The year is coming to a close today and what better time to look back on some of the brighter moments of the past 12 months in the Canadian Hockey League.
Whether it was Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic doing things in the Quebec League not done since Sidney Crosby — by scoring 40 goals in the league as a 16-year-old — or the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan winning the Memorial Cup in May, it was a year to remember on many fronts.
It saw long winning streaks across the country as well.
The OHL’s Soo Greyhounds put together a 23-game winning streak to end 2017. What was more impressive was the fact that the team went well into January before losing a game in regulation time. The team would go 29 games without a loss in regulation time before losing to the Sarnia Sting on Jan. 19.
After starting the 2018-19 WHL season with a 7-1 record, the Prince Albert Raiders would rebound from a loss to the Red Deer Rebels in Red Deer on Oct. 6 in a big way, by reeling off 19 straight victories.
Since that loss to Red Deer in October, the Raiders have lost just four games since as the team will head into 2019 with a 33-3-0-1 record.
Niagara IceDogs (OHL) forward Jason Robertson will go into the new year on quite a hot streak. The Dallas Stars prospect is riding a 16-game point streak that has seen him score 17 goals and 40 points.
In the QMJHL, Joseph Veleno was red-hot prior to joining the Canadian National Junior team.
The veteran forward had points in nine straight games prior to heading to the Canadian selection game. What’s more impressive was that Veleno had 11 goals and 30 points in that stretch for the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Cody Glass of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks will also carry a streak into the new year when he rejoins the team from playing at the World Juniors with Canada.
Prior to heading to the Canadian selection game, Glass was riding a 16-game points streak that saw the Vegas Golden Knights prospect score eight goals and 34 points.
The CHL playoffs in the spring didn’t go by without its share of dramatics.
All three leagues saw their own share of overtime heroics.
Whether it was Olivier Bourret scoring in triple overtime for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in a 5-4 win over Drummondville or Jayden Halbgewachs scoring in the third overtime as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Swift Current Broncos in a game that saw Moose Jaw netminder Brody Willis make 58 saves, the dramatics of playoff time were evident across the country.
Speaking of the Swift Current series with Moose Jaw, what’s a series it was.
Moose Jaw’s triple overtime with forced a seventh and deciding game between the two clubs and was the third overtime game of the series.
After the two teams split the opening two games in Moose Jaw, the Warriors took a 2-1 series lead thanks to an overtime win in Game 3, only to see the Broncos score a double-overtime win in Game 4 to even the series again.
Following their Game 6 loss, the eventual league champs went on the road to beat the Warriors in Game 7 to move on.
The Broncos, who would represent the WHL in the Memorial Cup in Regina last May, would play 26 playoff games to get there. That includes back-to-back seven-game series to open the playoffs.
The OHL playoffs, not to be outdone, saw a double-overtime thriller in the Western Conference final, and it was in a seventh game to boot.
Jack Kopacka scored for the Soo Greyhounds four minutes into the second overtime in a Game 7 win over the Kitchener Rangers. The win sent the Greyhounds to the first OHL final for the team in 25 years.
The new year will bring with it a new set of storylines and, while they remain to be seen, it’s sure to be a fun ride in 2019 in the CHL.