Article by Henry Whitfield
Looking for positives this season is like looking for a needle in a haystack. They are in there; you just need to look really hard.
Prior to the season Cam Russell had reinforced the fact that the Mooseheads would continue to rebuild and get younger in a bid to get back to being a powerhouse in the QMJHL again. Now sitting at the bottom of the league with just 19 points in their first forty one games, we recap the first half of the season and pick out the bright spots as Moose fight to make it into the playoffs and turn around the season.
When Cam Russell acquired 19-year-old Spencer Metcalfe in the preseason one thing was in mind: Toughness.
As the season moves on, Metcalfe leads the league with 113 penalty minutes, dropping the gloves on a frequent basis with 13 fighting majors. Draft pick Sawyer Hannay has picked up the fighting touch and trails with 9 fighting majors, while Garret Clarke has 8. With a league leading total 51 fighting majors this season, the Moose have taken a turn towards being a much more physical and gritty team on the ice. Being able to protect their younger players as they find their footing in the league will help the Moose as they rebuild for the future.
With Cam Russell acknowledging before the season that the team would be getting younger, it was the end of the road for fan favourites Ben MacAskill and Eric Louis-Seize, while the door was opened for highly touted draft picks Brent Andrews and Konrad Abeltshauser to step up and make the team. Yuri Cheremetiev was the next player to fall victim to the youth movement as he was traded to the Bathurst Titan in October.
Heading into the trade deadline, Russell was active dealing enforcer 19-year-old Spencer Metcalfe to the Moncton Wildcats for a seventh-round draft pick in 2011. The Moose wrapped up deadline day by dealing Guillaume Pelletier to P.E.I. for 17-year-old winger Bradley MacDonald and picking up Veteran goalie Peter Delmas from the Quebec Remparts for a sixth-round draft pick in 2011.
Injury to the team has seen a dozen players miss games, hurting the on ice chemistry. Most significant being the injuries to Gerrad Grant, who started the season out of the action, and knee injuries to young defencemen Clarke and Abeltshauser. Over the holiday season, the Moose ran into more injury trouble as they lost Clarke again, this time to a concussion, and Linden Bahm to a broken wrist.
Don’t worry Moose fans, the future is bright. There are eight rookies currently seeing regular ice time for the Moose, including backup goalie Joel Grondin and first round draft pick Brent Andrews.
At the start of the season, the Mooseheads chose to give promising young players Matthew Boudreau, Trey Lewis and Jamie Bishop another season to develop. Halfway through the season Boudreau leads the Quebec midget AAA with 39 points in 24 games and both Lewis and Bishop have looked solid with their respective teams.
As injuries plague the Moose heading into the second half of the season, look to some of these young players to get a shot at cracking the second half roster.
3rd Star – Spencer Metcalfe – Not only did he lead the league with 13 fighting majors and make players think twice before going after our talented players, he was the only Moose to have a positive plus/minus with a +3 rating. Metcalfe made up for his low offensive output with solid defensive play and hard work on a nightly basis.
2nd Star – Tomas Knotek – In a season with few highlights, Knotek has provided some exciting play on the ice and continued to score without a lot of talent up front to feed him the puck. The Moose Captain looked great before flying off to the World Juniors and will hopefully return with a new energy to boost the club down the stretch.
1st Star – Mathieu Corbeil – It’s hard to play for a losing team but it is even harder to do it in your first season as a starter. All eight Moosehead wins have come with him in net and without his solid play in net it would be hard to see the Moose having any at all. His play has improved and he will be a key to any Moose success in the second half.