Brunelle, Hull Advance to LeBel Conference Finals

By Bill Meltzer

With Hull Olympiques’ captain and top offensive performer Maxime Talbot out of the game after being assessed a spearing major and game misconduct for a second period incident with Francis Trudel, Hull hung tough and dispatched the Sherbrooke Castors by a 4-2 score to close out their LeBel Conference semi-final series in 5 games.

Hull successfully killed Talbot’s seven minute penalty and went on to put away Sherbrooke in the third period.

Jean-Michel Daoust helped pick up the slack with a pair of goals. Another key Hull performer, as expected, was Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mathieu Brunelle. The diminutive winger put away any hopes of a Sherbrooke comeback with a goal at 8:23 of the third period, capping off a lengthy shift that saw the Castors pinned in their own end.

The goal was Brunelle’s 10th of the playoffs, which leads all QMJHL players. Talbot leads all players with 24 points in 9 games (Brunelle has 17). The leader board stats are somewhat deceptive as the top two seeds in each conference receive first round byes. Hull, a three seed, had to play in the first round.

The Olympiques, who sport a gaudy 8-1 record in the post-season, will now face the Val-d’Or Foreurs in a best-of-seven conference final starting next Friday in Val-d’Or. The Foreurs cruised past the Shawinigan Cataractes 4-1 last night to end the other LeBel semi-final, also in five games.

Brunelle will be counted upon to come up big again for Hull. Talbot will sit out Game 1 of the Val-d’Or series, due to a one-game suspension stemming from the Trudel incident.

In other Flyers-related QMJHL news, the number one seeded Baie Comeau Drakkar closed out their Dilio Conference semi-final series with Quebec in 5 games by virtue of a 5-3 win. Tough guy Flyers prospect Thierry Douville had two points (one goal) and 10 penalty minutes in the series.

Meanwhile, out west in the WHL, Philadelphia prospect Jeff Woywitka’s Red Deer Rebels forged a 3 games to 2 series lead over the Medicine Hat Tigers by virtue of a 4-2 win. Five of the six goals scored were powerplay tallies. Woywitka did not figure in any scoring or penalties in the game. Overall, the defenseman, a member of the Canadian World Junior Championship squad, has 5 points (all assists) and a team-best +8 rating in 10 postseason contests.