(Kamloops) The Quebec Remparts were airtight defensively and shut out the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0 to win the Memorial Cup on Sunday night.
Driven by the brilliance of goaltender William Rousseau and by a collective effort in all situations, the Remparts won the third Memorial Cup in their history, after the triumphs of 1971 and 2006.
For a fourth consecutive tournament, a QMJHL team lifted the most important trophy in Canadian junior hockey. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan (2018), the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2019) and the Saint-Jean Sea Dogs (2022) preceded the Remparts, while the event did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vsevolod Komarov, James Malatesta, Kassim Gaudet, Zachary Bolduc and Charles Savoie moved the ropes for the Remparts, who had just won their first QMJHL title since 1976 to enter the Memorial Cup tournament.
“I think after the first game a lot of people were doubting us, maybe saying, ‘Oh, they got lucky,'” said Remparts forward and tournament MVP James Malatesta. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but I think tonight our defense came through, the attack came through. »
“Overall I think we played one of our best games of the year. I think it speaks to the group of guys we have, we always believe in ourselves and we would never be afraid of any opponent. »
Rousseau made several key saves among his 32 during the game. It was the first Finals shutout since 2018, when Evan Fitzpatrick guided the Titan to a 3-0 win over the Regina Pats.
On the side of the Thunderbirds, the best elements were muzzled by the defensive work of their opponents. The Seattle side were in the tournament final for the first time in their history.
Thomas Milic, who won gold with Canada at the last World Junior Hockey Championship, saved 30 of 35 pucks aimed at him.
“I think we played our best Memorial Cup game,” Roy said. I was a little nervous, I’m not going to lie, before the game started.
I was impressed to see how the guys jumped and focused, controlled their emotions and engaged physically. It was so nice to see and I was really proud of our group for what they did tonight. »
A WHL team hasn’t won the Memorial Cup since 2014. Back then, the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Guelph Storm.
Despite the Thunderbirds’ intense forecheck, the Remparts got off to a good start. Pier-Olivier Roy came in front of Milic, but his feint could not outsmart the goalkeeper.
Patrick Roy’s men recovered at 6:31. Nathan Gaucher recovered the puck along the boards and passed it to Gaudet to start a two-on-one climb. Gaudet gave the disc on the other side to Komarov, who hit the target in the top corner.
The Quebec team immediately had the opportunity to double its lead, during a power play, but the opposing defense resisted. The Thunderbirds also closed the door on another power play late in the first period.
The Thunderbirds also had their chance with an extra player midway through the second period, but Rousseau set the tone for what was to come with a nice pad save.
Moments later, Malatesta got a breakaway, but Milic got in front of him. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect then rallied on a three-on-two comeback, beating Milic with a shot from the slot after accepting a pass from Komarov.
The Remparts’ penalty kill unit acted up in the third period. Nicolas Savoie blocked a shot and Justin Robidas came on the right wing in two against one. He passed the puck to Gaudet, who extended his team’s lead.
In the last minutes of the game, and after a stupid penalty from forward Dylan Guenther, Bolduc fired a precise one-timer to drive the final nail in the coffin.
Charles Savoie added with 2:05 to go.