#1 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies vs. #6 Moncton Wildcats
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Timo Meier are looking to punch their ticket to the QMJHL finals as they face off against the Moncton Wildcats who entered the playoffs as the sixth-seeded team in the league. The Wildcats are lead in scoring by German-born Manuel Wiederer who is eligible for the 2016 NHL draft this year has scored 11 goals and 4 assists for 15 points. Other offensive threats that they Huskies will need to watch for are Conor Garland, 2015, 5th round pick of the Arizona Coyotes who has 12 points. They also have a solid amount of secondary scoring from players like Stephen Johnson, Cameron Askew, and Zack MacEwin. The Wildcats are backstopped in goal by Kevin Bouchard, 2014, seventh round pick of the Edmonton Oilers. The Moncton Wildcats have eliminated the 11th seeded Victoriaville Tigres before moving on to upset the 5th seeded Gatineau Olympiques to set up their date with the Huskies.
For the Huskies, they continue to be led by San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier who has 9 goals and 6 assists for 15 points. Jean-Christophe Beaudin and Francis Parron also have 14 points for the Huskies in 9 and 7 games respectively. The Huskies entered the playoffs as the top-ranked team in the QMJHL and should be able to get passed the Wildcats to face the winner of the Shawinigan vs. Saint John series for the QMJHL championship and a berth in the MasterCard Memorial Cup. The Huskies won both games they played against the Wildcats this year. The series starts Saturday, April 23rd at 7 pm Eastern in Rouyn-Noranda.
#2 Shawinigan Cataractes vs. #3 Saint John Sea Dogs
The Shawinigan Cataractes are in for their toughest series yet as they face the Saint John Sea Dogs, a team that they could not solve in two regular season matchups. The Sea Dogs are loaded with a very talented blueline featuring two NHL first-round picks in 2015 in Thomas Chabot (18th overall, Ottawa) who has 2 goals and 15 assists in the playoffs thus far and Jakub Zboril (13th overall, Boston) with two goals and four assists. They are lead in scoring by Sam Povorozniouk an undrafted overage player for the Sea Dogs and including Chabot has six players with ten points or more in 12 games. Another player to watch for on the Sea Dogs is Joe Veleno who is playing his rookie season after being granted exceptional status by the QMJHL, the first player in the Q to have done so. Other players that have been given exceptional status in the CHL include Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Sean Day. The Sea Dogs have eliminated the #14 seed Acadie-Bathurst Titans and the #7 seeded Cape-Breton Screaming Eagles.
San Jose Sharks prospect Cavan Fitzgerald is fifth in team scoring with three goals and 11 assists from the blue line. The Cataractes are lead by Dmytro Timashov of the Ukraine a 2015 fifth-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs with 7 goals, 10 assists for 17 points in 11 games. They have also received offensive contributions from New York Rangers 2015 first round pick Anthony Beauvillier who has added six goals and eight assists. For the Cataractes failure is not an opinion here this is a team that fired their coach while sitting in first place because management didn’t like the way the team was playing but they will have their hands full with the Sea Dogs to see who will play the Huskies or Wildcats for the right to play in the MasterCard Memorial Cup. The series starts Saturday, April 23rd at 7 pm Eastern in Shawinigan.
Eastern Conference Final
#2 Barrie Colts vs. #4 Niagra IceDogs
Both of these teams have had plenty of rest as they both swept their second round series. The Barrie Colts know that they are in for a rough ride from here on if they are to represent the OHL in the MasterCard Memorial cup. This series against the IceDogs will not be easy and the true test for either of these teams will be in the next round when the winner will face the either the Erie Otters or London Knights either would be heavy favorites. For the Colts San Jose Sharks prospect, Kevin Labanc leads the team with six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 11 games. That also ties him for second among all OHL playoff point scorers. He is tied with likely top five draft pick in this year’s draft Matthew Tkachuk and three points behind leader Mitch Marner a fourth overall pick of the Maple Leafs in 2015. Labanc was the Sharks fifth round selection in 2014. On the topic of Labanc, he has also received the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top overage player of the year. Sharks prospect Dylan Sadowy should also make his return after missing the last six games with an injury.
