Cataractes going with Girard in net

Shawinigan Cataractes goaltender Gabriel Girard will get the start against the London Knights on...

Shawinigan Cataractes goaltender Gabriel Girard will get the start against the London Knights on Sunday. (DIDIER DEBUSSCHERE/QMI Agency file photo)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:58 PM ET

SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - The Shawinigan Cataractes are switching things up in net.

Overager Gabriel Girard, who hasn't played since April 6, will make his Memorial Cup debut Sunday night against the OHL's London Knights, who beat the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs in their opening game.

He replaces 17-year-old Alex Dubeau, who surrendered four goals on 25 shots in a tournament-opening loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“I found out (Saturday morning),” the 20-year-old from Varennes, Que., said. “I'm excited about the opportunity. You want to end your junior career on a good note and I have a chance to make that happen.”

Girard put together a solid regular season, compiling a 20-7-1-2 record with a 2.45 goals-against average and .911 save percentage with four shutouts.

But Girard hasn't played since he allowed three late third-period goals in the opening game of Shawinigan's disastrous second-round QMJHL playoff defeat to the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.

“I've said it all year we have two great goalies and we're comfortable with whoever we put in net,” Cataractes head coach Eric Veilleux said. “(Sunday night) it's going to be Girard.”

The veteran goaltender wasn't able to get a complete feel for the London shooters while watching them play against Saint John.

“We were watching the game at the hotel and the TVs went out,” Girard said. “It was about halfway through the second period, I think the score was 2-1, and it went black. It didn't come back on.

“So we just ended up playing Xbox.”

The Knights are trying to build off the momentum of their big win over the Sea Dogs. They are 5-0 in franchise history at the Cup dating back to the 2005 tournament played on their home ice.

“They responded well,” London GM and head coach Mark Hunter said. “I think we were a little rattled the first 10 minutes (and fell behind early) but the players fought through it and played better. It's going to be another good test. Shawinigan will be ready.”

Hunter re-watched the video of the dangerous hit Saint John star Jonathan Huberdeau delivered to London's Matt Rupert on the opening shift Saturday night. The Sea Dogs captain was suspended the first two games of the Quebec league final for a similar-looking hit in the third round against Chicoutimi.

“It didn't look good,” Hunter said. “It was an elbow to the back of the head. It was bad. I don't know what they're going to do.”

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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