QMJHL: Two Against the Cats

By Yves Langlois

TWO LOSSES BUT TWO POINTS AGAINST TWO KINDS OF CATS

Thursday night, two of the three second place teams in general standings teams met as the Victoriaville Tigres came to Baie-Comeau. It was a two phase game. At first the home team seemed to take control of the game with a two goals lead; an almost end to end goal by captain Lehoux and a wrap around by league scoring leader Linglet.

But after a wicked wrist shot goal by Matthew Lombardi (2000 7th round draft of the Edmonton Oilers) things seemed to turn around. With two power play goals in third period, the Tigres had the game in control. But, as the game was coming to an end, fans were beginning to leave the premises and, bingo, one lone second before the buzzer went on, Yannick Lehoux put the fun back in the place by scoring the equalizer.

Unfortunately for the fans still present, overtime was to be fatal for the Drakkar as Victoriaville Mathieu Brunelle score the winning goal (his forth points of the night) at 1:50 of the 5 minute period.

Prospect-wise in this game all four hopeful draft players of the Drakkar were undressed and for Victoriaville none of the dressed 2002 prospects seems to rise out from the lot.

It was a veteran and an almost playoff type of game with eight players drafted by NHL teams in hands: the five ones of the Drakkar and Victoriaville lw Lombardi, g Jean François Nogues (L.A. Kings 5th pick of 1999) right wing Carl Mallette (Atlanta Trashers 4th pick of of 2000). Unfortunately left wing Antoine Vermette (Ottawa Senators 2nd pick of 2000) with a concussion, is still in the injured list.

Shots on goals:
kkar: 40
Tigres : 19

Friday night, revenge night for the young Cats? In the first period two Moncton players encounters some big hits. The first one by ‘the train’ 17-year-old Martin Mandeville and the second one by ‘the bull’ 16-year-old (6 feet 3 inches 200 pounds) Jean-François Jacques. Jacques, Drakkar first round pick of the last QMJHL draft, was ejected from the game in a questionable penalty for checking from behind. Hockey wise both teams had some chances and the surprising Benoit Mondou net the first one, on the power play.

The second period belonged to the Wildcats with two power play goals, one from Collin Circelli and the other one by number one draft pick Steeve Bernier. In the third rookie Jean Philippe Martin scored from Mondou just to see Teddy Kyres put the Cats ahead, once again.

Fortunately for the Sailors, for the second night in a row, captain Lehoux, went to the rescue with the equalizer. But in o-t, at 0.34, the young guys from Moncton had the final answer from the stick of future star player Steeve Bernier.

Shots on goals:
-Comeau :42
Moncton :37

From the NHL 2002 Draft point of view, Moncton had 9 eligible players in hands. From those Ryan Salvis seemed to have a lot of speed and Patrick Thorensen is the league leading rookie scorer with 21 points in 17 games. The small defenseman 17 years old James Sanford is one of the league top scoring defenseman. The team seems to have two good 17 years old goaltenders in Matthew Davis and top rookie Corey Crawford. Crawford, a big goalie, was able stop most of the shots but seemed to be unable to control rebounds and will have to learn to locate and freeze the puck in the crease. For the local team the enforcer Roy has done his job. For the others one Mandeville (except the hit) and Lachance didn’t play a lot or so it seems.

So after this home stand, with 82 shots on goal and only 6 goals out of them, as the coach and GM said: “Are we missing a pair of scoring hands or those hands are there but…invisible” ? With the offensive fire power of the Drakkar, things have to be changing soon… or with the first trading period very near, who knows what will happen