QMJHL Blog: Cataractes can’t string wins together

Anthony Beauvillier of the Shawinigan Cataractes is the QMJHL coaches' pick to top a number of categories. (Photo courtesy QMJHL)

It’s been the tale of two teams for the Shawinigan Cataractes this season. The night after crushing Charlottetown by a score of 7-3 on Wednesday, they suffered a 6-3 loss to the second-last Halifax Mooseheads on Thursday. Goaltending was a huge factor in the game for both sides. Shawinigan’s Mikhail Denisov was chased from his net in the first period after allowing three goals on seven shots, while Halifax’s Eric Brassard stood on his head and turned away 46 of the 49 shots fired his way.

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Shawinigan looked dangerous for the last 50 minutes of the game but was unable to escape with a win (it’s worth noting two of Halifax’s six goals were empty-netters). Unlucky, sure, but it’s a continuation of a trend that sees Shawinigan—the QMJHL’s second place team with 70 points—come up short in the second game when playing consecutive nights.

Marcus Bordage tweeted data for how teams do in the second game of back-to-back games for all 18 teams. Shawinigan is 12th in win percentage (0.357) in the second game with five wins and nine losses.

While the chart shows the results of the second game, I looked at how Shawinigan did in the first contests. Of the 14 series, they’ve won the first game 12 times to go along with two overtime losses. So this week’s series against Charlottetown and Halifax was classic Shawinigan—win the first, lose the second.

Here’s what’s up around the ‘Q’:

Coughler deal paying dividends

It’s a trade that seemed insignificant at the time compared to some of the blockbuster deals over the trading period, but the Charlottetown Islanders made quite the shrewd move when they acquired Jake Coughler for a fifth-round pick from the Gatineau Olympiques.

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A training camp invitee by the Olympiques in 2013, Coughler scored three goals and added a helper in a pair of Charlottetown wins over Halifax and Cape Breton last weekend. He’s found instant chemistry on a line flanked by Kameron Keilly and Samuel Blais, another newcomer joining the team from Victoriaville. The 19-year-old is averaging over a point per-game with Charlottetown—including 12 goals in 14 games—after scoring five times in 28 games with Gatineau. In fact, the third-year player’s previous career high for goals is nine.

Garland escapes serious injury

The QMJHL’s leading scorer, Conor Garland, returned to action Friday night against the Victoriaville Tigres. The Moncton Wildcat left Wednesday’s match against the Saint John Sea Dogs late in the third period after taking a crushing hit from winger Daniel Del Paggio. The Sea Dogs player was slapped with a three-game ban for leaving his feet, elbowing and injuring a vulnerable Garland.

Garland picked up a pair of assists in Moncton’s 5-4 overtime loss to Victoriaville, bumping his point total to 107 while rocking a 2.23 Pt/G—tops in the country.

Sea Dogs make top 10 debut

A little more spice was thrown into the heated Moncton-Saint John rivalry on Wednesday. Along with the hit on Conor Garland, the game featured a pair of scraps and Moncton winger Will Smith leveling Sea Dogs goalie Marc-Antoine Turcotte at the mid-point of the game. Smith was handed a game misconduct and Turcotte was unable to finish the the game. Alex Bishop picked up the win in relief with 11 saves in the 4-1 victory.

The win pushed the Sea Dogs ahead of Moncton in the standings, hours after Saint John made its season debut in the CHL Top 10 Rankings. Meanwhile, Moncton went from eighth to out of the rankings completely. The teams will meet two more times this season.

Games cancelled for powerless Drakkar

It’s painfully ironic the Baie-Comeau Drakkar weren’t able to host two games last week because of a power outage. Underground power lines damaged by rain and a sudden temperature change last week left the Centre Henry-Leonard without power, postponing matches against Sherbrooke on Wednesday and Rouyn-Noranda on Saturday. The situation is the perfect metaphor for the team’s season as they sit in last place with 19 points and are the only team yet to score 100 goals this season.

It’s expected the arena will be re-opened Tuesday with both games re-scheduled for a later date.

Mike O’Leary commits to Notre Dame

Halifax Mooseheads property Michael O’Leary announced he’s committed to the University of Notre Dame next season. The Mooseheads acquired his rights from the Moncton Wildcats in the Cody Donaghey trade. O’Leary was 14th overall pick of the 2014 QMJHL draft by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. After failing to report to Cape Breton, he re-entered the draft in 2015, going 52nd to the Wildcats.

The 17-year-old from Halifax, N.S. currently plays for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL and is a prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft. In the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game in January, O’Leary had a goal and three assists.

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