The all-QMJHL matchup between league champion Shawinigan and host city Saint John was a rollercoaster ride with the winner heading to the Memorial Cup final.
With the elimination of the Edmonton Oil Kings the day before, neither of the QMJHL combatants would be heading home with a loss. The Shawinigan Cataractes took a quick three-goal lead in the first period before the Saint John Sea Dogs came roaring back in period two with a four-goal frame before adding an insurance marker early in the third period and holding on to take the victory.
It was the first loss for Shawinigan at the Memorial Cup and sets up a semifinal between the Cataractes and the Hamilton Bulldogs, with both teams looking to avenge losses to the host team. It’s difficult to beat any team twice in the same tournament but it will be exactly what the hots Sea Dogs will be looking to do.
First Star: RW William Dufour, Saint John Sea Dogs
William Du-Four-Goals! (Sorry, not sorry). If it wasn't for Dufour's heroics, the Sea Dogs would have been in a much different spot, and it definitely didn't look like it was going to go their way early. The QMJHL MVP scored twice in the first three minutes of the period and then again before the nine-minute mark to get the Sea Dogs tied at three. Adding the insurance goal in the opening minutes of the third period, Dufour had a game to remember and was undoubtedly the most lethal player on the ice in this one.
This could very well be the defining moment for the Sea Dogs in their run to win the Memorial Cup. The New York Islanders’ prospect’s effort hasn't been matched this year, and if the Sea Dogs win it all, expect Dufour to be a factor.
Second Star: G Nikolas Hurtubise, Saint John Sea Dogs
Hurtubise’s ability to bounce back and lock things down after a terrible first period was key in Saint John's comeback effort. He only faced 14 shots through the final two frames, but there was no room for error at that point. Whether it was a sprawling stretched-out save in the first period, limiting the Cataractes to just three goals, or being an overall steady presence and eating pucks up rather than allowing a juicy rebound in the third period, the 5-foot-10 netminder utilized his athleticism every chance he got.
The 20-year-old Hurtubise is likely looking at the last shot at hockey glory at the CHL level and the poise shown in this game was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Third Star: D Jérémie Poirier, Saint John Sea Dogs
This game was a perfect example of what Poirier can do when given the freedom to get moving and push the pace. When Saint John went down after the first period, Dufour led the way up front but it was the offensive pace-setter Poirier who drove the bus from the back end. The Calgary Flames’ third-round pick thrived in a game that had to be more open.
Poirier finished the game with a goal and an assist, with his absolute bomb of a shot resulting in the game-winning goal, helping cap a wild four-goal second period. Poirier was effective in moving to puck from his own end up to the neutral zone, either via pass or with the puck on his own stick. The 20-year-old left-shot defender plays with confidence when he is at his best and is unafraid to make a mistake. He understood that in the situation that the Sea Dogs found themselves in, he needed to push offensively and take a couple of risks. He did so and found himself rewarded for it.