CHL Notebook: QMJHL’s defending champions off to strong start

Members of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies celebrate after defeating the Halifax Mooseheads to win the Memorial Cup championship. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

The Canadian Hockey League season is two weeks old and some players and teams have gotten off to quality starts.

A quick scan of the standings in all three CHL member leagues sees a couple of teams coming off big years having some early success.

In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the defending champs are off to a solid start. On the heels of a Memorial Cup title last season, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have jumped out to a 4-1-0-0 record early.

Led by overage forwards Tyler Hinam and Vincent Marleau, the Huskies have 20 goals through five games, second in the QMJHL behind the unbeaten Cape Breton Eagles. Hinam currently leads the QMJHL in scoring with 10 points.

San Jose Sharks goaltending prospect Zachary Emond, who won 24 games last year for the Huskies and had a 1.73 goals-against average in 27 games, is off to a good start as well this season with a .931 save percentage in five games.

Talk about a good start for a team coming off a title run.

Goaltender Antoine Coulombe of the Shawinigan Cataractes has to be pleased with his start to the new season as well. After posting just four wins last year in 41 appearances, Coulombe already has three wins this season, including a pair of shutouts. The 2020 Draft-eligible netminder didn’t pick up his third win of the season until after Christmas last season.

In the Western Hockey League, the Prince Albert Raiders have followed up winning the league title last season with a 3-0-1-0 start to the new season.

The Raiders have scored just 11 goals through four games but 18-year-old netminder Boston Bilous has been solid for the defending champs as the team has given up just seven goals.

A pair of players have stolen the headlines in the Ontario Hockey League early on this season — 2020 Draft-eligible forward Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves already had the eyes of NHL scouts coming into the season. Through five games, it looks as though the 17-year-old has taken his game to another level from his rookie year with six goals and 12 points in just five games to start the season.

Byfield has made sure his name stays in the mix as one of the top draft-eligible players in Ontario.

Import defenceman Ilya Solovyov of the Saginaw Spirit used a five-point game against the Sarnia Sting over the weekend to jump into second in the OHL scoring race behind Byfield.

In five games, Solovyov has a point in every game this season, including three multi-point games.

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