Written by: Jesse Michael for the Canadian Hockey League
The tenth edition of the SUBWAY® Super Series begins Monday, November 5, as Team QMJHL will try to find their way back into the win column and end the Russian’s four-game winning streak.
Last year the Russians were very strong, taking both games from the QMJHL all-stars for the second year in a row posting a 2-0 shutout in Victoriaville to open the series before winning a 5-4 shootout thriller in Quebec City.
Even though this year is a new series with two very different teams, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada defenseman Xavier Ouellet feels that the Russians will be just as prepared this time around.
“They’re fast and a big team,” he said. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of team speed, which is nothing different from the other years. It’s going to be a hard game and a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Team QMJHL has only five players on the squad returning from last season, including Ouellet, who’s playing in his third SUBWAY® Super Series, and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau (SNB), Charles Hudon (CHI), Phillip Danault (VIC), and Nathan MacKinnon (HAL).
The team will also feature forwards Jean-Sébastien Dea (ROU), who has led the league in scoring for most of the season with 18 goals and 34 points through 17 games, and Anthony Mantha (VDO), who is not far behind with 15 goals and 28 points through 15 games.
The opposition will have familiar faces to fans of the QMJHL, as Mikhail Grigorenko (QUE), Anton Zlobin (VDO), Artem Sergeev (VDO), and Valentin Zykov (BAC) will suit up for the Russian squad. In what is also a bit of a treat for fans, Edmonton Oilers first overall pick from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Nail Yakupov, will also be in the lineup for both games against Team QMJHL.
Aside from the few that end up playing against teammates, there are those that are thankful for the opportunity to compete with some guys that are usually foes out on the ice.
“MacKinnon, Huberdeau, and [Jonathan] Drouin,” said Ouellet about who he’s looking forward to playing with the most. “MacKinnon is going to be first or second overall in the NHL draft, he’s a big prospect. Huberdeau was a third overall pick, and played at the World Juniors last year so he’s an experienced guy, and Drouin is a young player with MacKinnon in Halifax. They’re three special players.”
There are even higher expectations in these two games for Team QMJHL, not only from an evaluation perspective to make the World Junior team in December, but to end the Russians four-game winning streak on QMJHL ice.
“It’s a little bit of pressure,” Val-d’Or’s Mantha said. “They [QMJHL] didn’t win the last two years so we need to try and win both games. We need to play hard, intense, and try hitting them a lot. They have a bunch of talent and individual skills, and we’re really going to have to out work them.”
Ouellet, Mantha, and the rest of their teammates will try to get the CHL out to an early series lead when it kicks off next Monday in Blainville-Boisbriand.
All games of the 2012 SUBWAY® Super Series can be seen on Sportsnet, with both QMJHL games on TVA Sports.
The complete roster for team QMJHL can be seen at www.subwaysuperseries.ca.
2012 SUBWAY® Super Series Schedule of Games:
Game 1 – Monday November 5 at Blainville-Boisbriand, QC
Game 2 – Wednesday November 7 at Val d’Or, QC
Game 3 – Thursday November 8 at Guelph, ON
Game 4 – Monday November 12 at Sarnia, ON
Game 5 – Wednesday November 14 at Vancouver, BC
Game 6 – Thursday November 15 at Victoria, BC