18 May 2018

Au Revoir, Le Colisee: Coupe Memorial 2015

When I started my quest to see a game in every NHL arena, I also hoped to see as many games in some of the older arenas which previously hosted NHL franchises.  In most cases, this would be due to the team moving to a newer building and keeping their previous arena open - but there were also a few markets in which the NHL team relocated.  Such was the case with Quebec City.

After entertaining hockey fans for over 20 years in both the WHA and NHL, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, leaving the city - and its historic arena, Le Colisee - devoid of the highest level of professional hockey.  A minor league team would quickly move into the vacated building for the following season, before giving way in 1999 to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  That year also saw the naming rights purchased by a large soda company, with the arena being re-named Colisee Pepsi.

While researching the "defunct" NHL arenas, I learned that Le Colisee would be closing its doors for good in 2015, after more than 65 years of serving Quebec City with various sporting events and concerts.  The new state-of-the-art Videotron Centre was set to open right next door with the hope of luring a new NHL franchise back to the province, but the legendary venue was given a very prominent swan song: hosting the MasterCard Memorial Cup (or Coupe Memorial, as the French-speaking locals called it), the trophy awarded to the ultimate winner of the Canadian Hockey League.

The round-robin tournament would feature the champions of the CHL's three individual leagues - the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and the QMJHL - as well as the host Remparts, and was to be held during the last ten days of May.  The opening weekend of the tournament coincided with the Memorial Day holiday, so I planned a four-day vacation in order to see every team in action over the course of three games.  I even found an Airbnb that was walking distance from Le Colisee!

09 May 2018

Squire Report, Vol 9: Playoffs

The magical run extends into the postseason, and away we go...


I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little skeptical about the Knights’ chances in this series: the Kings were an experienced team that had been through some physical playoff battles in the past, and I wasn’t sure that Vegas could match that intensity. I also keep waiting for the clock to strike midnight on this Cinderella season, but it was just not meant to be.

Right from the first game, the Knights established their own physical presence and showed that they would not be pushed around. They clamped down on defense and limited the Kings to low-percentage shots from the outside, keeping the area around Marc-Andre Fleury’s crease clear from high-danger opportunities. As a result, Los Angeles would only score THREE goals in the midst of the four-game Vegas sweep.

Fleury was outstanding in the series, pitching two shutouts and finishing with an other-worldly save percentage of .977! I’ve long been a critic of Brayden McNabb, but the former King was a warrior in the series, and ultimately scored the only goal in the clinching Game 4. This Vegas season would continue with another matchup against a California team - could they keep up their stellar play?


For their next series, the Knights would face a team who stood as a polar opposite to Los Angeles: the San Jose Sharks, who preferred a speed-oriented attack, in contrast to the heavy style played by the Kings. Seeing as how this would match the Vegas identity, the winning team would have to simply find another dimension to their game and rise up. Both teams finished off their first-round opponents with a sweep, giving each group an entire week to rest before the “track meet” began. And they’re off…

Vegas wound up shaking off the rust better than San Jose, jumping on them quick and often to cruise to a 7-0 victory in Game 1. The next two games were more evenly matched, with each team winning once in overtime, before Sharks goalie Martin Jones recorded a shutout of his own in Game 4 to even things up. Now a best-of-3 series, Vegas utilized their depth and turned to one of their impressive rookies to help close out their foes from northern California.

Popular Posts