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Around the QMJHL this week

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There’s been plenty of activity in the league over the past few days as we gear up for the start of the regular season which begins in less than a week for your Mooseheads. Halifax begins the year on the road against the Saint John Sea Dogs next Thursday at Harbour Station in the only game on the QMJHL schedule. Who will be in the Mooseheads lineup remains a mystery since a number of players have been selected to participate in main training camp with their respective NHL teams.

Forward Arnaud Durandeau is one of those players and has been enjoying his time with the New York Islanders.

“It’s been an amazing experience. I feel like every practice I feel more comfortable and gain confidence out there,” he said. Durandeau contributed to the Isles comeback win over the Flyers in a prospects battle Wednesday night as he scored with under five minutes to play to get his team within a goal. New York went on to win in overtime. BTW the graphic for “replay” is potentially the best I’ve seen since the 80’s.

 

Otto Somppi is back at camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second year and is back in game action. He had kept the green no contact jersey on during Mooseheads training camp but now has the all clear. Somppi had some repairs to his shoulder over the summer by the Lightning doctors in Detroit. He’s also soaking in every aspect that he can. “There’s so many players to look up to and learn from every day. I need to keep working hard off the ice and get to the next level of my game.”

Mooseheads defenceman Jocktan Chainey was also named to the New Jersey Devils main camp and Max Fortier was sent to Montreal’s American Hockey League camp with the Laval Rocket after spending time with the big club.

Better late than never. The Sea Dogs of course filled their Head Coaching vacancy last week and Josh Dixon was able to get on the ice with his new team on Wednesday. With pre-season games Thursday vs Moncton and tonight here in Halifax he sure didn’t have much time to get acclimated.

The Sea Dogs won’t have their number one goaltender back for at least a few days after Alex D’Orio signed his first contract with the Stanley Cup Champions who then invited him to their main camp.

Sticking with the goalie theme…Baie Comeau’s Antoine Samuel is still away with the Montreal Canadiens on an invite basis while Quebec’s Dereck Baribeau remains with the Minnesota Wild for now.

Cape Breton’s Drake Batherson has continued his steady improvement and is impressing at camp with the Ottawa Senators. Here’s a guy who can really be considered a late bloomer. Batherson didn’t play a full season in the QMJHL until last year and was passed over in his initial QMJHL and NHL draft years but has certainly persevered and grown…literally. He was listed at 5’08” 145 when Cape Breton took him in the sixth round in 2015 and is now 6’01” 187 and was picked in the fourth round of June’s draft by Ottawa. Drake’s father Norm was a star forward with Acadia University in the early 1990’s before having a successful AHL and European career. Check out this “All-QMJHL Goal” he set up with former Charlottetown sniper Filip Chlapik.

Here’s a player we saw a lot of in the Maritime Division over the past few seasons both with Moncton and Acadie-Bathurst. American defenceman Zach Malatesta is getting set to ply his trade in the ECHL in Hot-Lanta.

I know of more than a few fans out there who would be perfect for this contest. Want to win tickets to the Mooseheads home opener? Share your video or picture describing why you’re the ultimate Mooseheads fan using the hashtag #QOpeningWeek and you could win. See the details below. The league will be handing out prizes like pucks and gift cards too.

Interesting tidbit: The QMJHL made a minor change to how things will be handled going into a shootout this season. The league says following the five-minute overtime period there will be no cleaning of the ice by the zamboni going into a shootout.

Herd in Junior A: There will be plenty of teams with a distinct Mooseheads flavour around the Maritime Hockey League this season including the Amherst Ramblers who will be Captained by Jordan King. He’ll be surrounded by teammates Caleb Rich, Brandon Stone, Cole Waugh and Kirklin Allen. The Truro Bearcats feature Kevin Resop, Gavin Hart, Jack McGovern and Curtis Heffernan. The Moose have a couple of affiliate players up in Miramichi, NB with goalie Raphael Blais and recent draft pick Cole Stewart suiting up for the Timberwolves. Forward Ryan MacDonald is in St. Stephen, NB with the Aces, Ian MacPhee is in Bridgewater with the South Shore Lumberjacks while the Valley Wildcats have six players with Mooseheads ties in forwards; Makail Parker, Nick Cullen and Drew Packman plus defencemen; Adam Nolan and Josh Labelle along with goalie Cole McLaren. Rounding it out is defenceman Denis Toner with the Woodstock Slammers.

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