Dufour scores four goals against the Cataractes and the Sea Dogs advance to the final
Alexis Belanger-Champagne, The Canadian Press
SAINT-JEAN, N.-B. — Forty-eight days after a troublesome elimination against the Rimouski Océanic in the first round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, the Saint-Jean Sea Dogs will play for the Memorial Cup title.
And they can thank the MVP of the last season in the QMJHL, William Dufour, for carrying them almost alone in the final.
Dufour scored four times and the tournament host came from a three-goal deficit before defeating the Shawinigan Cataractes 5-3 on Saturday at TD Station to close the preliminary round.
“It was amazing. We were down 3-0 then we made it 3-3 in six minutes, said Dufour, still emotional after the game. The caps, the standing supporters, what a feeling!”
The Sea Dogs (2-0-1-0) needed a victory in regulation time to edge out the Cataractes (2-0-0-1) at the top of the overall standings.
For their part, the Cataractes, champions of the QMJHL, will play in the semi-finals on Monday against the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Mauricie team defeated the OHL champions 3-2 on Thursday.
If the Cataractes players refused to say that they let their guard down after the first period, head coach Daniel Renaud admitted the opposite.
« At 3-0, we possibly projected ourselves into the future, in the final, » said Renaud. But the good news is that we will play in the semi-finals of the Memorial Cup.
Jérémie Poirier also hit the target for the Sea Dogs, who will be aiming for a second Memorial Cup title. Nikolas Hurtubise stopped 26 shots.
Dufour was the star of the game. He fired 15 of 36 shots on goal, allowing the Sea Dogs to overthrow the Cataracts.
“(Dufour) has grown a lot as a player and as a teammate. He’s become a point guard, said Sea Dogs head coach Gardiner MacDougall, who replaced Gordie Dwyer behind the bench after they were eliminated.
« When your stallion is at the front of the group, everyone follows him, » he added.
Loris Rafanomezantsoa, Olivier Nadeau and William Veillette generated the Cataractes offensive. Antoine Coulombe made 31 saves.
In two times
The Cataractes quickly opened the scoring after 49 seconds of play, when a shot from Rafanomezantsoa snuck through traffic.
Both goaltenders made a few good saves afterward, but the Cataractes managed to widen the gap before the end of the period.
Nadeau first deflected a Zachary Massicotte shot in the top half with 5:27 to go.
Veillette then beat Hurtubise with a good backhand shot with 43 seconds left.
The tide quickly turned in the second period, when Dufour sounded the charge for the Sea Dogs.
Dufour first scored two goals in an interval of 21 seconds. He beat Coulombe with a low, accurate one-timer and then a shot to the top of the mitt side.
He then completed his hat trick at 8:38 of the second period. Dufour took advantage of his own comeback after rushing to the net.
The Cataractes took five minor penalties in a row in the second period and the Sea Dogs ended up making them pay for their indiscipline. Poirier gave the home favorites the lead at 14:12 on the power play with a long shot from the side of the shield.
« We had a good first period, but the penalties cut our pace, » said Cataracts forward Xavier Bourgault.
Dufour continued to torment Coulombe in the third period. He scored his fourth goal of the night 1:57 into the game, thanks to another shot from the side of the mitt.
« I didn’t pass too many, » said Dufour. I sent the puck to the net and everything came back.
Hurtubise and the Sea Dogs defense then managed to neutralize the Cataractes attack.
Hurtubise went there with some acrobatic maneuvers in the last moments of the match, after the Cataractes replaced Coulombe with an additional striker.