A closer look at league news and social media highlights from across the Canadian Hockey League including NHL Draft celebrations, new contracts, some action from the ice, and more.
Thanksgiving weekend in the CHL had a different look and feel to it in 2020 on the heels of the NHL Draft and with far fewer games on the ice than what we’re used to. But that didn’t stop teams from coast-to-coast from pausing to give thanks.
Thankful for family and celebrations
A big part of Thanksgiving is spending time with family which is reason enough to celebrate, however having the holiday just days after one of the most exciting times of the year makes it even more special. Check out the video post below for a compilation of the CHL’s 19 first round NHL Draft picks with their families, plus some other nice moments from the draft like Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings with his big family, the Shawinigan Cataractes cheering for their teammate Mavrik Bourque, and Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting sharing the day with his father Yanic, 29 years after he was a draft pick himself.
Welcome to the Big Apple
The CHL’s biggest star is headed to the NHL’s biggest city! Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic was the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the New York Rangers and received a special welcome from afar as many of the city’s landmarks were lit up in his honour.
Second overall pick Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves got some special welcomes of his own following his selection by the Los Angeles Kings. Rapper Snoop Dogg gave him a special shout out on Twitter, he joked with Lakers legend Magic Johnson, received messages from the Rams, and a nice video from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Lafreniere and Byfield react to ratings
EA Sports releases NHL 21 on October 16 and top NHL Draft picks Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield got a sneak peak at their player ratings in the fun video below.
Tigres on top
On the ice, action continued in the QMJHL with 14 games played over the long weekend. The Victoriaville Tigres picked up a pair of road wins over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and currently sit in first place with a perfect 4-0-0-0 record.
Simoneau leads scoring race
Drummondville Voltigeurs captain and reigning CHL Humanitarian of the Year Xavier Simoneau is the first player to reach double digits in scoring this season counting six goals and four assists for 10 points over four games. His last game also landed him a major milestone surpassing 200 career points.
Olympiques honour Hull Festivals
The Gatineau Olympiques paid homage to their history over the weekend with commemorative sweaters in tribute to the Hull Festivals who played in the QMJHL from 1973-76. The club would then be known as the Hull Olympiques until 2003 shortly after the amalgamation of Hull and Gatineau.
Broncos and Bulldogs bring back ice
While hockey is underway in the QMJHL, we inch closer to the return of the WHL and OHL. Part of that process began in Swift Current and Hamilton where the Broncos and Bulldogs both watched with excitement this past week as their ice was installed.
Oil Kings read virtually
Social distancing protocols have changed the way that teams connect with their communities, but the Edmonton Oil Kings show how you can still find ways to make it all work. With help from technology, players Scott Atkinson, Jalen Luypen, Ethan Cap, and Josh Williams were able to read to students in eight classrooms across the city in a virtual setting.
Rangers fill the bus
The Kitchener Rangers made sure it was a Happy Thanksgiving across Waterloo Region. The team partnered with local grocers and used their bus to collect donations for the Food Bank with enough supplies to provide 6,646 meals to those in need.
USA Hockey Evaluation Camp
Preparations for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship took place over the weekend in Plymouth as the U.S. National Junior Team held their Evaluation Camp. Among the 39 players invited were five from the CHL including goaltender Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips), defenceman Hunter Skinner (London Knights), plus forwards Cross Hanas (Portland Winterhawks), Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton Bulldogs) and Lukas Svejkovsky (Medicine Hat Tigers). The event is scheduled to proceed in the Edmonton bubble over the holiday season.
Coe pens letter to Dad
North Bay Battalion forward Brandon Coe was a recent author on the popular website The Players’ Tribune where he wrote a beautiful letter to his Dad who has been fighting cancer since 2016. Coe was a fourth round pick of the San Jose Sharks in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Wisdom joins Soul On Ice
The Soul On Ice podcast, first started by CHL grads Elijah Roberts and Akil Thomas, continues to connect fans with stories about players of colour who are changing the face of the game. Episode 13 features an interview with Zayde Wisdom of the Kingston Frontenacs who was a fourth round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2020 NHL Draft and recipient of the E.J McGuire Award of Excellence by NHL Central Scouting.
Four are first to sign NHL contracts
Just days after the dust settled on the 2020 NHL Draft, NHL teams began signing their future stars to entry-level contracts. A total of four CHL players fall into this category beginning with first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic who made things official with the New York Rangers. The Philadelphia Flyers also signed a pair of prospects including first round pick Tyson Foerster of the Barrie Colts and fourth round pick Zayde Wisdom of the Kingston Frontenacs. The Carolina Hurricanes also signed second rounder Vasiliy Ponomarev of the Shawinigan Cataractes.