Sunday, May 27, 2018

Titan take on Pats in Memorial Cup final tonight

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REGINA - The Acadie-Bathurst Titan will look to do something no QMJHL team has done since 2013 - win the Memorial Cup final.

The Halifax Mooseheads were the last team from the QMJHL to win a national title, capping off a stretch of three straight Q winners. Since then, a QMJHL team has appeared in the final just once (Rouyn-Noranda in 2016).

The Titan earned an automatic spot in the final earlier this week, finishing with a 2-1 record. They'll take on the host Regina Pats in tonight's final, who finished 2-1 in preliminary round play and defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs in Friday's semifinal.

Game time this evening is 8 p.m. The game can be seen on Sportsnet.

The Pats had a long layoff heading into the tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs. They'll look to join last year's Windsor Spitfires and the 2012 Shawinigan Cataractes as recent host teams with long breaks to win the tournament. The host team has won the Memorial Cup just three times since 2007.

While the Titan's story isn't really an underdog tale - they were one of the best teams in the QMJHL all season long - it has the feel of one. The Titan are one of the smallest markets in the CHL, and for them to get to this point - especially after everything that has happened to the franchise over the past decade - is quite impressive.

The Titan's only previous Memorial Cup experience was in 1999 when they finished third.

The Titan will also look to become just the third team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup following the 2013 Mooseheads and 2011 Saint John Sea Dogs.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

2018-19 QMJHL schedule released

The Saint John Sea Dogs will open the 2018-19 regular season at home on Sept. 21.

The Sea Dogs will host the Halifax Mooseheads in what will be the season opener for both clubs. The QMJHL's regular season opens one night earlier with the Moncton Wildcats visiting the defending President Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Saint John has a home heavy first month of the season, playing nine of their first 13 games at Harbour Station, only leaving the province twice (Charlottetown both times). That's good because the Sea Dogs have a comically large road stretch in November due to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge invading Harbour Station. Here's a look at Saint John's schedule from Nov. 1-16.
That will not be an easy stretch. The Sea Dogs return to Harbour Station ice on Nov. 21.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Titan keep President Cup in New Brunswick

BATHURST - The President Cup is staying in New Brunswick.

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan won the 2018 QMJHL championship on Sunday at the KC Irving Regional Centre, defeating the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 2-1 to take the series in six games.

This marks the second consecutive season a New Brunswick based team has defeated the Armada to win the President Cup. Last year, the Saint John Sea Dogs swept Blainville-Boisbriand.

A New Brunswick based team has won five of the past nine QMJHL championships (Sea Dogs - three; Titan - one; Moncton Wildcats - one).

Jeffrey-Truchon Viel and Samuel L'Italien scored for Bathurst while goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick was tremendous, carrying a shutout until the final three minutes of the third period.
Drake Batherson scored the Armada's only goal as his team's offence struggled to click throughout the game. The Armada had just three shots in the first period and never looked comfortable all game. Rookie goaltender Emile Samson - one of the best stories of this post-season - made 24 saves in the loss.

The Armada were the top ranked team entering the playoffs. They've made it to the third round four times in the past six seasons and appeared in the final twice, but still have nothing to show for it.

This was the Titan's second QMJHL championship since relocating to Bathurst, having previously won in 1999. The victory is a sweet one for the franchise and its fanbase, who have gone through just about everything over the past decade - relocation rumours, a training camp tragedy, multiple rebuilds, a change in ownership, etc. But all of that will be forgotten for a while thanks to Sunday's win.

Bathurst will now represent the QMJHL at next week's Memorial Cup tournament in Regina. They'll join the host Pats, OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs and the WHL champion (either the Swift Current Broncos or Everett Silvertips) in the 100th edition of the event.

Titan look to clinch Cup tonight

BATHURST - The Acadie-Bathurst Titan can win the President Cup on home ice tonight.

The Titan carry a 3-2 series lead over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada heading into today's Game 6 at the KC Irving Regional Centre. A Titan win would put Bathurst into the Memorial Cup while an Armada win would force a Game 7 in Boisbriand on Tuesday.

It's been a close, back-and-forth series despite some lopsided scores. Bathurst defeated the Armada 5-3 on Friday in what has been the closest end result so far in this series.
The Titan own a series lead thanks to something no other team could do this post-season: beat the Armada on home ice. Bathurst has won two of the three games played in Boisbriand, which now has them in a position to win the President Cup today on home ice.

Bathurst previously won the President Cup in 1999. They lost in the league final in 2001 and 2002.

The winner of this series will represent the QMJHL at the Memorial Cup, which begins on Friday in Regina. The QMJHL's first game is on Saturday against the WHL champion.

All three CHL finals are currently at 3-2. The Hamilton Bulldogs lead the OHL final 3-2 over the Sault Ste. Mare Greyhounds heading into this afternoon's Game 6. In the WHL, the Swift Current Broncos lead the league final 3-2 over the Everett Silvertips heading into Game 6, which will also take place today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dream season ends for Islanders

The Charlottetown Islanders' fairy tale season did not have the magical ending it deserved.

After proving doubters wrong all season, the Islanders had their underdog campaign come to an end on Tuesday in Boisbriand, falling 6-1 to the Armada in Game 7 of their semifinal playoff series.

The Game 7 result came as a surprise (and, to be honest, a disappointment given how good the first six games had been) after such a close and evenly played series. Five of the previous six games had been decided by a single goal with three games going to overtime.

While the loss is no doubt disappointing for the Islanders, reaching the semifinals was an incredible accomplishment for a franchise that has a long history of underperforming. The team was projected by just about everyone to finish dead last in the league with some even predicting the squad to be one of the worst in league history. Instead, they surpassed all expectations and are set up fairly well for next season as well.

The 2017-18 Islanders season could be a franchise altering campaign. We've seen time and time again what overachieving can do for a franchise's near future.

The Armada, the league's No. 1 seed, will now play the No. 2 seeded Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the President Cup final. Game 1 is on Friday at 8 p.m. in Boisbriand and can be seen on Sportsnet.

It's the second straight finals appearance for the Armada, who lost in a sweep to the Saint John Sea Dogs last year. This will be Bathurst's first appearance in the final since 2002.

There will be just one former Sea Dog in the series - Armada forward Samuel Leblanc who has appeared in seven playoff games this year.

The winner of the final will represent the QMJHL at the Memorial Cup in Regina later this month.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Isles, Armada meet for Game 6 tonight

CHARLOTTETOWN - This biggest game in Charlottetown Islanders/PEI Rocket/Montreal Rocket history will take place this evening at Eastlink Centre.

Trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal series against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, the Islanders must win to keep their improbable and incredible season alive.

Game time at a sold out Eastlink Centre is 7 p.m.

Even if the Islanders lose tonight, this will be the most memorable campaign in franchise history. At this time last year, nobody was predicting them to get to this point.

The home team has won every game in this series - and it would be fitting if Charlottetown won another close game tonight, which would set up a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Boisbriand. The Isles have refused to die easily all season long, and tonight will likely be no different.

Four of the five games in this series have been decided by one goal with two games going to overtime. It's been an insanely close series, with goaltenders Matthew Welsh and Emile Samson both playing likes MVPs.

The winner of this series will face the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the league final. The Titan advanced to the fourth round for the first times since 2002 with a surprising sweep of the Victoriaville Tigres.

If the Armada advance, the final will begin in Boisbriand. If the Islanders advance, the series would begin in Bathurst.