Little French goes long way

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Though the visiting Oceanic team had been labelled unco-operative by some for their "Vamooski" practice tactics at the start of the Cup tournament, London's Laura Bonk e-mailed to say she and her family had the opposite experience with Sidney Crosby's teammates.

With her daughter parlez-ing in French, she said meeting the personable group of 'Nics players was no different than an encounter with the Knights. She said the players talked about London as a beautiful city, the 12-hour trip from Rimouski and how some of them have never been to Ontario before. She mentioned that sometimes a language barrier can appear to be "avoidance" rather than a simple communication issue.

Games draw television ratings

Rogers Sportsnet says the first four games of this Memorial Cup have pulled in the highest ratings for Canadian Hockey League programming in the network's seven-year history. London's 4-2 victory over Kelowna on Monday drew an audience of 595,000. The Knights' opening-night 4-3 overtime win against Rimouski on Saturday was second at 593,000, the Oceanic's 4-3 win over Ottawa on Tuesday third with 497,000 and Ottawa's marathon 3-2, double-overtime win over Kelowna on Sunday pulled in 436,000.

West best for 50-50 draws

There's a deep tradition of 50-50 draws in Canadian major junior hockey, but no one takes it more seriously than the fans in the West. In Kelowna last year, the winner's share of the 50-50 draw at the final game of the Memorial Cup tournament was $18,000 -- and that's in an arena that holds 6,400 spectators. At an average Knights game, first prize in the draw usually nets in the $1,800 range.

Crosby stuff found on the Net

Imagine This Sold, Canada's first eBay drop-off franchise, announced the listing of a signed Sidney Crosby Rimouski Oceanic "away" jersey and stick. The jersey is a reproduction of the sweater currently worn by Crosby. The auction runs until Sunday at the website www.imaginethissold.com/Sidney.html. Proceeds will be donated to the Special Olympics.

More stars than meteor shower

All week, the Memorial Cup tournament has seen a who's who of the hockey world parading through the JLC. Last night, locked-out Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi, former Knight Brad Marsh and ex-goalie Gene Chiarello participated in the opening puck drop. Chiarello, who is recovering from cancer, has been seen riding on his motorcycle in downtown London this week. Also, former Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower signed autographs (only on Canada Post product, mind you) and former Buffalo Sabre Rene Robert was in the building.

No draft for 14-year-old phenom

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced yesterday that 14-year-old phenom Patrice Cormier of Cap-Pele, N.B., will not be included in its draft because nobody made a case for him to be selected. Commissioner Gilles Courteau said no request was received from Cormier, his parents or any of the 18 teams to give him the exceptional status needed to make him available for the June 4 draft. The Ontario Hockey League recently gave exceptional status to John Tavares, who turns 15 in September. He was then selected first overall by the Oshawa Generals. Cormier, a six-foot-two, 190-pound centre -- and said to still be growing -- split last season between a junior A team and a midget club in Moncton.


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