Friday, April 22, 2011


Only four Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams remain in the chase for the President’s Cup. The semi-finals begin this evening with the Saint John Sea Dogs hosting the Lewiston Maineiacs at 7:30 pm and the Quebec Remparts facing the Gatineau Olympiques at 8:00 pm at Colisee Pepsi.

There have only been two major upsets in the post-season so far as the Victoriaville Tigres upended the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in round one and then the Lewiston Maineiacs defeated the second-seeded Montreal Juniors in the quarter-finals.

Lewiston is the lowest seed reaming as they finished eighth in the regular season standings. Gatineau is the fifth seed, Quebec third, and Saint John first.

The four teams remaining should give all of us some entertainment. After all, this is the playoffs, where anything can happen.

So, here are the SN staff’s predictions for the third round of the playoffs.


Saint John Sea Dogs (1) vs. Lewiston MAINEiacs (8)

Thoughts: Lewiston dropping Montreal in 6 games was a fairly sizeable upset in most people’s eyes (mine included), though maybe it shouldn’t have been. The Juniors’ defensive game didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room; when they’re executing well, they’re barely scraping out a win most of the time. In the end, Montreal was the team in penalty trouble and Lewiston was the team executing consistently with the man advantage, and that was a huge influence on that series.

Despite winning in five, Saint John had their hands full with a hard-working Victoriaville team. The series seemed much longer than it was thanks to the heroics of David Honzik, but given that it only took five games to knock off a team that played them as hard as the Tigres did, the Sea Dogs should be mostly pleased.

This is probably a much better matchup for Saint John, in that Lewiston also plays a run-and-gun brand of hockey, and they simply won’t be able to run with the Sea Dogs’ guns. If Saint John can take advantage on special teams and stay out of the box themselves, they should be able to pull it off without a hitch.

Bold Prediction: Lewiston’s lone win comes as a result of a 7-goal game from Olivier Dame-Malka.

Series Prediction: Sea Dogs in five.

Quebec Remparts (3) vs. Gatineau Olympiques (5)

Thoughts: Still not sold on the Remparts. Still don’t know why. They appeared to be well on their way to making my prediction of Shawinigan in 6 games look silly, until they let the Cataractes back into it before smoking them in game 7 last round.

Gatineau won four straight against Drummondville and have just been picking up steam over the last half of the regular season and into the playoffs, to the point where they look very scary. They’re a team built for the playoffs, and they’ve done a pretty good job of showing that thus far.

This one should be a great coaching battle; Patrick Roy’s firewagon style versus Benoit Groulx’s tried-and-tested systems. Given that Shawinigan pushed Quebec to the brink with hard work and less talent than Gatineau, I would suspect the ‘Piques will get the job done.

Bold Prediction: Patrick Roy lands at my front door and insults my mother because of my prediction.

Series Prediction: Olympiques in six.


Saint John Sea Dogs (1) vs. Lewiston MAINEiacs (8)

Thoughts: Lewiston will have a lot of confidence coming into this series after upsetting the second-seeded Montreal Juniors in the quarter-finals. There were plenty of close games in that series and it was a pretty solid six-game battle. But this is going to be a different series for them.

Saint John plays a similar style to the Maineiacs and the series should be full of back-and-forth, fast pace action. Lewiston has plenty of offensive guns – but so does Saint John. In this offensively driven series, it’s going to be Saint John’s superior defense core that will help them through.

The Sea Dogs’ defense is often overlooked because of their all-star forwards. But with the likes of Simon Despres, Eric Gelinas, and Nathan Beaulieu back there it’s going to be shutdown city. And as the old saying goes, “defense wins championships.”

Bold Prediction: Kirill Kabanov drops the gloves to re-enact Alexandre Semin.

Series Prediction: Saint John in five.

Quebec Remparts (3) vs. Gatineau Olympiques (5)

Thoughts: This series should be a battle.

Quebec is coming off a seven-game series win over the Shawinigan Cataractes after almost blowing a 3-1 series lead. Gatineau is coming a six-game series win over the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Both are battles tested, and both coaches know how to win.

This has the feel of one of those series where momentum is key. One bad bounce, one mistake and it could be season over.
The Olympiques have been improving ever since the Christmas break. They were active during the trade period and got some key players back from injury. They are rolling, and I see them rolling into the finals to face Saint John.

Bold Prediction: Gatineau is forced to wear their white jersey's after Tropicana Orange Juice uses their orange sweaters for a commercial.

Series Prediction: Gatineau in six.

If Bert ever sends his predictions in, they will go here.

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