BRANDON — It wasn’t the prettiest of goals.
But Calgary Hitmen winger Tyler Shattock will always remember it as a beauty.
Shattock scored the game-winner with 1:18 remaining in regulation time as the Hitmen beat the Moncton Wildcats 5-4 in the Memorial Cup opener for both teams.
Wildcats defenceman David Savard rimmed the puck behind his net, but it took a weird bounce off the boards and came out in front, where Shattock cashed it in.
“I was more shocked than anyone on the ice that the puck ended up there,” Shattock said. “I just gave ’er a whack, and it happened to go in the five-hole.
“It’s not the prettiest goal of my career, but it’s probably the biggest, for sure. I’d like to tell you guys I did see the five-hole. But I’ll be modest and tell you I got a break, and I’m happy it went in.
Tyler Fiddler, Joel Broda, Giffen Nyren and Kris Foucault also scored for the Hitmen, who overcame a pair of two-goal deficits with four third-period goals against the QMJHL champs.
The Hitmen, the WHL kings, will face the OHL-champion Windsor Spitfires Monday.
Alex Saulnier had a pair of goals, while Savard and Devon MacAusland also found the net for the Wildcats.
After potting the winner, Shattock charged towards a section of ecstatic Hitmen fans and jumped face-first into the glass.
“I was pretty excited,” Shattock said. “Our fans have been great all year. It was great to see them and hear them out there. So I thought it was fitting to go jump into the glass for those guys.”
Martin Jones kicked out 34 pucks to record the victory, while Nicola Riopel made 22 stops for the Wildcats.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Hitmen got exactly what they needed on an early shift. Jones made a massive stop on Kelsey Tessier on a Wildcats 2-on-1, and Broda picked the top corner at the other end seconds later to make it a one-goal game.
But on a Moncton powerplay, Saulnier took the puck from the corner to the net and shovelled in his second of the game.
Nyren brought the Hitmen back once again with a powerplay goal of his own when he blasted a slapper through traffic, and Foucault tied it up with 3:31 to play on a tap-in at the side of the net.
Broda, who also had an assist, said his squad never doubted it could come back despite trailing by two goals twice in the final frame.
“It tests the confidence you have in your team and yourself,” Broda said. “You have to make sure you keep believing and rely on each other to get yourself out of that situation.
“We felt we shouldn’t have been down two goals. But the guys stuck together and kept working.”
Riopel said he’d hold his head high despite the third-period meltdown.
“I don’t think I had a bad game,” Riopel said. “Maybe I would like to have my third period back. They played with desperation and they found a way to win.”
The Wildcats jumped all over the Hitmen in the opening period. If not for Jones, the Hitmen, who were outshot 13-3, would have been in a much deeper hole. MacAusland and Savard scored in the first period before Saulnier made it 3-0 Wildcats in the second.
With 1:08 to play in the middle stanza, Cowan found Fiddler in the left faceoff circle, and the winger gave the Hitmen some life by finding the short side.