With the calendar turning from March to April spring is officially in the air.
And even though there isn’t Canadian Hockey League action on the ice, there is still plenty of off-ice news and notes to catch up on.
Here’s a look at what’s been happening.
April 6, 2018, was the date of a tragic bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 members of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos with 13 others sustaining serious injuries. The impact of the horrific event was felt worldwide and the greater hockey community rallied with strength and support for those affected. Two years later, we remember them, and we remain #HumboldtStrong.
The next wave of CHL talent was introduced on Saturday with the completion of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection presented by Real Canadian Superstore. 300 players primarily born in 2004 were chosen in the 15-round process beginning with defenceman Ty Nelson of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens going first overall to the North Bay Battalion. Of the 20 first round picks, 18 will be eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft while two have late birthdays and will become eligible in 2023.
OHL players, staff, and teams are doing their part to help flatten the curve during the coronavirus pandemic with a new social media awareness campaign called #puckCOVID. Using the hashtag to post videos like those by Luke Moncada (North Bay), Nathan Dunkley (London), and Riley McCourt (Flint) about proper hand washing and social distancing practices are just some of the ways the program will encourage others to stay home and stay healthy.
Staying active at home
Part of staying healthy at home is also keeping your body and mind active. Players from coast-to-coast continue to show us ways in which they’ve stayed busy including Jake Lee (Kelowna) juggling, Teddy Sawyer (Ottawa) playing his guitar, and Samuel Houde (Chicoutimi) showing off some sweet stick skills.
#JakeSaves raises over $26,000
Los Angeles Kings prospect Jacob Ingham of the Kitchener Rangers proudly announced a total of over $26,000 was raised through his 2019-20 #JakeSaves campaign. The funds, generated in donations for every save he made this season, will help support Hockey Gives Blood and Canadian Blood Services.
Woolley’s Warriors raises over $40,000
Another charitable program this season saw over $40,000 raised by Owen Sound Attack defenceman Mark Woolley and his campaign Woolley’s Warriors. The funds raised in support of Diabetes Canada will help kids attend D-Camps this summer.
The Hillis Foundation
Sticking in the OHL’s Midwest Division, a new campaign is on the rise courtesy of Guelph Storm captain Cam Hillis. The Hillis Foundation works to inspire all kids through the power of sport while raising money for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program.
Sportsnet’s 31 Thoughts
If you’re looking for more feel good stories, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has you covered in a recent edition of his popular 31 Thoughts column. There’s some CHL flavour this week with Saginaw Spirit forward Cole Perfetti, Flint Firebirds goaltender Anthony Popovich, Tri-City Americans forward Jadon Joseph, twins Will and Beck Warm of the Victoria Royals and Edmonton Oil Kings, and Moncton Wildcats forward Jeremy McKenna.
CHL teams continue to do their part in helping local health agencies with donations of Personal Protective Equipment. The latest example comes from Sarnia where Sting Athletic Therapist Amy Mausser has helped the Central Lambton Family Health Team.
Vaughn shifts sports production
One week after sharing the story of Bauer, an official CHL Equipment Supplier shifting their production to facemasks for healthcare workers, we proudly stand behind Vaughn Custom Sports who is now doing their part for the healthcare community by converting their operations to make gowns.
Canada Life contributes $1 million
Proud CHL partner Canada Life is also doing their part to address COVID-19 challenges within our communities with a joint contribution of $1 million that will support local and national food banks, vulnerable groups, and small businesses.
Kubota celebrates 130 years
We’re also proud to recognize a special milestone for CHL partner Kubota Canada, part of the Kubota Corporation, that is celebrating 130 years.
QMJHL Golden Puck Awards
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is getting ready to recognize the year’s best with their annual Golden Puck awards. Announcements of individual award finalists is already underway and will continue daily through April 21 on web and social media platforms.
WHL Conference All-Stars
The Western Hockey League award season is also underway starting with the announcement of both Western and Eastern Conference Second All-Star Teams for the 2019-20 regular season.
Dichow commits to Wolves
As we look ahead to the 2020-21 CHL season, we welcome Montreal Canadiens prospect Frederik Dichow who has announced his commitment to join the Sudbury Wolves. The Danish goaltender was a fifth round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and then a first round choice in the CHL Import Draft.
Maple Leafs sign Kral
The Toronto Maple Leafs recently announced a pair of entry-level contract signings including defenceman Filip Kral of the Spokane Chiefs. Kral was a fifth round pick by the club in 2018 and scored 49 points through 53 games of his third WHL season. The signing was announced the same day that former Medicine Hat Tiger Kristians Rubins had also come to terms with the big club.
Marlies sign CHL pair
The Toronto Marlies have signed two of the CHL’s top overage graduates to two-year AHL contracts. Noel Hoefenmayer of the Ottawa 67’s, who led the entire circuit in scoring among defencemen with 82 points in 58 games, and forward Jeremy McKenna of the Moncton Wildcats, who also finished 2019-20 with 82 points in just 57 games and a four-year QMJHL career that included 137 goals.
Hayes joins Golden Knights organization
Overage graduating defenceman Zack Hayes from the Prince Albert Raiders has also signed an AHL contract joining the Vegas Golden Knights organization. The 2019 WHL champion finished his final season with 23 points in 60 games.
U SPORTS Commitments
A large number of CHL overage graduates are also making plans for the 2020-21 season that include the continuation of both their hockey and academic careers with U SPORTS using the league’s scholarship program.
Among the growing list of commitments include soon to be Ottawa GeeGees Anthony Poulin (Victoriaville), Jerome Gravel (Victoriaville), Keenan MacIsaac (Baie-Comeau), Tristan Berube (Acadie-Bathurst), and Brad Chenier (Sudbury). Anthony Popovich (Flint), Jakob Brahaney (Kingston), and Calvin Martin (Mississauga) are set to join the Queen’s Gaels, while Nick Isaacson (Mississauga) and Aidan Brown (Barrie) will become Guelph Gryphons, Daniel Walker (Oshawa) and Nick King (Kingston) will be Waterloo Warriors, Thomas Ethier (Victoriaville) and David Noel (Val-d’Or) join the UQTR Patriotes, and Gabriel Proulx (Baie-Comeau) joins the Concordia Stingers.
Kyle Crnkovic of the Saskatoon Blades was victorious in the second of eight Quarter-Final matchups in the #CHLShowdown Playoffs that features 24 weekly vote winners from the 2019-20 regular season vying for the crown of the year’s top play as chosen by the fans. New matchups will launch every Tuesday afternoon at chlshowdown.ca.