Oceanic fail in bid to get CHL record

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:10 PM ET

The Rimouski Oceanic aren't even in town yet and they're already sniping at the London Knights, perhaps trying to get them off their game.

The Oceanic, expected to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship and qualify for the Memorial Cup, are upset their 35-game unbeaten streak won't be recognized by the Canadian Hockey League.

The Knights' 31-game undefeated streak to begin this season stands as the longest in major junior history.

OHL commissioner David Branch, who is also CHL president, participated in a banner unveiling at the John Labatt Centre to honour the Knights' achievement.

The Oceanic, featuring future NHL star Sidney Crosby, saw their streak end during the Quebec league semifinals.

The Oceanic's previous loss was Dec. 29 while Crosby was playing with Canada at the world junior championship.

The Knights' streak had ended two weeks earlier, with Corey Perry and Danny Syvret at the Canadian junior camp and Rob Schremp with the U.S. squad.

"We're not going to make a big deal of it," Oceanic owner Maurice Tanguay told the Hockey News.

But he was quick to add that perhaps a showdown between the Oceanic and the Knights in the Memorial Cup final on May 29 would be a good way to prove once and for all who has the best team.

"If it happens, I'm sure it would make a good show for the fans," Tanguay said.

CHL director of information Aaron Bell said yesterday an undefeated streak is only recognized when it's compiled during the regular season.

He said Rimouski's streak won't be honoured because it overlapped the regular season and the playoffs. The Oceanic's regular-season streak was halted at 28 games -- because the schedule ended.

The Oceanic will, however, get their name in the QMJHL record book for the longest undefeated streak in that league's history. They eclipsed the 1973-74 Sorel Eperviers, who went 27 games without a loss.

The Oceanic's complaint is moot, as London and Rimouski have nothing on the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings. They had held the CHL's undefeated record of 29 games, which came at the start of the 1978-79 season.

But the Wheat Kings actually went 49 games without a loss, a span that began Feb. 11, 1978, of the previous season, continued through the playoffs as they won the WHL championship, and on to Dec. 13, 1978.

The Wheat Kings are in the WHL record book, but they, too, won't be recognized by the CHL.

No doubt the debate will continue right into the Memorial Cup. The Knights, incidentally, open the tournament May 21 against the Quebec league champion.


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