CHL Notebook: Exciting Sudbury off to fast, offensive start

The early part of the Ontario Hockey League season has been tough on coaches — and not because of on-ice performances.
The health of a pair of coaches became a concern recently as David Matsos of the Hamilton Bulldogs and Stan Butler of the North Bay Battalion each missed time due to health concerns.
For Matsos, the veteran coach is on the mend after collapsing behind the Bulldogs bench during a game in Barrie against the Colts on Sept. 22.
With 20 seconds to go in the game, Matsos collapsed and was taken to hospital in Barrie. He has since returned to Hamilton and the Bulldogs continue to move forward as Matsos recovers.
The team issued a statement in which Bulldogs President and General Manager Steve Staios said “We realize there are questions that remain unanswered, but until we have received all necessary medical information, the organization will not have any further comment. We ask that you respect the privacy of both he and his family moving forward. Dave will not be made available for further comment at this time.”
A timetable for his return to the bench has not been determined and Vince Laise has taken over the head coaching duties in-game while Matsos recovers.
For Butler, the initial plan was for the veteran bench boss to watch from the sidelines on Sept. 30 when the Battalion visited the Oshawa Generals.
“I’m going to take today and try to get some things sorted out,” Butler said in a release at the time.
Butler said he consulted with the Generals team doctor prior to the decision.
Two days later the Battalion announced that Butler, who serves as North Bay’s director of hockey operations in addition to head coach, would be stepping away for what assistant general manager and assistant coach Adam Dennis called “the foreseeable future.”
“Stan’s going to take a medical leave, and as of now, I’m going to assume the managerial duties,” Dennis said. “Scott Wray’s going to do a lot of what Stan did on the bench, and outside of that it’s going to be business as usual, so I think at this point we’ve all got to respect his privacy and hope for a full recovery.”
Butler has been with the Battalion franchise since its inaugural season in the OHL in 1998 when they were known as the Brampton Battalion.
On the ice, it’s been a great start to the new season for the Sudbury Wolves, a team that has struggled to win games in recent years.
Coming off a season that saw the franchise finish with the league’s worst record at 17-42-9-0, the Wolves picked up an overtime victory over the Kitchener Rangers on Sunday to improve to 6-2-0-0.
The Wolves are coming off a stretch that has seen the franchise finish below .500 in four-straight seasons – and three of those times they finished with the Eastern Conference’s worst record.
Backed by strong starts from key players including 2015 top pick David Levin (three goals, seven points) and 2018 top pick Quinton Byfield (three goals, three assists) among others, the Wolves are among the OHL’s best early on this season.
The team has also received strong goaltending from Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who has posted a 5-0-0-0 record and 1.78 goals-against average in five games. The 19-year-old has a .944 save percentage.
Just how good have the Baie-Comeau Drakkar been offensively to start the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season?
A quick scan of the league scoring leaders will tell you that Baie-Comeau is a team that will be tough to play and their run-and-gun style has led to them icing four of the league’s top six scorers.
That list includes 17-year-old Nathan Legare, who comes out of the weekend as the QMJHL’s leading scorer with seven goals and 15 points in eight games for the 7-0-0-1 Drakkar.
In his second QMJHL season, Legare is already well on his way to topping his offensive totals from a rookie season in which he scored 10 goals and 29 points in 62 games.
Averaging just under five goals per game, Drakkar’s 39 goals are two more than the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who sit second overall with a record of 7-1-0-0.
With 17 goals between the two of them, Legare and Yaroslav Alexeyev — who leads the league with 10 — have set a high standard offensively that will be tough to match this season.

Thursday January 01, 1970

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Thursday January 01, 1970

While the Drakkar have used a deadly offensive attack to lead the way in Quebec, the Western Hockey League has seen its early-season leader take control of the standings by way of a stifling defence.
The Victoria Royals are the only unbeaten team still standing in the WHL at 6-0-0-0 and they have surrendered just 11 goals this season.
Overage netminder Griffin Outhouse has been lights out this season thanks to a .944 save percentage and 1.85 goals-against average in six starts.
The early-season numbers aren’t exactly out of the norm for Outhouse, who has been solid for the Royals throughout his WHL career, including a rookie season in which he posted a 1.82 GAA and .937 save percentage in 27 games.
Not to be outdone, the Vancouver Giants have kept pace with the Royals in the B.C. Division with just 11 goals against through seven games.
Much like their provincial counterpart, Vancouver has received great goaltending early on this season as Arizona Coyotes prospect David Tendeck has a 1.58 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in five games.

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