The Peterborough Petes avoided elimination from the Memorial Cup playoff picture on Tuesday night by beating the Quebec Remparts 4-2 at the Sandman Centre.
The desperate Petes, who dropped their first two games of the four-team, 10-day tournament, scored twice in a span of 2½ minutes midway through the second period to break a scoreless deadlock, then traded goals the remainder of the way with the somewhat passive Remparts, who were already guaranteed a berth in Sunday’s championship game based on earlier wins over Seattle and Kamloops.
Tucker Robertson, J.R. Avon, Avery Hayes and Connor Lockhart scored for the Ontario Hockey League champion Petes, who will play on Thursday night against the loser of Wednesday’s game between the Western Hockey League champion Thunderbirds and host Blazers.
Brian Zanetti chipped in with two assists for the Petes, who took a 3-2 lead into the third period.
James Malatesta and Nathan Gaucher scored for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Remparts, who were outshot 36-28and didn’t play with the same urgency as they did in their first two games, perhaps not wanting to risk injury.
Remparts’ netminder William Rousseau, the team’s star in its 3-1 win against Seattle on Monday, was replaced early in the third period by Quentin Miller after allowing the fourth Peterborough goal at 3:37.
The Petes went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Remparts didn’t have a power play.
Robertson, named player of the game, said the Petes proved they’re a resilient group in the do-or-die contest.
“We have good work habits I think we’re the hardest working team here and we want to show it,” said the Petes’ assistant captain post-game.
“We had a players’ meeting following the Kamloops game (a 10-2 loss) and we were just saying how we didn’t want that to be our last game. We all love each other, this is the tightest team I’ve been on by far and we don’t want it to end this soon.”
Petes’ netminder Michael Simpson, who made 26 saves to keep his team alive, said: “The bigger the game the more I think I’m dialled in. I think we struck to our structure a lot better tonight. We played a full 60. It was do-or-die so we had to throw everything on the table.
“It’s funny, it feels like we’ve taken the hard, long every way in the playoffs, so at the Memorial Cup why not do it again? We want to lift that trophy and hopefully we get to play Quebec again on Sunday.”
The Remparts finish the preliminary round with a 2-1 record and won’t play again until Sunday’s final. The Thunderbirds and Blazers are both 1-1, while the Petes are 1-2.
The semi-final game to determine Quebec’s Sunday opponent is scheduled for Friday night.
The round-robin stage of the Memorial Cup wraps up Wednesday night with an all-WHL showdown. The Thunderbirds play the host Blazers, who lost a six-game series to the T-Birds in the Western Conference final earlier in the month. The winner earns a berth in Friday’s semi-final, while the loser will play the Petes on Thursday in a tiebreaker to determine the second semi-final team.