|Cape Breton Screaming Eagles goalie Oliver Bellavance-Roy is off to a 3-0 start with two shutouts in his first season.
For a team used to getting it done in the offensive zone, the past week has been quite a change of pace for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Tied for the league lead with 39 goals scored, defensive play has earned the Screaming Eagles three victories and goaltender Oliver Bellavance-Roy the QMJHL TELUS defensive player of the week award for the period ending Oct. 7.
Bellavance-Roy, the 16-year-old goaltender from Amqui, Quebec, was a third-round pick in the QMJHL to Cape Breton. He is playing his first season for the Screaming Eagles, but his play early in the 2007-08 season is anything but rookie-like.
Bellavance-Roy played each of his team’s last three games, and won all three with two shutouts, a 1.00 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage during that stretch. He defeated the Moncton Wildcats and twice downed the Acadie-Bathurst Titans. In the process, he put together one of the longest shutout streaks in QMJHL history.
Bellavance-Roy’s shutout streak of 167 minutes and 51 seconds is now the fourth-longest such streak in QMJHL history. His streak was longer than the streaks of current NHL goaltenders Jose Theodore (fifth, 154 minutes, 24 seconds) and Roberto Luongo (seventh, 134 minutes, 50 seconds). He missed out on the top three by only two minutes, nine seconds.
In his first season playing major junior hockey, the young goaltender already boasts a 5-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and a .928 save percentage in seven starts. But his numbers are even more impressive considering he plays in perhaps the most offensive junior hockey league in North America.
The QMJHL, despite a long history of producing great goaltenders -- Patrick Roy (1982-1985), Roberto Luongo (1995-1999), and Marc-Andre Fleury (2000-2004), among others -- has the reputation of being a run-and-gun league that prides itself on offense first.
For this reason, “The Q” as it is referred to, has traditionally been a breeding ground for goaltenders, who get a ton of experience in quick fashion. But the league also has produced such offensive superstars as Mario Lemieux (1981-83), Vincent Lecavalier (1996-98), and Sidney Crosby (2003-04).
Perhaps then, it is both the quality of shooter and the sheer volume of shots that tempers young goaltenders and hardens them into NHL-ready netminders. Even during Bellavance-Roy’s two recent shutouts, he stopped 20 and 30 shots, respectively, and overall stopped more than 60 consecutive shots.
Bellavance-Roy won’t be available in the NHL Entry Draft until 2009, but his past week has likely already put him on the radar for NHL scouts who like the 5-foot-11, 163-pound goalie’s quickness and poise in the crease.
Around the QMJHL --Nobody was happier to see Jakub Voracek back in Halifax colors than the Mooseheads’ triggermen. Voracek had six assists in his first two games (to go along with one goal) and the Mooseheads won both; first by a 5-2 score against the Saint John Sea Dogs and then by a 6-3 score against the PEI Rocket. … In addition to Bellavance-Roy as the TELUS defensive player of the week, the offensive player of the week was Chicoutimi Sagueneens forward Francis Pare, who scored three goals and assisted on four others while maintaining a plus-6 rating in only three games. The Sagueneens won all three games.
Ontario Hockey League
For the third-straight week, the OHL has a new top scorer.
With four goals and five points in only two games, Stefan Legein has vaulted over fellow Oakville, Ontario native John Tavares for the OHL scoring lead.
Legein’s eight goals trails only Tavares’ nine for the league lead, but his 16 points is good for the top spot overall.
