The First Round: The Battles are Set
It came down to the very last day of the QMJHL regular season to know all of the 16 teams that would take part in the playoffs.
The Rimouski Océanic were the final team that qualified, while the Sherbrooke Phoenix saw their season end with their 68th game.
The long road to the President Cup will start with 8 first-round match ups. Each Maritime team will be facing a team from Québec.
Rimouski (59 points) vs Saint John (102 points)
The Océanic haven’t had a lot of success since the end the trade period. While Rimouski have won only 10 of their last 34 games, they can still count on Tyler Boland, the QMJHL’s second-leading scorer (103 points). The Sea Dogs added veterans Callum Booth, Simon Bourque and Julien Gauthier in January. Bourque will be facing his former team.
The Sea Dogs won both of their meetings this season, scoring 14 goals in the process.
Halifax (60 points) vs Rouyn-Noranda (93 points)
Mooseheads head coach André Tourigny will be facing his former team of 11 seasons. The defending-champion Huskies concluded their regular season with 3 losses, but held on to finish top of the Western division. The Mooseheads have the last draft’s 2 top picks, Benoît-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac, who will be making their first playoff appearances.
The Huskies won both of their meetings with the Mooseheads this year.
Val-d’Or (61 points) vs Shawinigan (90 points)
The Cataracts made it to the finals last year, so Dennis Yan, Samuel Girard, Brandon Gignac and Alexis D’Aoust will be wanting to get to the next level. The Foreurs traded veterans François Beauchemin, Olivier Galipeau and Julien Gauthier in return for youth and good draft picks. Charley Graaskamp and Jake Smith took charge of offense.
The 2 teams have divided the spoils in their 4 meetings this year.
Baie-Comeau (62 points) vs Charlottetown (96 points)
The Islanders won 17 of their last 21 games to finish the season. They scored more than 10 goals in a game on 3 occasions. Acquired from the Foreurs, François Beauchemin earned 42 points in 30 games with the Islanders. After not reaching the playoffs last season, several Drakkar players will be getting their first playoff experience as they battle against the QMJHL’s top offense.
In their 2 meetings this season, the Drakkar and the Islanders each won their home game.
Drummondville (62 points) vs Blainville-Boisbriand (92 points)
The two teams met 6 times this season and will be battling yet again in the first round. The Armada’ offense caught a second wind with the arrivals of Alex Barré-Boulet and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Voltigeurs will be facing face the team that allowed the least number of goals this season.
The Armada won 4 of their 6 encounters in 2016-17.
Québec (69 points) vs Acadie-Bathurst (84 points)
Christophe Boivin, Antoine Morand and their teammates will be trying to help the Titan win their first playoff series since 2008. For the first time, the team finished with a record above .500. Switzerland’s Philipp Kurashev is the top scorer for Remparts and finished the season with 11 points in his last 10 games.
The Remparts were victorious in their 2 encounters this year.
Gatineau (70 points) vs Cape Breton (82 points)
Earlier this season, the Olympics parted with veterans Alex Dostie and Nicolas Meloche. Among the players picked up in return, Mitchell Balmas and Shawn Boudrias have scored 22 and 21 points in 30 games. The Screaming Eagles traded Pierre-Luc Dubois while still finishing 5th among teams for the goals scored.
The Olympiques and the Screaming Eagles both won their home games against each other this year.
Victoriaville (78 points) vs Chicoutimi (81 points)
The Sags finished 5th for goals allowed. Goaltender Julio Billia will be aiming to win the first playoff series of his career. Chicoutimi showed they were serious when they acquired Kelly and Kevin Klima, Olivier Galipeau, and Joey Rattelle in the trade period. The Tigres’ Alexandre Goulet will be trying to continue his excellent regular season play into the first round.
The Saguenéens were victorious in 4 of their 6 meeting this year.