Catching up on the latest news and notes from around the Canadian Hockey League as the calendar turns from May to June and we transition from our unconventional season’s end into the summer months.
Here’s a look at what’s been going on:
End of season salute
The final game of the 2019-20 CHL season was scheduled for Sunday May 31 in Kelowna where the Memorial Cup would have been presented to our national champions. Instead of celebrating one team, we’re all in this together. And we look forward to next season.
More Memorial Cup Memories
Sunday’s championship is just one of the annual traditions of the prestigious tournament that would have taken place over the weekend. Other schedule staples include the tiebreaker game on Thursday followed by Friday’s semi-final. Both days were remembered with some of history’s greatest moments played in those special games including tiebreaker winners like the 2009 Windsor Spitfires and 2012 Shawinigan Cataractes who would go on to win the title, and the 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings who got their title shot by winning the longest semi-final of all-time.
QMJHL launches new era
The QMJHL proudly unveiled a new logo ahead of its 2020 Entry Draft. Following the 50th anniversary celebrations of a year ago it was decided time to open a new chapter that now features a modernized design of the classic skate shaped trademark.
Virtual camps this summer
Hockey Canada announced this week that it has cancelled all summer camps for national teams through Sept. 1 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made with the health and safety of all coaches, staff and participants as the top priority. Various programming and training sessions will be held virtually this summer including the Program of Excellence goaltender development camp June 9-12, Canada’s national under-17 development camp July 19-25, and Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Development Camp July 27-31.
From Petes to NHL Playoffs?
In the days that followed news of the NHL’s return to play protocol, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Peterborough Petes forward Nick Robertson would be added to the club’s expanded playoff roster. The 18-year-old, chosen in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, led the CHL with 55 goals in 46 games this season. The league is hopeful that training camps can begin in early July.
Soul On Ice The Podcast
Since the CHL season ended, a pair of recent graduates including Los Angeles Kings prospect Akil Thomas of the Peterborough Petes and future Ryerson Rams defenceman Elijah Roberts from the Niagara IceDogs have been busy with a new venture. Soul On Ice The Podcast, which provides a current new age look at hockey and all that we love about the game, has now released 10 episodes. The most recent edition features a conversation with J.T Brown about social justice.
In another weekly snapshot of social media posts from around the league we continue to see CHL players from coast-to-coast staying active and also serving as role models in their respective communities. Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen thanks frontline workers, Ryan Winterton of the Hamilton Bulldogs takes part in a fun quarantine game, the Medicine Hat Tigers look back on the season with video and photo creativity, goaltender Alexis Shank of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens shows off how he’s maintained social distancing, Filip Koffer of the Prince George Cougars works out from his native Czech Republic.
At home activities
Looking for some fun activities to keep the kids busy? The Baie-Comeau Drakkar, London Knights, and Prince Albert Raiders have you covered below.
Construction well underway in Gatineau
The Gatineau Olympiques gave a sneak peak at construction of their new 4,000 seat home which is starting to take shape. Original plans targeted completion in November and when opened will replace the storied Robert Guertin Centre which was built back in 1957.
Voyer goes back to school
With the re-opening of select schools across Quebec some academic boards have reported staff shortages including a primary institution in Sherbrooke. Phoenix graduating forward Alex-Olivier Voyer has jumped at the opportunity to assist and has been spending a few hours every day helping out in his hometown by supervising a 5th grade class.
Kia’s Power to Give Program
Proud CHL partner Kia Canada has launched the Power to Give Program pledging $200,000 to Food Banks Canada and providing vehicles to help the organization serve those in need.
The Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Lethbridge Hurricanes are among the first clubs to show their support for the #HolidaysForHeroes program recently launched by CHL partner CIBC. The program encourages online nominations for healthcare heroes who could receive some of the 30 million Aventura Points in travel vouchers to be awarded.
Royals promote Price
The Victoria Royals have announced that Dan Price will now assume the role of General Manager & Head Coach. The St. Albert, AB, native originally joined the Royals during the 2016-17 season as the team’s assistant coach and was promoted to head coach prior to the 2017-18 campaign. He becomes the club’s third general manager.
QMJHL Entry Draft set for June 5-6
The next wave of QMJHL talent will be welcomed this coming weekend during the league’s annual Entry Draft beginning Friday night with first round selections followed by rounds 2-14 taking place on Saturday. The Olympiques hold an unprecedented three of the top four picks.
Five CHL stars sign NHL contracts
A fresh wave of signed NHL entry-level contracts could be expected in the coming weeks as clubs have been given an extension to July 1 to ink players from the 2018 draft.
The New York Islanders announced that they have come to terms with three of their previous picks including 2018 fifth rounder Blade Jenkins of the Saginaw Spirit, his teammate Cole Coskey who was a seventh round choice in 2019, and 2019 sixth round pick Felix Bibeau of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
The Vegas Golden Knights also announced that they have signed Windsor Spitfires defenceman Connor Corcoran who was a fifth round pick in 2018 and scored 54 points in 62 games this season.
Another defenceman, Declan Chisholm, has signed with the Winnipeg Jets nearly two years after being chosen by the club in the fifth round of the NHL Draft. The Peterborough Pete finished third in OHL scoring among rearguards this season with 69 points in 59 games.
Harvey-Pinard signs with Rocket
Rafael Harvey-Pinard, who hoisted the Memorial Cup as captain of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies last May, has signed an AHL contract with the Laval Rocket for 2020-21. He was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Draft and then competed this season as captain for his hometown Sagueneens scoring 78 points in 62 games.
U SPORTS Commitments
Two more members of the CHL’s graduating class of overage players have committed to U SPORTS programs for the 2020-21 season where they will use their league scholarship to continue their academic and hockey careers. The most recent players to announce this intent are Maxim Trepanier of the Shawinigan Cataractes who will join the Concordia Stingers, and former Leafs pick Zachary Bouthillier of the Saint John Sea Dogs who will attend UQTR and play for the Patriotes.
Final OHL award
The regional leagues have now officially wrapped up their award season with the OHL making one final announcement. Dallas Stars prospect Ty Dellandrea of the Flint Firebirds was named the 2019-20 recipient of the prestigious Mickey Renaud Captain’s Trophy for his leadership, passion, and dedication on and off the ice.
OHL All-Stars and Rookies
The OHL also announced its three All-Star teams recognizing 18 players across every position in addition to three coaches. The league also honours 12 first year players across two All-Rookie teams.
Forward Brett Budgell of the Charlottetown Islanders was the winner in the second of three Semi-Final matchups in the #CHLShowdown Playoffs. This stage of the competition brings together nine players who advanced by virtue of their Quarter-Final votes after being among the 24 weekly vote winners from the 2019-20 regular season. They’re all vying for the crown of the year’s top play as chosen by the fans at chlshowdown.ca.