May 25, 2012
Cataractes top Sea Dogs to reach Memorial Cup
By RYAN PYETTE, QMI AGENCY
SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - The Shawinigan Cataractes didn't make it past the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Memorial Cup hosts hadn't played a game in a month before the tournament started.
But now, they'll face the London Knights for the Canadian Hockey League title on Sunday night after shocking the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs with a riveting 7-4 semifinal victory before 4,763 Friday night at Centre Bionest.
“It's good to be the underdog,” said Michael Chaput, who scored twice and has been Shawinigan's most impressive forward to date. “We proved some people wrong who didn't think we'd make it to the final. I thought in the first game we played, maybe we were tight and gripping our sticks. The finish wasn't there at the start, but we're not as nervous anymore.”
There's no more rust in Shawinigan's game now. They just finished playing on three consecutive nights, became the third team in tournament history to advance to the final from the tiebreaker and draw well-rested London, which hasn't played since Tuesday, in major junior hockey's biggest game.
Shawinigan handed London its only loss, 6-2, in the round-robin portion last Sunday.
“You see in this tournament, Saint John beat us, then we beat them, so it doesn't really matter what happened,” said big forward Yannick Veilleux, who tipped home the game-winning goal with 6:46 left in the third. “We know it's going to be a tough game. They're the Ontario Hockey League champions.”
The Cataractes have their offence cooking. They have racked up 13 goals in two elimination games, sending the Edmonton Oil Kings home and ending the rival Sea Dogs' dream of back-to-back titles.
Saint John tied it up midway through the third on Tomas Jurco's second of game the game, but Veilleux got a piece of another dangerous point shot from Canadian world junior defenceman Brandon Gormley, who has nine points in five Cup games.
“Gormley's point shots, it's like they have eyes,” Veilleux said. “Somehow, they get through bodies and traffic and I just tried to tip it down. It hit my blade and went in.”
The Cataractes are a resilient bunch. They didn't let Jurco's tying goal rattle them or a long-distance, shorthanded dump-in by Saint John's Jonathan Huberdeau that skipped past overage goalie Gabriel Girard in the second period to cut a two-goal lead in half.
“The guys all said don't worry about,” the overage puckstopper said. “It was a bad bounce. That happens. We got the win and I've never heard a building that loud before.”
Saint John, pre-tournament favourites looking to cement their status as a junior hockey dynasty, figured it got its wakeup call by losing its opening game to London. They needed another one in the middle of the semifinal.
“The second period killed us,” said Jurco, whose club was outshot 20-8 and left trailing by a goal heading to the third. “We didn't want to work. We came here to win another Memorial Cup, that was our goal, and we didn't do it.”
Shawinigan, one of Quebec's original franchises and most star-crossed organizations, has never won a Cup title. They lost in the 1985 final to Prince Albert when they were last hosts – but the tournament was played mostly in Drummondville because old Jacques Plante Arena wasn't suitable for TV broadcasts.
The Cats have a chance to become the second tiebreaker team to win the Cup after Windsor did it three years ago in Rimouski. London's star forward Austin Watson played for those Spitfires.
A Quebec-based team hasn't won the Cup since Patrick Roy's Remparts beat Moncton in New Brunswick in 2006.
There has been only one Quebec league host – the Claude Julien-coached Hull Olympiques in 1997 – to win the title since the current tournament format was adopted in 1983.
Shawinigan gave up the game's first goal less than five minutes in, but they took the lead on a couple of controversial goals.
Hometown son Michael Bournival was credited with a goal that needed a lengthy video review, then Gormley scored right after Saint John forward Stanislav Galiev was cut in the face by a high stick that wasn't called.
Late in the third with fog on the ice, Girard made a fine blocker save. The tiny goalie from Varennes, Que. hadn't played in 44 days when he beat London last Sunday, but he was asked to play three games in three nights this week – and won the last two.
“We're going to get a day,” he said, “and then, we'll be ready to go again on Sunday.”
2012 MEMORIAL CUP
Shawinigan 7, Saint John 4
Cataractes goals: Michael Chaput (2), Michael Bournival, Brandon Gormley, Loik Poudrier, Yannick Veilleux, Pierre-Olivier Morin
Sea Dogs goals: Tomas Jurco (2), Zack Phillips, Jonathan Huberdeau
Next: Shawinigan faces London in the championship final on Sunday at 7 p.m.