Huskies Race To Quebec Title
These Huskies are purebreds.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies didn’t exactly come out of obscurity to capture the first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship in the 20-year history of the franchise Thursday with a 7-2 home-ice win over the Shawinigan Cataractes.
On the contrary, the Huskies closed out the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League and then embarked on a playoff run that included just four losses.
Rouyn-Noranda posted the CHL’s best regular season winning percentage of .831, chalking up 113 points with a 54-9-3-2 record.
Captain and left winger Francis Perron, a seventh-round selection of the Ottawa Senators in the 2014 NHL entry draft, recorded 108 regular-season points which included 41 goals, and led all QMJHL playoff scorers with 12 goals and 33 points.
“My goal was to lead the Huskies to the President’s Cup,” he told Jean-Francois Vachon of the Journal La Frontiere. “I have done the job, but there are 22 guys who have given body and soul to win. It is a history of the team.”
The Huskies possess a number of high-calibre performers, including right winger Jean-Christophe Beaudin, a third-round (2015) pick of the Colorado Avalanche who registered 33 goals and 82 points in 58 regular-season outings.
The team brought in two key players during the season — wingers Timo Meier and A.J. Greer. Meier, picked ninth overall by San Jose in last year’s NHL draft, contributed a total of 87 points (34g,53a) between the Huskies and Halifax Mooseheads, and Greer, who left Boston College at the Christmas break, scored 16 goals in 33 games with his new club.
Greer was selected by Colorado in the second round last year. The Avalanche also laid claim to Huskies winger Julien Nantel (22-24-26 in 52 games this season) in 2014.
Meier and Greer finished two-three in the Huskies’ post-season scoring parade with 23 (11-12) and 22 (12-10) points, respectively.
Winger Martin Dzierkais, who tallied twice in Thursday’s decisive victory, put up 67 points (24-43-67) this season and is a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect (third round, 2015), while defenceman Jeremy Lauzon was nabbed by the Boston Bruins in the second round last year. Lauzon displayed a nice offensive touch from the back end this winter, contributing 10 goals and 50 points in 46 outings.
Phillipe Myers, a six-foot-four, 205-pound signed Philadelphia Flyers prospect, is another offensive-minded defender, as his 45 regular-season points (17-28) would suggest, as is 20-year-old Nikolas Brouillard, who had 59 points (17-42) between the Quebec Remparts and Huskies and added 20 more (5-15) in the playoffs.
Last, but far from least among the key Huskies is goaltender Chase Marchand. The 21-year-old posted impressive regular-season stats with a 2.42 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, but his playoff numbers (1.35, .946) were other-worldly.
“It is a collective effort. The guys have been dedicated this evening. They wanted to finish,” Huskies GM/head coach Gilles Bouchard told Vachon following the clinching win.
“The crowd had their word to say this evening. It was crazy,” he added.
The Huskies advanced to the Memorial Cup tournament — opening next Friday at the Centrium — and will face the Western Hockey League champions May 21.