Thursday, March 26, 2015

SN's First Round Playoff Predictions

Lorne Webster | SN Staff Writer

Welcome to the QMJHL's "March Madness." Much like the NCAA basketball brackets - where a monkey spinning a wheel has arguably an equal chance as many so-called experts at predicting all of the first round winners - projecting the results of this year's QMJHL playoffs is nearly impossible. So here are the thoughts of the Station Nation staff.

Rimouski (1) vs. Victoriaville (16)
Lorne Webster – SN Staff Writer – Rimouski in 4
Rimouski was strong - not dominant - down the stretch, while Victoriaville pretty much stumbled into the playoffs. Led by a league high 13 19-year-old players, Morin, Gauthier et al will be simply too strong for the Tigres.

Kevin Chambers – SN Draft/Prospect Writer – Rimouski in 4
The Oceanic are my pick to win it all and they will get little resistance from a rebuilding Tigres team. There is just too much offensive firepower from the Oceanic. This one will end quickly.

Jamie Tozer – SN Editor – Rimouski in 4
The Oceanic are a tank this season and I’m picking them to be playing in late May. The Tigres… they are not a tank.

Moncton (2) vs. Chicoutimi (15)
Lorne – Moncton in 6
After the Christmas break, the Wildcats jumped onto the backs of Conor Garland and Ivan Barbashev and tore their way through the Maritimes Division. IF - and this is a huge if - the veteran squad from Chicoutimi (with 11 19-year-old players) can ever find a way to contain Moncton's dynamic duo, the Sagueneens could pull off an upset. But doing that for over 30 minutes per game for an entire series will likely prove to be too much. 

Kevin – Moncton in 5
The Wildcats were close to winning the regular season crown, coming right down to the final weekend. Their reward is a dangerous 15th seeded Sags squad. In the end the Wildcats will be too much for the Sags led by leading scorer Conor Garland.

Jamie – Moncton in 5
Chicoutimi has a respectable roster and finished just a few games below .500. They could be dangerous, but not too dangerous for the Wildcats to handle. I think the funky schedule this series is forced to play under will help the Sags out a bit and they’ll win a game somewhere. Moncton is too strong, though.

March Rankings For Q Draft Released

HockeyProspect.com has released their March rankings for the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft.

Ranked first is forward Joseph Veleno, an underage player seeking exceptional status. If he is declared eligible for this year’s draft, he is viewed by most as the best player available. He was also born in the year 2000, so let that sink in.

Ranked second is Halifax Macs forward Shane Bowers. HockeyProspect.com said he showed “elite offensive skills” and a strong work ethic with Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Games. He had 52 points in 34 games with the Macs during the regular season.

Bowers was the only Atlantic Canadian ranked in the website’s top 10. Rounding out the top five was forward Maxime Comtois, forward Antoine Morand and goaltender Dereck Baribeau.

HockeyProspect.com’s top 10 rankings can be seen for free here.

The Saint John Sea Dogs or Acadie-Bathurst Titan will select first overall at this year's draft. Saint John is also scheduled to pick 9th and 10th.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zboril, Green Nominated For Awards

Sea Dogs defensemen Jakub Zboril and Luke Green are among the finalists for the QMJHL’s Golden Puck Awards.

Zboril, projected to be a first round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, has been nominated for the Michael Bossy Trophy as the league’s top professional prospect. He’s up against Halifax’s Timo Meier and Cape Breton’s Evgeny Svechnikov.

The award will be presented at the annual Golden Puck Awards in Montreal on April 8.

Both Zboril and Green are nominated for the Raymond Lagace Trophy as the defensive rookie of the year. Shawinigan’s Samuel Girard was also nominted.

The Raymond Lagace Trophy will be presented to the winner during the playoffs a pre-game ceremony.

The full list of nominees can be found on the QMJHL website.

Meanwhile, Nathan Noel is also nominated for this thing.
#Hashtag it.

Photo: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

Sea Dogs Attendance Increases

For the first time in a few years, the Saint John Sea Dogs saw an attendance increase.

The Sea Dogs averaged 3,582 fans per game at Harbour Station this season, up from their average of 3,423 a year ago. It makes since given the positive direction the team is moving in and how the quality of play improved.

This is the first time Saint John has seen an attendance increase since they hit a franchise high 4,561 fans per game in 2011-12.

Here’s a look at Saint John’s year-by-year attendance numbers and where they ranked in the league.

SeasonTotalAverage
2005-06156,6944,477 (4th)
2006-07134,3543,839 (6th)
2007-08139,2143,978 (5th)
2008-09133,6133,930 (5th)
2009-10140,7794,141 (4th)
2010-11152,2374,478 (4th)
2011-12155,0604,561 (3rd)
2012-13135,7323,992 (4th)
2013-14116,3803,423 (5th)
2014-15121,7823,582 (5th)

Saint John’s largest crowd of the year came on New Year’s Eve against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with an announced crowd of 5,680. The smallest crowd of the year came on Oct. 12 against the Charlottetown Islanders with only 2,286 fans.

This year’s league average was 3,275 fans per game, down from last year’s average of 3,370. As usual, Quebec led the league (9,698) while Bathurst finished last (1,617).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Team Awards Announced

The Saint John Sea Dogs held their annual awards banquet tonight at the Delta Brunswick.

For a third straight year, goaltender Sebastien Auger was named the team’s most valuable player. Forward Nathan Noel also had a good night, winning three awards.

The following is the full list of award winners:

MVP – Sebastien Auger
Academic Player of the Year Award – Sebastien Auger
Three Stars Award – Nathan Noel
Fans Choice Award – Nathan Noel
Top Scorer Award – Nathan Noel
Community Service Award – Mark Tremaine
Team Player Award – Mark Tremaine
Top Defenceman Award – Thomas Chabot and Jakub Zboril
Rookie of the Year – Luke Green
Most Improved Player Award – Mathieu Joseph

The Sea Dogs open the playoffs up on Friday night in Baie-Comeau.

Photo: Sea Dogs Facebook

Notebook: Ryan Kenny Called Up

The Sea Dogs have brought in some reinforcements as the playoffs near.

The team announced yesterday that they have called up forward Ryan Kenny from the Miramichi Rivermen of the NB/PEI Major Midget Hockey League.

According to a Sea Dogs news release, Kenny is expected to join the team before they depart for Baie-Comeau. Game one of the first round playoff series is on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the Henry Leonard Centre.

Kenny, in his third season with the Rivermen, had 18 goals and five assists in 31 games this season. He was held pointless in four playoff games. He finished third in the league in penalty minutes with 97.

A fourth-round pick of the Sea Dogs in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft, Kenny will help fill the hole left in Saint John’s roster left by the injured Adam Marsh.

RAMPAGE SIGN DeSERRES

DeSerres finished his fourth season with the University of Calgary Dinos last week with his team falling in the University Cup quarterfinals. In 15 regular season games with the Dinos this year, the Calgary native recorded an 11-4 record to go along with a 2.07 GAA and .920 SV%. He was part of a fantastic goaltending tandem with Kris Lazaruk.

The Rampage are, for now anyways, the AHL affiliate for the Florida Panthers. DeSerres attended Panthers rookie camp as a free agent last fall.

ROOKIE SCORING
Sea Dogs defenseman Luke Green finished third amongst 1998-born scorers this season.
Green finished 14th in overall rookie scoring while Adam Marsh finished 10th with 44 points.

BUTTON SPEAKS
TSN’s Craig Button talks to News 95.7’s John Moore about a couple Sea Dogs.