The Ottawa Senators typically dominate news both on this site (unsurprisingly) and in Ottawa media; however, the NHL is not the only hockey team of interest in the National Capital Region. People of all ages play hockey at various talent levels here in Ottawa and Gatineau; from timbits, to the CCHL, from CIS to the CHL. In fact the NCR is one of the few (possibly only) metropolis areas where there are two separate CHL teams from two separate leagues. On the Ontario side of the river there is the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League while on the Quebec side there is the Olympiques de Gatineau, part of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
To casual hockey fans it may be a bit of a surprise these leagues are about to start their regular season, weeks before the NHL. Many of the junior teams are lacking their top talent as they are up in the NHL camps trying to make their professional jump early.
The Olympiques and the 67's had their training camps in early August with many cuts already made. Gatineau has played 5 pre-season games with a record of 1-4 losing 5-2 and 4-1 to Blainville-Boisbriand, 6-5 to Val-d'Or and 4-3 to Rouyn-Noranda while beating Rouyn-Noranda 7-1.
On the Ottawa side of the river new coach Jeff Brown is excited to lead a young 67's team to their first playoff appearance in over two years. The 67's have moved back to their old stadium, the former Civic Centre, now TD Place, where they are playing underneath the bleachers of the local CFL team. Leading them in net this year is young goaltender Liam Herbst.
The 67's and Olympiques were scheduled to play each other twice in pre-season but one of the games was cancelled due to a storm, power outages, and concerns with ice conditions. With teams sitting out their top players, the 67's managed to emerge as victors with a final score of 4-3. Ottawa goals were scored by Ben Fanjoy, Artur Tyanulin, Sam Studnicka and Nathan Todd with Herbst playing in net. The Olympiques goals were scored by Alexandre Carrier, Phil Pietroniro and Alexandre Alain. The possession estimates indicate Gatineau was in control of the puck for most of the game at 57.5%.
The QMJHL is the first league to start playing this year with games starting as early as Wednesday, September 10th. The Olympiques don't play their first game till Friday, September 12th against Val-d'Or at home.
The 67's do not commence their regular season until the end of September.
Players to Watch
There are a number of potential players on both teams' rosters who are draft eligible this year. These are the players you are going to want to watch and see how they develop this year with largers roles. Those who are performing well will likely be picked up by an NHL team next June while those who do not, will be back to the grind next season.
- Travis Konecny RW is likely the most exciting player to watch this year and is currently pegged to be taken mid-first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Last year as a 16-year-old rookie he scored 70 points in 63 games which placed him 34th in the league in points, but first of all rookies. This was good enough to earn him OHL Rookie of the Year. This summer he captained Canada's U18 Team. He's one of the 67s best players in a long time.
- Travis Barron LW was drafted this summer by the Ottawa 67's in the OHL Priority Selection draft, first round, third overall. He was with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens last season where he put up 41 points in 30 games. While not draft eligible until 2016, it will be worth watching to see how this 16-year-old performs in his first jump to the OHL.
- Jeremiah Addison RW this 2012 OHL first rounder was acquired from the Saginaw Spirit (for Connor Brown and picks), because of his early birthday this will be his third season in the OHL. In 2012 he scored 16 points in 68 games and then last year slightly increased to 17 points in 61 games. Not very promising from an NHL draft perspective so let's see how he plays on a new team.
- Dante Salituro C will also be playing in his third season with the 67's after scoring 40 points in 64 games and last year scoring 59 points in 68 games.
- Artur Tyanulin RW will see his first OHL action this year. The young Russian put up 21 points in 23 games with the MHL B last season.
- Dylan McDonald C played in 4 games last year earning 0 points and a -2. He did play 42 games in the CCHL with Cumberland scoring 12 points.
- Ben Fanjoy RW only played in two games last season with the 67's where he had 0 points and a -1. In the same year he played with the CCHL's Kanata Stallions where he scored 15 points in 54 games.
- Troy Henley D played his first season with the 67's last year where as a 16-year-old he put up 8 points in 56 games. Good numbers for a young defencemen but he will have to continue to improve upon that this year.
- Matt Mercer D will play his first OHL season this year. Last season he was in the OJHL with Orangeville where he scored 11 assist (0 goals) in 49 games.
The Olympiques have not yet published an official roster but they had many draft eligible players on the pre-season roster. Some may not stick in the QMJHL but those who do are the ones most likely to be selected. Some players to watch are:
- Pascal Laberge C was selected second overall in this year's QMJHL draft and he's likely to be playing in Gatineau this season. He is not eligible to be drafted this year and last year with Chateauguay in the QMAAA he scored 43 points in 40 games.
- Matt Sartoris D was also drafted in the first round this year, at 12th overall. Also not eligible to be drafted in 2015, he put up 34 points in 34 games with the Weeks Major Midgets of the NSMMHL.
- Alex Dostie C was selected 10th overall in the 2013 QMJHL draft. In his first season he put up 25 poitns in 48 games with the Olympiques.
- Alexandre Alain C selected ninth overall in the 2013 QMJHL draft. He split the 2013-2014 season between the QMJHL and QMAAA, spending only five games in Gatineau where he put up 0 points, and a -5 in 12 games. He then spent 35 games, putting up 23 points, in the QMAAA (seven less than the year prior). He seems to have hit the ups and downs of puck luck but he's going to need a much stronger showing this year.
- Jonathan Bourcier RW is entering his second year in the QMJHL after putting up 17 points in 56 games last season and ending up with a -7.
- Yakov Trenin LW is another Russian import who spent last season in the MHL, putting up 14 points in 22 games.
- Felix Gagnon LW saw a brief stint in Gatineau last year for two games in which he managed an assist. He then went back to the QMAAA where he scored 13 points in 35 games.
- Felix Paquet LW had a disappointing season last year in the QMAAA only earning two points in 37 games as a forward. He may not even spend the whole season in Gatineau.
- Mitchell Lundholm LW will hope to improve on his seven points in 59 games with Sherbrooke last year. It will be his second QMJHL season so he will need to improve on those numbers to hopefully be drafted.
- Alexandre Landreville C looks to improve upon 22 points in 42 games after last season in the QMAAA with Gatineau.
- Tommy Lapierre C returns to Gatineau after his first campaign in which he put up nine points in 51 games.
- Peter Woulds C likely is not going to play in Gatineau this year. His last year saw him produce four points in 48 games with the Woodstock Slammers of the MJAHL.
- William Blackburn C was teammates with Landreville last year in Gatineau and ended up scoring 11 points in 38 games.
- Alexandre Carrier D is one of the few Gatineau defencemen who will be draft eligible this year. He spent the last two years with Gatineau and even wore the A last year. In the last two seasons he put up seven and 28 points in 50 and 67 games respectively.
- Tom Pajonkowski's D draft prospects are not that bright right now. The defencemen put up seven points last year in 31 games with the QJHL's Acad. St-Louis Arsenal.
- Ryan Coughlin G is the only draft eligible goalie for both teams this year. Goalies are very wild in their numbers and hard to predict as we know. Last year in the QMAAA he put up a .876 save percentage with Chateauguay. Those numbers will need to be higher to get the attention of scouts.