The Shawinigan Cataractes became well-known throughout the QMJHL playoffs for, among other things, two trademarks; an outstanding powerplay and come-from-behind wins. They used the former to earn the latter this evening in Saint John, defeating the OHL Champion Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 to remain undefeated at the 2022 Memorial Cup presented by Kia.
The top line of Xavier Bourgault, Mavrik Bourque and Olivier Nadeau accounted not only for all the goals on the evening for the Cataractes (2-0-0-0), but eight of a possible nine points as well. Antoine Coulombe made his tournament debut between the pipes for the President Cup Champions and turned in a 38-save performance. Mason McTavish and Avrey Hayes replied for the Bulldogs (0-0-0-2), who got 31 saves from netminder Marco Constantini.
The Bulldogs, who outshot Shawinigan 19-9 in the first and controlled the play for an extended period of the opening frame, opened the scoring at the 5:08 mark. While on a two-man powerplay, Nathan Staios fed McTavish, who made no mistake snapping a one-timer past Coulombe. Awarded a powerplay of their own, the Cataractes cashed in under two minutes later when Bourgault converted on Bourque’s no-look cross-ice feed to tie things up. The Cataractes would take a 2-1 lead at 11:42, exactly three seconds after kicking off their 5-on-3 man advantage when Bourgault fed Bourque off the draw, who would in turn blast a one-timer from the line past Costantini.
After an extended streak of scoreless play, the Bulldogs would tie things up at the 17:28 mark of the second frame as Hayes deftly deflected a point shot from Artem Grushnikov that Coulombe could only get a piece of. It would prove to be all the offense on display during the period, which saw the Bulldogs hold a 10-9 edge in shots.
The Cataractes’ powerplay, the best in the CHL during the regular season, went to work yet again to retake the lead at 7:06 of the third period. This time it was Nadeau who finished off a perfect set of cross-ice passes from Bourgault and Bourque by tipping the puck past Costantini on the doorstep. It would hold up as the game-winner as the Cataractes outshot the Bulldogs 16-11 in the final frame.
The Bulldogs now find themselves looking to stave off elimination from the 2022 Memorial Cup presented by Kia. They’ll get a chance to do just that when they take on the WHL Champion Edmonton Oil Kings tomorrow night at 6pm ET/7pm AT.