as much as Provost, he does know how to throw the gloves to the ground. Here's our favorite youtube clip of Micallef, dropping the gloves with one of the league's top brawlers and ex-Montreal Junior defenseman, Dillon Donnelly (click here).

#12 - Centerman, Dylan Anderson
Hometown: Greely, Ontario
Born: 1991, junior age = 19
Size: 6'2", 187 lbs
2008-2009: Played for the OHL's Ottawa 67's (51GP, 0G, 4A, 5PTS, 12PIMS, -10)
2009-2010: Played for the OHL's Ottawa 67's (23GP, 0G, 1A, 1PTS, 2PIMS, -6)
2010-2011: Playing for the QMJHL's Montreal Juniors (61GP, 10G, 14A, 24PTS, 18PIMS, +10)

Anderson played the majority of the last two seasons with the OHL's Ottawa 67's before making the jump to the QMJHL for a fresh opportunity. The addition of Anderson to the Juniors roster has been such a positive that it's hard to imagine how things didn't work out for him in Ottawa. Perhaps a regular shift was all Anderson needed to turn the page in Montreal? He has centered the 3rd or 4th line for most of the season and is used as a defensive specialist by coach Pascal Vincent, both on the penalty kill and whenever the Juniors are hard pressed to win a key faceoff in their own zone. In fact, Anderson's faceoff skills are so great that his winning percentage of 56.50% ranks 7th overall in the league amongst players who have taken 500 face-offs or more. Funny enough, two other Juniors have better winning percentages than Anderson. With a face-off winning percentage of 58.79%, Aubry ranks 3rd overall in the league, while at 57.0% Gouchie ranks 5th overall. Offensively, Anderson is effective because he drives the net and looks for rebounds to score goals. Here's a perfect example (watch here - Anderson goal is scored at 2:36 of the video). Down the stretch you can expect to see Anderson continue to fill an important bottom 6 forward role during the team's playoff run.

#19 - Right Winger, Trevor Parkes 
Hometown: Fort Erie, Ontario
Born: 1991, junior age = 19
Size: 6'2", 185 lbs
2008-2009: Played for the GOJHL's Fort Erie Meteors (52GP, 23G, 20A, 43PTS, 34PIMS)
2009-2010: Played for the (66GP, 27G, 20A, 47PTS, 34PIMS, +19)
2010-2011: Playing for the (56GP, 29G, 27A, 56PTS, 30PIMS,  +22)

The addition of Trevor Parkes has truly been a remarkable find on the part of Pascal Vincent and his scouting staff. Three years ago Parkes was passed over by OHL scouts because he was considered far too small at that time to play in the provinces' top junior league (he was 5'7" and 155 lbs....3 years later he's 6/2" and 185 lbs). So Parkes found a spot on the roster of his local junior team with Fort Erie in the Greater Ontario Junior B Hockey League. His strong two way game caught the eye of the Juniors and a camp invite followed just prior to the 2009-2010 season. Last year Parkes finished 2nd on the team in goals during the season (27 goals in 66 games played) and 1st on the team in goals in the post-season (6 goals in 7 games played). Then last summer the Detroit Red Wings signed Parkes to a 3 year two-way entry level contract which must have encouraged Parkes to work even harder to prepare for this season. Through 56 games this year Parkes is leading the Juniors in both goals (29) and points (56). Parkes' style of game is loved by the scouts. He uses his big frame well to drive the net and protects the puck well in the process. He has a great set of hands and a quick and accurate shot. He finishes his checks and is a very strong skater both on the fore-check and on the back-check. To see a clip of Parkes in action, check out this youtube clip (watch here) which highlights a hat trick he earned last season against Lewiston.

That's all for now.

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish

No comments:

Post a Comment