AP's Coaches Blog; Plan the Parade, Leaf Fans!

The 2017-18 version of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks good. Real good.

After having the opportunity to watch the Leafs through the video scope, this is a team to be reckoned with. While the buds may lack a true number 1 defenceman (so did Pittsburgh last year and did just fine), Toronto move the puck extremely well and have a really impressive mix of high-end skill, sandpaper, speed, youth, and experience up and down the order. Any one of Toronto's two PP units are capable of getting the job done on any given night, and adding veteran Eric Fehr for his excellence on the Penalty Kill was an unheralded, but wise move by GM Lou Lamoriello and company. The NHL's Eastern Conference has some good teams this year, but I would not be one bit surprised if the Leafs are still playing in June.

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St. John's has a new basketball team, and before I pass comment or make any judgements, I'm going to go down to Mile One and check out a game. Basketball is a fun sport to watch live, and I'm willing to give the team a chance. Kudos to the individuals responsible for landing a team here in Sin City now that there is a professional sports void left by the Ice Caps. Now if Mile One was only more feasible... but that's another story for another time.

The Atlantic Challenge Cup was held in Moncton, New Brunswick this past weekend, and HNL (as a whole) did... just OK. HNL's Male U14 squad went winless at the tournament (0-5), which is definitely not ideal but there's nowhere to go but up in 2018. These tournaments are about development, and I feel that NL has some high-end players in the 2004 age group that could break out next year. I felt that NL's best chance at a medal in 2017 was the Male U15 team, who went 1-2 in round robin play but slipped past New Brunswick in the semi-finals. Nova Scotia have had NL's number in this age group for a long time, and the trend continued this past weekend as the Scotians beat NL by a combined score of 14-3 in two games. Back-to-back silver medals at this event is not too shabby for the '03 squad; congrats boys!

On the female side, the U16 NL contingent took the bronze in dramatic fashion. by defeating PEI 4-3. Lexie Small scored in the dying minutes of the third period to secure the bronze for NL; X Hockey was well-represented in all divisions, but #xhockeyplayers Abby Newhook had arguably the most dominant performance of any player from our program. Newhook racked up 10 points (9 goals) in 5 tournament games, which is mighty impressive for the Boston College commit. First-year defenceman Anna Barrington picked up an assist in the bronze medal game, while Mack Cahill registered 2 points (1G, 1A). Defenceman Claudia Walsh and Jordyn Chaulk did not register any points for the blueshirts, but from the action that I saw, both played well! The U18 ladies did not medal at this years ACC, finishing their tournament with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Nova Scotia. #xhockeyplayers Maggie Connors led the way for Team NL, racking up 7 points with Shailynn Snow finishing second on the team with 5. Other program regulars that participated on Team NL were Shae-Lynn Clarke, and Isabella Weist; congrats to all X Hockey girls who participated in the ACC this weekend!

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