Around the OHL -- The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (7-0-1) were defeated – finally -- but it took a shootout to get it done. The Kingston Frontenacs defeated the Greyhounds, 4-3, Friday night, paced by a two-goal, four-point night by Nathan Moon and 30 saves out of goaltender Jason Guy. … It was the week of the hat trick in the OHL, as three players recorded three goals in a single game: Legein on Thursday against the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in a 7-3 win, Matt Caria in an 8-1 victory against the Kingston Frontenacs on Sunday afternoon and, finally, Arron Alphonso of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in a 6-2 Sunday matinee win against the Ottawa 67’s. … Two trades in the OHL this week: the Oshawa Generals made a move to add to their goaltending depth, acquiring Daryl Borden and a fifth-round pick in 2008 from the Kingston Frontenacs in exchange for goaltender Anthony Peters, Oshawa’s fourth-round pick in 2008 and a fourth-round pick in 2009. The Generals now have three experienced goaltenders on their staff while Peters, a promising young player, will get a fresh start with a new team. The Belleville Bulls and Sarnia Sting completed a swap, with veteran defenseman Chris Mifflen sent to Belleville for a fifth-round draft pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Draft.
Western Hockey League
Jordan Mistelbacher will likely remember his first WHL goal for a long time, all three of them, in fact.
Mistelbacher scored a natural hat trick in dramatic fashion Saturday night, scoring the within-one, tying, and eventual game-winning goal in a 7:16 span of the third period in a game against the Portland Winter Hawks. The win was the Everett Silvertips’ first road win of the season.
For his efforts, Mistelbacher was awarded the first star of the game, and a night of memories that any junior-aged kid would kill for.
Around the WHL -- The Calgary Hitmen made a statement Friday night, defeating last season’s WHL Champion and Central Division rival Medicine Hat Tigers by a score of 5-1. The Hitmen got offense from their back end, as alternate captain Karl Alzner and newcomer Paul Postma each scored. … Kruise Reddick of the Tri-City Americans is in unfamiliar territory. The current WHL leading scorer has six goals and 15 points through his first eight games, only seven shy of his total from last season, when he had nine goals and 22 points in 60 games as a rookie. … The “kids” are looking good in the WHL, with five 2008 NHL Entry Draft-eligible players among the league’s top scorers. Reddick, Kyle Beach (Everett Silvertips), Zach Boychuk (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Jordan Eberle (Regina Pats), and Colby Kulhanek (Chilliwack Bruins) are all among the top-20 in scoring. … While the QMJHL is regarded as an offense-first type of league, the WHL has always been characterized by its tight-checking style. A look at the WHL’s GAA leaders – eight goalies boast a sub-2.0 GAA and 21 are at 3.0 or below – will tell you just how much each team works to keep the scores down.
United States Hockey League
After the first weekend of the USHL regular season, perennial favorites the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Omaha Lancers and the Lincoln Stars have assumed familiar spots at the top of the standings.
But it was a rookie who made some of the biggest noise in the opening weekend.
Matt Donovan, rookie defenseman for Cedar Rapids, got off to a fast start and is the top scoring defenseman in the USHL after two games. Donovan had a goal and an assist in a 7-2 win over Chicago on Friday and a power play goal in a 3-1 win over Indiana Saturday. He finished +3 and had 7 SOG.
He was awarded the CCM Defensive Player of the Week honors for his contributions.
Donovan is a 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman from Edmond, Oklahoma who is eligible for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He is committed to the University of Denver for the 2008-09 season, along with teammate and fellow defenseman Paul Phillips.
Around the USHL --After finishing only three points out of the first overall slot in the standings in 2006-07, Cedar Rapids has won their first two games in the new campaign. Their PP, humming along at a 31.58 percent success rate, has a lot to do with their early success. … Omaha Lancers forward Barry Almeida is tied for the league lead in scoring with three goals and an assist in his first two games, while his Lancers sit alone atop the West Division standings with a 2-0 record. Almeida earned RBK Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the opening weekend. … In addition to Donovan, the RoughRiders got some big contributions from an unlikely source as rookie goaltender Brady Hjelle stepped in for the injured Kent Patterson and won his team’s first two games of 2007-08 and the first two starts of his career. In addition, he was awarded Stauber’s Goalcrease Goaltender of the Week for his play in the two wins. In all, he stopped 60 of 63 shots fired by opposing shooters.