Tremblay, Gatineau advance to QMJHL finals

By Al Alven






Tremblay, Gatineau advance to QMJHL finals

In just his
first season as the staring goaltender for the Gatineau Olympiques, David Tremblay is heading to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
finals.  

 

The
Philadelphia Flyers prospect made 25 saves on Monday night, helping his team to
a 3-2 overtime victory over the host Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the decisive Game
6 of the league semifinals.

 

Tremblay is
the last of the Flyers’ amateur prospects to be playing for his regular team
this season. Ontario Hockey League forwards Jeff Carter (Sault Ste.
Marie Greyhounds) and Stefan Ruzicka (Owen Sound Attack) are
currently playing with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League
after agreeing to amateur try-out contracts.

 

University
of Wisconsin goaltender Bernd Bruckler is also still in action, as he is
currently serving as the backup to Reinhard Divas for Team Austria at the World
Championships in the Czech Republic.

 

Tremblay
was a major factor in the semifinal series against Chicoutimi, going 4-2 with
one shutout, a 2.10 goals against average and a .890 save percentage. He
out-dueled Edmonton Oilers prospect Jeff
Drouin-Deslauriers
, who went 2-4 with a 4.88 GAA and .872 save percentage.

 

The
Sagueneens’ loss spelled the end of junior career of another Flyers prospect, Rosario Ruggeri. The steady defenseman
reportedly agreed to terms with the NHL team earlier this month, though an
official announcement has not been made.

 

He
is expected to make his professional debut with the Philadelphia Phantoms of
the American Hockey League next season. 

 

Meanwhile,
Tremblay and the Olympiques are one step closer to capturing the Canadian
Hockey League’s ultimate prize – the Memorial Cup.

 

The
team will face the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL finals. The Wildcats disposed
of the Rimouski Oceanic in the semifinals, four games to one. 

 

Tremblay
was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round (140th overall) of the
2003 NHL Entry Draft. He was the first of three netminders taken by the team,
preceding Rejean Beauchemin (sixth
round, 191st overall) and Ville
Hostikka (sixth round, 193rd
overall).  

 

The
6-2, 185 lb. backstop is cut in the mold of the “traditional” French Canadian
goaltender. That is, he is a butterfly, paddle-down stylist who takes away the
low shot and relies on his athleticism and reflexes to make the difficult
saves.

 

Tremblay’s
lightning quick glove hand has been well-noted by scouts and observers, as has
his ability to handle the puck calmly and effectively. 

 

The
Hull, Quebec native made his QMJHL debut in 2001-02 in a brief cameo appearance
with his hometown Olympiques. Since that time, he has exhibited tremendous,
steady improvement and an emerging skill level appropriate for a future NHL
hopeful.

 

Tremblay
received his first real exposure at the major junior level last season, serving
as a backup for overager Eric Lafrance.
In 30 regular season appearances, he registered a 14-9-2 record, with a 2.82
goals against average and .897 save percentage.

 

Those
numbers are very solid for a rookie in the offensive-oriented “Q.” By
comparison, Lafrance was 25-20-2 with a 3.14 GAA and .885 save percentage in 50
games.

 

The
Olympiques went on to capture the league championship before ultimately falling
to the Kitchener Rangers (and 2003 Flyer draftee Mike Richards) in the
Memorial Cup title game, 6-3.

 

Tremblay
racked up a mere eight minutes of playing time in the QMJHL playoffs and did
not appear in the Memorial Cup tournament, but he did soak up valuable
experience as his team played well into the spring. 

 

This
season, with Lafrance departed, Tremblay has stepped into the spotlight. His
first season as a starting goaltender has been a rousing success, as he has
played at a high level from the start of the campaign with few bad stretches in
between.

 

In
the regular season, he helped the Olympiques to the Western Division title and
a first round playoff bye, posting a 33-10-3 record. He ranked third in the
circuit in wins, fourth in shutouts (3), third amongst starters in GAA (2.63)
and sixth among starters in save percentage (.908). 

 

He
has been equally effective in the playoffs, posting a 8-2 record, one shutout,
a 2.02 GAA and .912 save percentage in 10 games to this point. The Olympiques
swept the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies with ease in the first round, before
eliminating Chicoutimi in the semifinals.

 

Now,
only Moncton stands in the team’s way of getting another opportunity to play
for the Memorial Cup.

 

Tremblay’s
prospect stock has risen sharply in light of the spectacular season he has had
so far. If he can help take his team to the next level, he will surely gain
international recognition as one of the top amateur netminders in the world.

 

 

 

QMJHL Finals Schedule

 

Game 1   
April 30  (7:35 p.m.)   
Moncton Wildcats at Gatineau Olympiques

Game 2   
May 2  (7:05 p.m.)   
Gatineau Olympiques at Moncton Wildcats

Game 3   
May 4  (7:35 p.m.)   
Moncton Wildcats at Gatineau Olympiques

Game 4   
May 7  (7:05 p.m.)   
Gatineau Olympiques at Moncton Wildcats

Game 5*   
May 9  (7:05 p.m.)   
Moncton Wildcats at Gatineau Olympiques

Game 6*    May
11  (7:05 p.m.)   
Gatineau Olympiques at Moncton Wildcats

Game 7*   
May 12  (7:35 p.m.)   
Moncton Wildcats at Gatineau Olympiques

 

*
= if necessary