Sportsnet.ca’s Patrick King has returned with his CHL Hot or Not Column.
The Canadian Hockey League kicked off the first full weekend of action across all three leagues last week as 60 teams begin their pursuit of the Memorial Cup championship. Sportsnet.ca reviews the hot and cold teams and players while also taking a look ahead at three big games the following week in the first installment of the CHL’s Hot-Not.
Québec Major Junior Hockey League
Hot Team: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Although the Screaming Eagles have a new head coach this season, one thing is certain: Cape Breton can never be underestimated. The Screaming Eagles are off to the quickest start, winners of all three games last week to improve their record to 5-0. Goaltender Olivier Roy appears unfazed by the sophomore jinx while newcomer Michael Stinziani has been on a tear since joining the Screaming Eagles.
Hot Player: Linden Bahm, Halifax Mooseheads
With the departure of their core of star players from last season, one of the biggest questions the Halifax Mooseheads had this season was at offence. Bahm, acquired for a draft pick from the Shawinigan Cataractes in the off-season, did his best Jakub Voracek impression last week, scoring three goals and two assists with a plus-2 rating in two games.
Cold Team: Val-d’Or Foreurs
Although they’re missing four players who are still away at NHL camps, head coach Eric Lavigne can’t be pleased with the start this season. Val-d’Or has lost all five games of the season, four of which were played last week. The Foreurs will need to improve defensively as they have allowed more than five goals per game while their goaltenders have faced an average of 36.6 shots per game.
Cold Player: Raffaele D’Orso, Val-d’Or Foreurs
It was a rough week for D’Orso, who many coaches and general managers around the league felt was one of the best in the league. The second-year starter allowed 10 goals on 70 shots in two losses last week for a 0.857 save percentage. If Val-d’Or’s start is any indication, it could be a long season for D’Orso and backup rookie goaltender Jean-Sébastien Boucher.
This week’s key match-up: Saint John Sea Dogs vs. Shawinigan Cataractes, Sunday
Two of the league’s top heavyweights will go head-to-head for the first of a home and home this season. This will also represent the only two times these two teams meet during the regular season. Both teams entered this season with a lot of hype as league contenders and could very well meet at some point in this year’s playoffs. The two have identical 2-2 records entering this week while also missing some key players who are still away at NHL camps. In spite of this fact, these two games will be a good measuring stick for each team to see how well they stack up against another contender.
This article is always an excellent source of information if you like to follow Major Junior hockey.