May’s home stretch is underway and another national holiday, this time south of the border, is behind us meaning summer is quickly approaching.
Here’s a rundown on that and more from across the Canadian Hockey League.
Observed annually on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is an American holiday that honours the brave men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. The holiday was celebrated on social media by our friends south of the border.
Snowbirds fly home
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds flew home to Moose Jaw arriving a week following the tragic accident in Kamloops. The body of Captain Jennifer Casey, the Snowbirds Public Affairs Officer who sadly died in the crash, returned to her home in Halifax. The Warriors have a special relationship with the Snowbirds and often partner throughout the season, while Casey was a former member of the Mooseheads radio broadcast team.
Memorial Cup Memories
May just isn’t the same without the Memorial Cup which is why in lieu of live action the CHL is rebroadcasting championship games from the last decade. The Memorial Cup Memories series is officially underway and launched with a special debut of a documentary film by Aaron and Angela Bell that shares stories of some of the history’s greatest major junior teams.
More Memorial Cup Memories
One couldn’t help being nostalgic over the weekend imagining life under normal circumstances when the 2020 Memorial Cup presented by Kia was scheduled to begin in Kelowna. Social media provided a great outlet for reminiscing with flashbacks to opening night highlights and ceremonies from a year ago, traditional theme threads, and a glimpse at the promo video that helped the Rockets land their successful bid.
Courage for Crete-Belzile
It is with sadness that the Sherbrooke Phoenix announced Monday that 19-year-old defenceman Olivier Crete-Belzile has been diagnosed with nodular Hodgkin lymphoma. The Quebec native played 54 games this season for the CHL’s top ranked team and will begin treatments this week.
Renaud family donates $10,000 to COVID-19 relief
In memory of Mickey Renaud, his family, in association with the Windsor Spitfires, have announced a donation of $10,000 to the Windsor Covid Relief Fund through the Windsor Essex Community Foundation (WECF). The donation originated from a benefactor who was greatly impacted by the former captain’s passing in 2008.
A letter from Jax
Young Kitchener Rangers fan, Jaxan Brenneman, was in the news last week after writing a letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offering ideas for the league’s return to play protocol. The 10-year-old, who lives with cerebral palsy, was thrilled when he received a response from Bettman in the mail. Check out the link below for more on this heartwarming story.
Surfing social media uncovered more examples this week of CHL players staying active and making a difference from home. Thomas Johnston of the Ottawa 67’s caught the eye of the NHL with his backyard play, Ashton Reesor and Brayden Guy of the Sarnia Sting recognize local heroes, Jeremie Poirier of the Saint John Sea Dogs hopes to raise money for #NovaScotiaStrong, Keltie Jeri-Leon of the Seattle Thunderbirds keeps fit, Giovanni Vallati of the Oshawa Generals gears up for golf, and Nathael Roy of the Sherbrooke Phoenix shows off his training quarters.
The Erie Otters are staying active and inspired others to do the same by participating in a virtual 3km walk, run, or ride. Fans could download a fitness tracking app to monitor progress and post times, and were encouraged to share photos and videos to social media for a chance to win prizes. The posts below by head coach Chris Hartsburg and captain Jack Duff offer a glimpse at the fun had by all.
#FitforFood Virtual Race
Another virtual race over the weekend was run by Eric Samtleben, an ambassador for the Purolator Tackle Hunger program, who put his best foot forward while raising funds for a great cause.
Purboo commits to Varsity Blues
Another member of the league’s overage class of graduates has committed to a U SPORTS program for the 2019-20 season. Cole Purboo, who played four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires where he won a Memorial Cup in 2017, will use his scholarship package to study at the University of Toronto and play for the Varsity Blues men’s hockey team.
Regional league awards
Awards season reached its pinnacle last week across the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL with the introduction of some of the league’s top prize recipients for 2019-20.
In the QMJHL, Kevin Mandolese of the Cape Breton Eagles was announced as Goaltender of the Year, Jordan Spence of the Moncton Wildcats was named Defenceman of the Year, and Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic was named Player of the Year receiving the coveted Michel-Briere Trophy. Jocelyn Thibault of the Sherbrooke Phoenix was also announced as the league’s General Manager of the Year.
In the OHL, Goaltender of the Year honours went to Nico Daws of the Guelph Storm who became the league’s first recipient of the Jim Rutherford Trophy. Noel Hoefenmayer of the Ottawa 67’s was named Defenceman of the Year, and his teammate Marco Rossi earned the prestigious Red Tilson Trophy for Most Outstanding Player of the Year. Additionally, referee Jason Faist earned The ‘Bodie’ Character Award for Officials, while James Boyd of the 67’s became the first recipient of the Jim Gregory Trophy for General Manager of the Year.
In the WHL, Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips was named Goaltender of the Year, Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs won his second straight Defenceman of the Year honour, and league top scorer Adam Beckman of the Chiefs received the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy for WHL Player of the Year.
With all of their individual awards presented, the QMJHL announced its first and second All-Star teams and one All-Rookie unit.
Forward Dalton Duhart of the Saginaw Spirit was the winner in the first 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.