SAINT-JEAN, N.-B. – Led by captain Mavrik Bourque, the Shawinigan Cataractes became the first team to secure participation in at least the Memorial Cup semi-final.
Bourque scored a goal and two assists, Olivier Nadeau struck power play in the third period and the QMJHL champions defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 on Thursday at TD Station.
Tagged as underdogs before the tournament, the Cataractes (2-0-0-0) are top of the table with six points, ahead of the Saint John Sea Dogs (1-0-1-0, 4 points), the Edmonton Oil Kings (0-1-0-1, 2 points) and Bulldogs (0-0-0-2, 0 points).
“I’ve said it before, but we believe in ourselves,” said Bourque. We are here to have fun. We have a nice gang of kids. And when we’re on the ice, we do our job. “
Saturday’s duel between Cataractes and Sea Dogs will determine which team will advance directly to the final on Wednesday. The underdog will face the semi-finals on Monday against the Oil Kings or the Bulldogs, who meet on Friday.
“The boys are giving inspired performances and are committed to their teammates and the team in a certain way of playing,” said assistant coach Pascal Dupuis. It’s such a close-knit group. “
Xavier Bourgault also scored a goal and two assists for the Cataractes. Antoine Coulombe stopped 38 shots in his first outing of the tournament.
“Of course there is competition between the goalkeepers, but ‘Lavy’ (Charles-Antoines Lavallée) and I have a good relationship, said Coulombe. He made me feel bad not to start the tournament. I wanted to recover tonight. “
On the side of the Bulldogs, OHL champions Mason McTavish and Avery Hayes pulled the strings. Marco Costantini made 31 saves.
The Cataractes’ power play took its toll, generating three goals in seven chances.
“There were some decisions in the third period, in a 2-2 match, that I didn’t like very much, particularly the one that led to the winning goal,” admitted Bulldogs manager Jay McKee. But this is hockey.
“They made some good plays on power play. Although we had studied them on video, their execution was splendid. […] But we can’t be frustrated. I enjoyed our effort. “
It was the Bulldogs who dictated the game at the start of the match, firing 11 of the first 12 shots on goal.
They took the opportunity to take the lead at 5:08 am, during a two-person power play. McTavish hit home with a good shot.
The Cataractes quickly turned things around by hitting the power play twice. Bourgault was the first to take advantage of a perfect pass from Bourque to equalize the game at 6:47.
Bourque then gave the Cataractes the lead at 11:42 am, three seconds in a two-man power play. The Dallas Stars prospect unleashed a powerful one-timer that gave Costantini no chance.
Meanwhile, Coulombe got lucky when a Jan Mysak shot jumped into the air after hitting his shoulder. The disc fell behind him, but into his panties. He thus deprived the hope of the Montreal Canadiens a goal.
“I heard it (the puck) and I knew I had to get off the line,” said Coulombe, who saved himself by having the back of his shirt inside his pants. .
“I never tie the belt. I’m doing well, “he added ironically.
The second period was less lively, but the Bulldogs still drew the game with 2:32 left of kick-off. Artem Grushnikov fired a long shot from the point, but the puck was deflected by Hayes’ stick blade and Coulombe was unable to adapt at the last moment to save.
The Cataractes responded 25 seconds later, but the goal was quickly disallowed when Daniel Agostino made contact with the Bulldogs keeper.
It was just a postponement, as the Cataracts’ power play resumed at the start of the third period. Nadeau completed a perfect pass match started by Bourgault and Bourque at 7:06, taking Mauricie’s side into a 3-2 lead.
Coulombe and the Cataractes defense were able to close the door on the Bulldogs afterwards.
The numerical advantage of the Cataracts made all the difference