QMJHL Lebel All-Stars double up on the Eastern Conference OHL’ers
Ottawa, ON – The first installment of the annual Hershey Cup took place last night in Canada’s capital, showcasing some of the top talent from the Ontario and Quebec hockey leagues. The QMJHL Lebel Conference All-Star team defeated the OHL Eastern Conference All-Stars by the score of 4-2, thanks to some timely goaltending from its goalies. This game was the first of three Hershey Cup matches, the second of which will take place in Red Deer, Saskatchewan on Wednesday, January 23 (OHL Western v WHL Eastern). The third will take place in Colisee de Rimouski on Wednesday, February 6 (WHL Western v QMJHL Dilio Conference). Among the abundance of stars participating in the match, top prospects Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Eric Staal, Patrick O’Sullivan, Pascal Leclaire, Lukas Krajicek, Mark Popovic and Brendan Bell were scheduled to attend. Hemsky, though, did not suit up because of an injury. Mario Durocher (of the Victoriaville Tigers) and Brian Kilrea (of the Ottawa 67’s) coached the QMJHL stars and the OHL stars, respectively.
1st PeriodQMJHL Lebel got off to a quick start, taking the lead at 1:23 of the period, as Frederic Faucher beat Peter Budaj, with a wrist shot upstairs. Laval showed some excellent aggressiveness, with top-notch puck control, outshooting the OHL’ers by a 9-2 margin. With Jason Spezza in the box for holding, QMJHL Laval scored their second goal, courtesy of a loose puck in front of the net that was deposited into the net by Victoriaville’s Matthew Lombardi, who put it up high, out of the reach of Budaj. At the other end, Olivier Michaud stopped all 13 shots fired at him in the period, making several spectacular stops, including a point-blank robbery on Jamie Johnston. QMJHL Laval didn’t stop there. With about a minute to go in the period, Frederic Faucher registered his second point of the period, finishing off on a beautiful three-way passing play. Shawinigan’s Jonathan Bellemare perfectly set up Faucher, who easily deposited the puck into the yawning net.
2nd PeriodDrummondville Voltigeurs’ netminder, Jean-Francois Racine made his mark on the game early, by stopping Jason Spezza on a two-on-one opportunity. Racine then flashed the leather, with a lightning-quick glove save on Barrie’s Blaine Down. Finally, at the period’s 14:02 mark, the OHL’ers got back into the game, thanks to a flawless backhand pass from Lukas Krajicek that reached Ottawa 67 Zenon Konopka in front of the net, cutting the lead to 2. Konopka was one of the three Ottawa 67’s participating in the game; the other two being Brendan Bell and Miguel Delisle. Although the action was not incredibly high-scoring, both teams showed a willingness to compete and play with intensity. Delise and Montreal Rocket Louis Robitaille got into a couple of heated scraps in the 2nd and 3rd periods. St. Mike’s goalie Andy Chiodo stood his ground, stopping all 11 shots that he faced in the 2nd period. Chiodo, a butterfly goalie, plays a very quick-moving and intense style in nets.
3rd PeriodAt the 1:48 mark of the period, Blaine Down made it a one-goal game beating a screened Pascal Leclaire with a slap shot from the slot. The crowd favorite Brendan Bell and 17-year old Eric Staal received well-deserved assists with some hard work for the loose puck along the boards. The Hull Olympiques’ two-way center Maxime Talbot was involved in a serious knee-on-knee collision later on in the period. It looked serious and he had to be helped off the ice by the team’s medical attendants. There is no word on his condition at the moment. Jason Pominville put the game out of reach with less than 2 minutes to go, putting the QMJHL Laval all-stars back up by two. It was a familiar story, as Pominville is known for his scoring ways with the Shawinigan Cataractes, where he has amassed 42 goals and 84 points in 41 games. All in all, the match turned out to be competitive and well-paced. There was a lack of offensive fireworks and spectacular plays that we are used to seeing at these events, but the battle for provincial bragging rights turned out to be well worth the watch.
Most Valuable Players:
Ont. – Brendan Bell – set up a goal and played a well-rounded two-way game.
Que. – Frederic Faucher – A goal and an assist for the high-scoring left winger.
Final Score: QMJHL Lebel Conference All-Stars – 4, OHL Eastern Conference All-Stars – 2.
1-0 Que 1:20- Faucher (Bellemare)
Pen. Ont 5:12- Spezza- Holding
2-0 Que 6:44- Lombardi (Unassisted) PP
Pen. Que 8:45- Groulx- Tripping
Pen. Que 13:56- Lutes- Slashing
3-0 Que 18:15- Faucher (Bellemare, David)
Pen. Que 18:53- Lombardi- Tripping
Pen. Ont 19:59- Chambers- Slashing
Pen. Que 10:08- Brunelle- Slashing
3-1 Ont 14:02- Konopka (Krajicek, Johnson)
Pen. Ont 19:55- Delisle- Roughing
Pen. Que 19:55- Robitaille- Roughing
3-2 Ont 1:48- Down (Bell, Staal)
Pen. Que 7:45- Pominville- High Sticking
Pen. Ont 11:11- Renzi- Roughing
Pen. Ont 17:49- Reitz- Roughing
4-2 Que 18:08- Pominville (Groulx, Bellemare)
Pen. Que 19:15- Corbiel- High Sticking
Shots on Goal – Ontario, 43 (13, 16, 14); Quebec, 32 (12, 11, 9)
Ontario – Budaj (12 shots, 9 saves), Chiodo (11 shots, 11 saves), Chant (9 shots, 8 saves)
Quebec – Michaud (13 shots, 13 saves), Racine (16 shots, 15 saves), Leclaire (14 shots, 13 saves)
Worthy of Note:
Jason Spezza, the newest Belleville Bull, didn’t register a point in the game, but had several excellent scoring chances, including a 2-on-1 and a partial breakaway. It is interesting to point out that Spezza took a hard shot on net in both opportunities and avoided risky passes. Overall, his performance was still below expectations, but he showed some positive aspects in his outing.
The three francophone goalies, Leclaire, Michaud and Racine looked excellent. Racine, was the most tested of the three and he made 2-3 spectacular glove saves. The Leafs might have a steal on their hands.
Out of the couple 2003 NHL draft-eligible kids (Staal and O’Sullivan), Eric Staal was the most impressive. He worked very well along the boards and distributed the puck effectively. O’Sullivan (the youngest player in the tournament, at the age of 16) looked a little rusty, but his ice time wasn’t on par with Spezza’s or Konopka’s.
Andy Chiodo looks a lot like a young Felix Potvin. Very aggressive, intense and he’s already had a couple of fights this year.