SHAWINIGAN, Que. – The Saint John Sea Dogs fell short in their bid to repeat as MasterCard Memorial Cup champions, losing 7-4 to the host Shawinigan Cataractes in semifinal action Friday.
The back-to-back President’s Cup champions came back from deficits of 2-1 and 4-2 before eventually falling to the host Cataractes, who were eliminated in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Tomas Jurco had two goals and Zack Phillips added a goal and an assist in what was likely the last junior game for a dozen Sea Dogs veterans. Jonathan Huberdeau had the other Saint John goal. Mathieu Corbeil allowed six goals on 36 shots in the loss.
The team’s dominant three-year run included three straight QMJHL regular-season titles on the strength of three straight 50-win, 100-point seasons, all historical firsts in the league. Saint John won two President’s Cups in a row and last year became the first team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup.
Michael Chaput had two goals and an assist for the Cataractes, Brandon Gormley had a goal and two assists and Anton Zlobin racked up three assists. Shawinigan also got goals from Michael Bournival, Loik Poudrier, Yannick Veilleux and Pierre-Olivier Morin. Gabriel Girard made 24 saves for the win.
Shawinigan, which received a free pass to the tournament as host team, advances to Sunday’s national major junior championship game against the Ontario League champion London Knights. The final is set for 8 p.m. Atlantic Time Sunday and will be televised on Sportsnet.
Phillips opened the scoring at 4:29 when his shot beat Girard. Nathan Beaulieu picked up the assist on the third of the tournament for Phillips.
The Cataractes charged right back, with Bournival equalizing at 6:51 and Gormley putting them up 2-1 with a point shot at 9:24.
Jurco’s long shot found its way through on a power play at 12:35, with assists from Kevin Gagne and Pierre Durepos.
Shawinigan pulled ahead again in the second with two goals in 1:25. First Poudrier deflected on in off his skate at 9:14, then Chaput connected on a power play at 10:39.
Huberdeau got a fortunate bounce to get the Dogs back within one at 16:39. The captain threw a one-hopper on net from his own blue line that bounded past Girard for a short-handed goal.
At 9:16 of the third, Jurco evened things back up with his second. Phillips won a faceoff to Girard’s left and the slick Slovakian ripped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle.
Veilleux put the Cataractes back in front, deflecting one through Corbeil’s short side at 13:14. That goal stood as the game-winner, with Chaput’s empty-netter icing it at 19:08. Morin tacked on another goal at 19:50 to round out the summary.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)