The Halifax Mooseheads overcame significant injuries down the stretch to post one of the finest seasons in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history.
The Mooseheads had 58 wins this season, tying them with the 1973-74 Sorel Eperviers, the 1978-79 Trois-Rivieres Draveurs and the 2010-11 Saint John Sea Dogs for most in league history. They’ll face the back-to-back defending champion Sea Dogs in the opening round of the playoffs.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
Hot team: Edmonton Oil Kings
The defending champs had just one blemish to close out the season -- a 3-2 shootout loss to Saskatoon on Tuesday -- otherwise going on an impressive run with eight wins in their final nine games. The Oil Kings are firing on every cylinder right now, and could be on their way to another deep playoff run. They’ll meet the Kootenay Ice for the second-consecutive year in the first round.
Cold team: Prince George Cougars
Any hopes of making it back to the post-season were dashed as the Cougars licked their wounds in the final stretch of the season. Prince George finished the season with five-straight regulation losses, and seven in its last 10 games. This is now the second-consecutive season the Cougars will miss the playoffs and the fourth time in the last six seasons.
Canadian NHL teams’ WHL prospects:
David Musil, Edmonton (Oilers) -- drafted 31st overall in 2011
Musil enjoyed a productive season which saw him reach career-highs in goals (9), assists (22) and points (31) while finishing the season a staggering plus-29. The two-way defender is a rock on the Oil Kings’ back line and will be a valuable player for them in the playoffs.
Adam Lowry, Swift Current (Jets) -- drafted 67th overall in 2011
Lowry extended his point streak to five games with a goal and one assist in his final two games this season. After missing half of last season with a wrist injury, he played in all 72 of his team’s games and was tied for 12th overall in league scoring with 45 goals and 42 assists for 87 points.
Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton (Flames) -- drafted 164th overall in 2011
Brossoit’s fine second-half performance concluded with two strong outings where he stopped 65-of-68 shots for a .956 save percentage. His .917 save percentage this season had him fifth among starting goaltenders.
Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw (Maple Leafs) -- drafted fifth overall in 2012
Rielly closed out the season with four assists and a plus-2 rating in his final three games. He hasn’t disappointed since the Maple Leafs used the high pick on him, rewarding their faith by placing fifth among defencemen in scoring with 12 goals and 42 assists for 54 points in 60 games.
Tim Bozon, Kamloops (Canadiens) -- drafted 64th overall in 2012
Bozon’s strong final week of the season, where he had three goals and four assists and a plus-7 in two games, vaulted the Swiss forward into a tie for eighth in league scoring. He had 36 goals and 55 assists for 91 points in 69 games this season.
QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Hot team: Halifax Mooseheads
The Mooseheads enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in league history with 58 wins in the 68-game season. They nearly ran the table the last month, winning 16-of-17 games to end the season, and tied the league’s record for most wins by a team in one season. Their 120 points are second-most by a team in one season, two behind the 122 set by the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in 1978-79, who achieved the feat playing four games more in a 72-game schedule.
Cold team: Val-d’Or Foreurs
The Foreurs sputtered down the stretch, dropping their final six games of the season -- three of which came in a shootout. As a result, Val-d’Or lost any chance of finishing with home-ice advantage in the opening round. The Foreurs are healthy, and still dangerous team when they’re clicking. They’ll face the P.E.I. Rocket in the first-round of the playoffs.
Canadian NHL teams’ QMJHL prospects:
Olivier Archambault, Drummondville (Canadiens) -- drafted 108th overall in 2011
Archambault saw his five-game goal scoring streak snapped in his final outing, but concluded his fourth season with an impressive 32 goals and 66 points this season. The former first-overall pick set career-highs in goals, assists (34) and points.
Ryan Culkin, Quebec (Flames) -- drafted 124th overall in 2012
Culkin enjoyed a productive season where he finished tied for eighth in league scoring by a defenceman with five goals and 40 assists for 45 points in 67 games. He picked up two assists and a plus-2 rating in his final three games.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
Hot team: Plymouth Whalers
It must be March because the Whalers are on a roll and looking like a contender. The Whalers won their last eight-straight games and 16 of their last 17 while capturing the West Division crown. Plymouth features the league’s scoring champion in Vincent Trocheck, and a deep and talented lineup that is a sure bet to make some noise in the playoffs.
Cold team: Ottawa 67’s
The 67’s rebuilding season is mercifully over now after ending on a five-game losing streak. Although fan expectations are generally always high for this proud franchise, patience could lead to future gains in the nation’s capital. The team boasts a collection of talented youngsters and will pick first in the upcoming priority selection. Their future is bright.
Canadian NHL teams’ OHL prospects:
Stefan Noesen, Plymouth (Senators) -- drafted 21st overall in 2011
Noesen snapped a six-game goalless drought with two goals and five assists in his final three games of the season. He finished his fourth campaign with 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points in 51 games.
Matt Puempel, Kitchener (Senators) -- drafted 24th overall in 2011
Puempel was determined to conclude his fourth season with his highest goal output and did so while recording a hat trick in his final game on Friday. He had 35 goals and 12 assists for 47 points in 51 games.
Stuart Percy, Mississauga (Maple Leafs) -- drafted 25th overall in 2011
Percy scored only his second game-winner of the season on Saturday, but it was a big win for his Steelheads who advanced to the playoffs after a late surge from Peterborough. The defenceman set career-highs in goals (13), assists (32) and points (45) this season.
Frankie Corrado, Kitchener (Canucks) -- drafted 150th overall in 2011
Corrado picked up three assists and a plus-4 rating in his final three games of the season. He finished the campaign with an impressive seven goals and 38 assists for 45 points and a plus-18 this season.
Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (Canucks) -- drafted 26th overall in 2012
Gaunce reached a milestone by scoring five times in his final three games this season, eclipsing the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career. He had 33 goals and 27 assists for 60 points, eight behind last year’s total.
Scott Kosmachuk, Guelph (Jets) -- drafted 70th overall in 2012
Kosmachuk finished strong with a goal in each of his final three games and two assists for five points. He set personal bests in a season in goals (35), assists (30) and points (65).
Daniil Zharkov, Belleville (Oilers) -- drafted 91st overall in 2012
Zharkov improved on his rookie season with a near relic of his first campaign. The Russian sniper scored twice and picked up three assists in his final three games, finishing with 25 goals, 18 assists and 43 points.