The Gatineau Olympiques are the best in the league at keeping the puck out of the net, giving up just 163 goals. But last week, the team flexed its scoring muscles as well, finding the back of the net 19 times in three games.
Sure, beating Baie-Comeau 7-2 on Wednesday may not be a monumental feat, but the other two wins came against potential first-round playoff opponents. Gatineau sits in fifth place with 91 points, but is unlikely to move in the standings with West Division foes and powerhouse teams Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or ahead of them. If division leaders weren’t automatically given top seeds, Gatineau would be in third place.
Jeff Marek hosts Sportsnet’s weekly CHL podcast, a one-stop shop for news, analysis, opinion and interviews covering the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
On Thursday, Gatineau rolled over Chicoutimi 8-2, marking the second time they’ve scored eight goals this season. Captain Alexandre Carrier led the way with a goal and four assists from the blueline. It’s the first time the Nashville Predators prospect has had five points in his four-season junior career. Another Nashville prospect, Yakov Trenin, had a goal and three assists in the game.
It was the Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau show on Saturday night—he scored all four of Gatineau’s goals in a 4-1 win over Victoriaville. The winger has averaged 1.11 points per game since joining the Olympiques via trade in January. Paquin-Boudreau was originally chosen by the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the 2013 draft, but failed to sign with the team after missing all but seven games last season. He re-entered the draft in 2015 but was passed over. With career-highs in goals, assists and points, he could make a nice free agent signing for an NHL team.
Here’s what went down in the ‘Q’ this week:
Abramov high in ISS March rankings
Gatineau Olympiques rookie Vitalii Abramov leads all rookies in scoring and is fourth in the league with 94 points. Despite the high totals, including 38 goals, Abramov hasn’t received a whole lot of love from draft pundits.
According to Prospect-Stats.com, Abramov is tied for fifth in the "Q" with 72 primary points. (Francois Laplante/Getty)
NHL Central Scouting has him listed 56th among North American skaters in its midterm rankings. Size is the biggest knock on his game—he’s 5-foot-9, 170-lb.—but that hasn’t scared off International Scouting Services. The scouting agency has him ranked 27th overall, one spot ahead of Victoriaville’s Pascal Laberge. There’s such a wide range of opinions on Abramov, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go anywhere from late first-round to middle of the draft in June.
Harvey steps in for injured starter
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies got stellar goaltending from backup Samuel Harvey with starter Chase Marchand missing the week with a concussion. The Huskies had a busy week with four games scheduled, all on the road, including three games on consecutive nights.
Harvey started all four and secured eight points for the first-place Huskies in the process. Rouyn-Noranda used third-stringer Francis Lavallée like a relief pitcher, bringing him in for the final moments of wins against Victoriaville and Sherbrooke. It’s a tactic you don’t see very often in hockey, but it made sense considering Marchand played a whopping 235 minutes for the week.
Winning the Timo Meier sweepstakes at the deadline may have been flashiest move Rouyn-Noranda made over the trading period, but their cheapest move may have been the best.
The Huskies originally took a flier on Anthony-John Greer in the 11th round of the 2013 QMJHL draft. Greer chose the U.S. route, crossing the border to play high-school hockey then playing at Boston University last season. In mid-December, he left BU and joined the Huskies. After a quiet start, Greer started finding the back of the net in February with eight goals.
In four games last week, Greer picked up three goals, including a pair in a 4-3 overtime win against Blainville-Boisbriand. The 39th-overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Greer now has 12 goals and nine assists through 28 games.
Perron joins century club
In other Huskies news, Francis Perron joined the century club Friday night after recording three assists in a 7-1 win over Victoriaville. The Ottawa Senators prospect finished the week with a goal and nine points, and sits in second in league scoring with 101 points. Meier was the main benefactor of Perron’s play, finishing the week with six goals—all assisted by Perron—and five assists, earning him the league’s first star of the week.
— Timo Meier (@MeierTimo) March 5, 2016
Shawinigan clinches East Division
The Shawinigan Cataractes have been on top of the East Division all season, but made it official last week, clinching the division. Shawinigan picked up two wins, 3-2 in a shootout over Québec and 6-5 over Victoriaville, and once again lost to Chicoutimi, dropping a 6-5 division.
The team underwent a coaching change late in February, partially because of uninspiring losses to lowly teams including Chicoutimi and Québec. A two-goal effort from Anthony Beauvillier ensured Shawinigan didn’t lose to Québec again. Fortunately for Shawinigan, it’s highly unlikely they’ll face either team in the first round of the playoffs.
Shawinigan is in third place, one point behind the Saint John Sea Dogs, who are one point away from clinching the Maritimes Division.
Val-d’Or loses top scorer
Not much has gone wrong for the Val-d’Or Foreurs this season, but they’ll be without leading scorer Anthony Richard for the next four weeks. The Nashville Predators prospect went down with a lower-body injury Tuesday night. He’ll finish the season with 37 goals and 87 points. At the time of the injury, Richard was leading the Foreurs in points while playing centre on the top line and first power-play unit.