The Quebec Remparts scored three goals in four-and-a-half minutes early in the second period to snap a 1-1 deadlock and then coasted to an 8-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers in the first game of the 2023 Memorial Cup Championship tournament.
James Malatesta scored three times and Kassim Gaudet added a pair for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions.
The Remparts showcased their speed, depth and goaltending against the host Blazers, who were playing their first game since May 8 when they were eliminated by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference final.
Nathan Gaucher, Theo Rochette and Zachary Bolduc also scored for the Remparts, who led 5-2 heading into the final period. Justin Robidas chipped in with three assists, while Pier-Olivier Roy added two helpers.
Caedan Bankier, Daylan Kuefler and Matthew Seminoff scored for the Blazers, who were outshot 33-30. Logan Stankoven had three assists for the Blazers.
Robidas said his teammates were “a little bit nervous” at the beginning of the game, but felt they relaxed in the second and became more confident as the game progressed.
“In the first period they (Blazers) came out strong and we weren’t necessarily ready for that. In the second we settled down the crowd a little bit, got the momentum and we went from there.”
Gaucher said he was thrilled with the final result but was quick to remind reporters there’s a lot of heavy lifting left in the four-team tourney.
“We’re not here to only win the first game, we’re here to win the whole tournament, but it’s a good start for us,” said Gaucher. “They (Blazers) hadn’t played for 18 days so we expected them to start fast. But we had a stronger finish.”
The Remparts went 1-for-1 on the power play, while the Blazers were 1-for-7.
POKE CHECKS: The WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds play Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes on Saturday (6 p.m. ET), while the Blazers will try to rebound against the Petes on Sunday (6 p.m., ET).