There was a party atmosphere at the Bionest Centre with the Shawinigan Cataractes making merry with a goal-scoring spree against the usually stingy London Knights.
Defenceman Brandon Gormley scored twice and added an assist as the Cataractes got their first win of the MasterCard Memorial Cup in a 6-2 romp before a standing room only crowd of 4,674 on Sunday night.
It was a game where everything went right for the home team. Point shots got through the traffic and pucks were deflected past beleaguered London goaltender Michael Houser.
But the Cataractes also skated hard and earned the win by outworking the Ontario Hockey League champions. They got pucks in and kept most of the play in the London zone.
“We played a great game,” said Gormley. “They’re a skilled team and we knew we had to play a great game.
“We have great fans here and we wanted to get them rocking as soon as we can and build off that.”
The host Cataractes (1-1) were coming off a loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the opener of the four-team tournament. The Knights (1-1) had upset the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs on Saturday night.
The Sea Dogs face Edmonton on Monday night in the second game for both teams.
Michael Bournival and Pierre Olivier Morin also scored while Loik Poudrier chipped in a short-handed goal and Michael Chaput got one shorthanded for Shawinigan.
Josh Anderson and Andreas Athanasiou replied for the Knights, who were outshot 33-26.
“We were a little slow,” said Knights captain Jarred Tinordi. “We didn’t have that push we had the other right. They capitalized on their scoring chances and we didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
London had the tables turned on their effort against Saint John. This time it was Shawinigan with the greater work rate and which forced the bulk of the turnovers.
The Cataractes stormed out from the opening faceoff, checking hard and using turnovers to outshoot London 14-6 in the opening period.
But the Knights got the first goal as Anderson got his stick on a harmless-looking point shot from Tommy Hughes at 10:47.
London captain Jarred Tinordi was a wall in helping kill a two-man advantage, but the players were out of the box for only 21 seconds when Shawinigan tied it as Bournival deflected a Gormley point shot at 16:23.
A Gormley blast from the point gave the home side the lead only 57 seconds into the second period and Poudrier made it 3-1 when he scored at 10:37 on a shot off a short-handed rush that went in off Vladislav Namestnikov’s stick.
It was the third short-handed goal London allowed in two games and is a matter they will look to correct when they face Edmonton on Tuesday.
The Knights got that one right back 22 seconds later when Athanasiou beat Girard from the left side.
London’s Jared Knight hit a goalpost and on the counterattack, Morin scored as he cut to the middle and put a wrist shot to the top corner 3:20 into the third. Then Gormley added a power-play goal from the point at 9:44 and the roar in the arena reached deafening levels.
“Their team does a great job blocking shots we knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Gormley, who didn’t win a game in his last visit to the Memorial Cup with Moncton two years ago. “As a defenceman your job is to get pucks to the net and try to create offence for the forwards.
“And they did a great job of getting traffic in front.”
The Knights felt playing on consecutive nights was not a factor, but there was a letdown after knocking off the Sea Dogs the night before.
“We didn’t work hard enough,” said veteran Austin Watson. “They outworked us for most of the game. We had good spurts, but every time we’d get chances, we’d give them right back.”
Shawinigan coach Eric Veilleux opted to change goaltenders after their opening game loss, replacing Alex Dubeau with the more experienced Gabriel Girard.
The Cataractes had one lineup change, taking forward Mitchell Maynard out and inserting Felix-Antoine Bergeron, while London replaced Brett Welychka with Athanasiou.
Notes: Saint John coach Gerard Gallant was fined $500 for slamming the refs after a loss Saturday to London. . . Canadiens scouting head Trevor Timmins spoke to reporters before the game, an event in itself as former general manager Pierre Gauthier had a gag order on all Montreal staff. He’s excited about the NHL draft. “We’re going to get a good player at No. 3, for sure. Whether he steps in and plays in the NHL next season is up to the player,” he said. “It’s a draft year when all 30 teams are going to have different top-10 lists. There’s no set order amongst scouts. It’s going to be fun and exciting for the fans to watch the draft because, who’s No. 1? Nobody knows except the team that’s drafting.”
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