The IceDogs are lead with Islanders controversial prospect Josh Ho-Sang who has three goals and 12 assists for 15 points so far. Vince Dunn a second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2015 leads all scorers from the blue line. Brendan Perlini is also a top draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes being drafted 12th overall in 2014 and has scored five goals and three assists so far these playoffs. The IceDogs have not lost a game since the first round of the playoffs. The Colts are going to be in tough this series but I still like their chances of making it to the OHL finals. The series opens Thursday night at 7:30 eastern in Barrie.
Eastern Conference Final
#E1 Brandon Wheat Kings vs. #C2 Red Deer Rebels
The Red Deer rebels have shown that they are a resilient group worthy of being the host of the MasterCard Memorial Cup Tournament. Last night they beat a very good Regina Pats team by a 2-1 score to advance to the conference finals against the Brandon Wheat Kings are a team that is still heavily favored in my opinion to win the WHL Championship. Sharks Prospect Adam Helewka opened the scoring on the power play with his eighth goal of the playoffs (tied for 2nd in the WHL) to go with his 4 assists. The Wheat Kings are a very good team probably at the end of their window to compete for a memorial cup with top scorers Reid Duke a sixth-round pick of the Wild and John Quenneville a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils both with 16 points are set to graduate and Flyers first round pick Ivan Provarov could be the best defenseman not currently playing in the NHL could find himself on the NHL roster next year. I think this will be a good series and the Rebels are going to want to put up a good fight to send a message to the Wheat Kings that should they advance they will be ready for them in the MasterCard Memorial Cup Tournament. This series starts Friday, April 22nd at 8:30 pm Eastern / 5:30 pm Pacific in Brandon.
Western Conference Final
BC2 Kelowna Rockets vs. US1 Seattle Thunderbirds
The Kelowna Rockets pulled off a huge series win and an upset over the Victoria Royals. The Royals lead the Rockets until 0.2 seconds left in the 3rd period when Justin Kirkland of the Rockets would score his second goal of the game to send it into overtime. After five minutes of overtime play, Calvin Thurkauf would score the winner to stun the Victoria crowd and send the Rockets to the third round. The Rockets will likely be considered underdogs again despite having home ice advantage as they will face the Seattle Thunderbirds. In order for Kelowna to make it out of the third round, they will need to find a way to shut down 2015 16th overall pick of the New York Islanders Matthew Barzal who has scored two goals and ten assists and is a player that I thought the Sharks would be interested in at #9 last year and joined many in shock as he fell down to 16 where he became an absolute steal. There is more on the line here than just a berth in the WHL finals if Red Deer wins their series the winner of this series will get an automatic berth into the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament. This series starts Friday, April 22nd at 10:05 pm Eastern / 7:05 pm Pacific in Kelowna.
Sharks Prospect Playoff Point Totals
|Player Name||Team||League||Games Played||Goals||Assists||Points||+/-||PIM|
|Timo Meier||Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||QMJHL||9||9||6||15||6||6|
|Cavan Fitzgerald||Shawinigan Cataractes||QMJHL||11||3||10||13||12||4|
|Alexis Vanier||Charlottetown Islanders*||QMJHL||12||6||4||10||-2||6|
|Jeremy Roy||Sherbrooke Phoenix*||QMJHL||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Dylan Sadowy||Barrie Colts||OHL||6||2||1||3||1||11|
|Kevin Labanc||Barrie Colts||OHL||11||6||16||22||16||14|
|Adam Helewka||Red Deer Rebels||WHL||12||8||4||12||-3||16|
|Rourke Chartier||Kelowna Rockets||WHL||14||5||6||11||2||7|
|Alex Schoenborn||Portland Winterhawks*||WHL||4||1||0||1||-3||8|
* = Team eliminated from playoffs.