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Victoriaville will be returning to action for the first time since Jan. 31 after a number of positive COVID-19 tests put the Tigres on the sideline.
Chicoutimi, meanwhile, was limited to just two games in the Quebec City bubble, as the Sags joined late having done a precautionary quarantine — although no Saguenéens tested positive for the virus.
It's the Foreurs who are making headlines for the matches actually happening, as Val-d'Or will head into the next round of bubble action with a seven-game winning streak. There doesn't appear to be any chemistry issues with the Abitibi-based club after the addition of superstar forwards Samuel Poulin and Nathan Légaré, world junior defenceman Jordan Spence and dependable blueliner Xavier Bernard.
On Feb. 12-13, all eyes were on Val-d’Or as the Foreurs tangled with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada — at the time the two clubs had the two best winning percentages in the QMJHL. Val-d'Or completed a sweep with a 3-2 overtime win and a 6-4 triumph. Despite the two losses, Blainville-Boisbriand remains tied for third in the league in winning percentage with the surprising Quebec Remparts.
Perhaps Val-d'Or's best competition resides in the Maritimes. The Charlottetown Islanders are on a five-game winning streak and are tied for the QMJHL's top spot. The Isles have the most wins, 20, of any QMJHL team.
Charlottetown has been led by the two-headed monster of 20-year-olds Cédric Desruisseaux and Thomas Casey, with 49 and 46 points respectively. Former Cape Breton Eagle Shawn Element of Victoriaville is 15 points behind in the scoring race.
It's difficult to evaluate Charlottetown as they've played 12 consecutive games against either Cape Breton or Halifax, youthful rebuilding squads. As the province of New Brunswick remains under orange code, its three QMJHL teams haven't participated since November with no immediate return in sight.
New Brunswick's COVID issues have contributed to a sizable scheduling gap — the Moncton Wildcats have played just 13 games, while Rouyn-Noranda has skated in 28. Quarantining has limited Victoriaville to just 14 contests, while Halifax and Rimouski have taken part in 27 games each. But as the last few months have shown, through pandemic, disparities and delays, the QMJHL soldiers on in 2020-21.
Patrick McNeil is the play-by-play announcer with the Cape Breton Eagles.