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Ontario gives youth more opportunities for elite-level hockey: Mully

It was a heartbreaking loss for Evan Boucher's Halifax Mooseheads in QMJHL final series
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Heartbreaking loss for Evan Boucher's Halifax Mooseheads Sunday in game six of the QMJHL final series. With less than four minutes to play the Moose had a 4-3 lead and appeared headed to game seven in Quebec for a chance to advance to the Memorial Cup. But the Patrick Roy-coached Quebec club showed why they were the top team in the league this season with a two-goal outburst late to grab the win.

Halifax battled tooth and nail but could not prevent the powerful and experienced eventual champions from claiming the title.

Local fans were treated to being able to watch Boucher play the last few games of the series live on TSN. And what a series it was. Tight, exciting and well-executed hockey played in front of two packed buildings with a sold-out crowd for Halifax at 10,000 and Quebec at 18,000 plus.

Congrats Evan on a great season full of successes.

Speaking of watching exciting hockey, I watched intently as the Brooks Bandits put on a display of precision hockey versus Battlefords North Stars in the Centennial Cup championship game with a 4-0 win. The perennial powerhouse showed why they were the top-ranked CJHL team this season with a perfect record in the championship tourney.

Featuring a line-up with 20 players committed to NCAA teams and a whopping four players on NHL Central Scouting's List for the upcoming draft, it's no wonder the Bandits achieve such heights.

But Star power doesn't necessarily mean championships and Brooks has been able to harness that talent the last few years and provide results.

With our local talent-laden Timmins Rock capping a super year with an ultra-competitive showing in the Centennial Cup, you realize how good the teams competing for the national title truly are.

Another realization? The fact of how Ontario is the largest region in the world when it comes to developing pro-level players. OK, so it's our most populous province in Canada, but there's more to it.

Ten teams at the Cup. One each from Alberta (AJHL), Sakatchewan (SJHL), Manitoba (MJHL), Quebec (LHJQ), Maritimes (MHL), and the host club. Six clubs.

The four remaining? Ontario with the NOJHL, CCHL, OJHL, and SIJHL.

No area anywhere provides more opportunity to play elite-level hockey than Ontario for our youth. Whether it's Major Junior, Junior A, B, C or D, midget, minor midget, bantam, high school, etc., Ontario "Yours to Discover" (hockey).

It does not make us better, but definitely bigger.

Ya OK, I know about the Bruins and Leafs, but if you told me Florida would have Carolina on the ropes at 3-0 I may have chuckled. (Even though nothing surprises me anymore.) But like I told you in an earlier column, nothing says winning like a team's back end. With a D anchored by Ekblad and Montour and a tender (who is invoking visions of Roy, Brodeur, Fuhr, et al) in Bobrovsky, you can afford to not dominate the shot totals or possession time. Patience, timely scoring and tight checking are paying off for Florida.

Did I mention Bobrovsky?

It's not so much Carolina doing things right, it seems Florida can do no wrong.

I did mention Bobrovsky, right?

What did make me chuckle was an observation made by a noted hockey site that wrote the following in a story of how teams can improve their chances of winning and the effects of age on that success (written just before trade deadline). In regards to Florida increasing their odds. … "Shedding Bobrovsky's pact would help".

Hope they were talking about the age quotient.

Last year we got a chance to bask in Canadian basketball glory when Andrew Wiggins played a huge part in Golden State's NBA title.

Well, we could be on the cusp of a similar scenario with Jamal Murray's superstar performance with Denver in this year's playoffs.

(Unless Miami keeps this whole Florida team's deal going!)

Would be soooooo sweet to see Murray hoist the trophy.

Later skater.

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