FIDDLER'S FACTS: Balance of power shifting in QMJHL

Fred MacDonald fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com
Published on December 17, 2016

Charlottetown Islanders forward Daniel Sprong is currently working his way back to the ice with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fiddler speculates he could return to the Islanders lineup in the near future.

©Jason Malloy/TC Media

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The balance of power in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League appears to have undergone a significant change from the Quebec-based teams to the Maritime teams and that’s great news for Maritime and, especially, P.E.I. hockey fans.

Heading into play this weekend, Saint John is first overall with a 21-7-3-1 record and 46 points while the red-hot Charlottetown Islanders are fifth overall with 41 points but they’ve beaten top clubs like Rouyn-Noranda and Shawinigan both here and in Quebec.

Other Maritime clubs like Cape Breton and  Acadie-Bathurst are among the top 10 overall with 35 points while Halifax has 33 points and in the Mooseheads lineup are leading scorer Maxime Fortier (52 points) and the third highest in Nico Hischild with 48 points.

What makes all of this more intriguing is the fact that Islanders standout forward Daniel Sprong is now working out with the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins and could very likely be added to the Islanders lineup in the near future. He could also be traded to a Quebec contender for a big package but that’s not likely since the Islanders with Sprong could end up first overall.

Regardless of what happens in the new few weeks, the Islanders will likely be stronger in the second half of the season. The Charlottetown-based team has beaten all the top clubs in the Q and have as much talent and depth as any contender. As I’ve said so many times in the past, to win at any level whether Super Bowl, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the “Q”, a team must have three items in their favour: a) the team must have enough talent, b) it must stay healthy, not losing key people and c) it must be lucky, get the breaks, the calls at crucial times. From what we’ve seen, the Islanders have plenty of skill but can they maintain the other two. A trip to the Memorial Cup, it can happen. 

In other “Q” notes, Cornwall’s Chris McQuaid, just 16, looked some impressive and played a regular shift with the strong Rouyn-Noranda club here a few weeks ago. There’s lots to love about McQuaid (1-4,5 pts): size, skating, shot, an edge in his game and a great hockey IQ. If you could buy shares in this guy, I’d mortgage the house - he’s the real deal; Noah Dobson (1-7, 8 pts.) is also a 16-year-old defenceman with Acadie-Bathurst Titan by way of Summerside. Like McQuaid, he has it all talent, size, skating ability, etc. and a big time future.

On the track

Live harness racing continues today with another 16-dash card, post time 12:30 sharp.

Marc Campbell will likely add to his record CDP wins total for a single season as he has 10 live drives, including favourites Freddie in the $1,850 open trot and Eagle Jolt in the $2,100 top class pace event.

Billy O’Donnell and I had a great time doing the pedigrees and background on the The Stable.ca open house last Saturday in Campbellville, Ont., where 44 horses were showcased to a world wide audience via Facebook Live with owners buying shares from Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, England, Ireland, and states as far away as Florida and Arizona. Despite the weather, new owners arrived from northern New York for the entire day. Drivers Sylvan Filion, Jody Jamieson, Billy Davis, Paul MacKenzie, Dan O’Brien and James MacDonald went with the babies. Bringing new owners into the game is great for harness racing in general and especially for trainers here in P.E.I. and in Ontario.

Marc and Tasha Campbell  plan on going ahead with a similar idea here and again it’s great for the game, because new fractional owners means more horses.

I had a chance to drop in and see Harry Poulton who has a sharp looking filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Derek Buntain’s

ASS stakes champion Malabrigo. Hopefully, the good news helps Derek recovery after recent surgery.

At Woodbine tonight, James MacDonald handles Modern Legend in the $34,000 top class and it’s the big pacer’s debut after two qualifiers.

The Meadowlands is dark tonight because of the NFL’s New York Jets game next door.

At Pompano Park, Florida, Wally Hennessey is running away with the driving title with 209 wins, year-to-date, while another Islander John MacDonald is second at 174 and Kevin Wallis third with 172 wins.

PIGSKIN PICKS

We missed the big Giants upset of Dallas last week but so did ex-UPEI football great Mike Lyriotokis who now wants back on the Giants bandwagon.

Sunday, the G-Men entertain first-place Detroit and it’s like this, if the Giants can beat Dallas they can also beat Detroit in Gotham. The Giants are favoured by 4.5 points;  

Philadelphia at Baltimore: the Ravens are in a life and death struggle with Pittsburgh for first in their division, the Eagles are playing out the string. Baltimore at home is a lock and the spread a meagre four points;

Indianapolis at Minnesota: Colts can’t seem to be able to protect QB Andrew Luck whose taking more hits than George Chuvalo. The Viking can keep their faint playoff hopes alive with a win and star running back Adrian Pederson may play. If you bet the Vikings, you’ve giving up four points on the spread; Go ahead;

Green Bay at Chicago: Aaron Rodgers looked fit as a fiddle last week in their rout of Seattle and against arch-rival Chicago, they’re four-point favorites. Even ex-Colonel Gray lineman Mitch Tweel gets this one right; bet the Packers.

For all you New England haters out there, Sunday is another chance as the Patriots visit Denver where they’ve lost their last two, including the playoffs last season.

Do you think, quarterback Brady and Belichick with their much improved offensive line will lose three straight to Denver, I don’t. Denver is three-point home dogs and they should be. As always, pay the mortgage first, the picks are for fun.