QMJHL Champion Halifax Mooseheads 68 GP 58-6-3-1-120 Pts, First in the QMJHL
How They Got Here:
-Swept the St. John's Sea Dogs 4-0(outscoring them 25-4); swept the Gatineau Olympiques(outscoring them 21-5); swept the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-0 and beating the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4 games to 1. I don't think it's possible to blow through your competition more thouroughly then they did, winning 16 of 17 games. Drouin dropped 35 points in those games, Mackinnon dropped 33 and their linemate Martin Frk also scored 33. 17 year old defensman Brendan Duke was an astounding +23 in those 17 games and Fucale had a 2.02 GAA and a .918 Sv %, improving on their regular season numbers.
NHL Drafted or Owned:
-Forward (18)Martin Frk-Detroit-2012-2nd Round.
-Forward (20)Stephen MacAulay-2010-St.Louis-6th Round.
-Defenseman (20)Konrad Abeltshauser-2010-San Jose-6th Round.
-Center-(19)Brent Andrews-2011-Nashville-7th Round.
Though there is not a ton of already drafted top talent, they make up for that with Mackinnon and Drouin sure to be drafted in the top 5 and Fucale sure to be the first Goalie taken. There have been many mock drafts in which Portland's Seth Jones goes #1 and Mackinnon and Drouin follow him at #s 2 and 3.
History at the Memorial Cup:
-Though, since their inception into the QMJHL in 1994, the Nova Scotian club has had the likes of J.S. Giguere, Brad Marchand, Alex Tanguay and Pascal Leclaire suit up for them, they have only made one previous Memorial Cup and that was as host in 2000.
-2000 Cup- Halifax won their first 2 games as hosts, before losing in the semi-final to OHL Champ Barrie Colts.
-Though most of their team had never even been to the QMJHL final, they traded for Stephen MacAulay who was in the last 2 Memorial Cups with St. John.
Hawks in Trouble?:
-This opening game with Halifax is the one game that everyone who even pays a little attention to CHL hockey, is geared up for this game Saturday at 5pm. There is at least 6 players that will probably go in the first 2 rounds of June's NHL draft.
-The Hawks game depends on their skilled defense and forwards controlling a majority of the puck and forcing the other team into chasing after them. This may not be the case with Halifax. Not only do they have an amazing top line that can compete with the Ty Rattie, Brendan Leipsic and Nic Petan line, they have many other forwards that contribute in many different ways. The Hawks may struggle with the amount of skill and depth that Halifax can throw at you.
-Another big question is whether or not Halifax Coach Dom Ducharme will try to break up Drouin and Mackinnon to avoid the Defensive pairing of Tyler Wotherspoon and Seth Jones? They may not need to, but if Jones and Wotherspoon are shutting the top line down, look for Ducharme to split the two up and try to force Rutkowski and Pouliot to stop one of them.
-Fucale's numbers are impressive, but like Mac Carruth has been accused of taking advantage of playing on a great team. I do not know whether I would go so far as to say that, but Fucale has yet to turn 18 and may be out of his depth if Portland can get him uncomfortable.
Can Portland Take Advantage of Halifax's Defense?:
-Halifax is lead by 19 year olds Konrad Abeltshauser and Brandon Duke, as well as, 18 year old Mac Weegar. Abeltshauser seems to be the one that puts up points consistently, but the other two are strong at providing shut down defense. A lot of critics say that Halifax's defense cannot keep up with the premier teams out there. That said they bring a lot of experience and played an amazing shut down first two series of the playoffs, proving that they are under-rated and should not be over-looked, even by a team as offensively gifted.
-MacAulay is the only player on either team that has any Memorial Cup experience.
-Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon played with Mackinnon and Drouin on Team Canada at this year's world juniors, while Seth Jones played against them.
-Halifax became the first Nova Scotian club towin the QMJHL this year.