The Quebec Remparts left no doubt on Sunday.
In a rematch that followed some questioning if it could come away with the same result, Quebec put a bow on a dominant year with one of its finest performances of the major junior hockey season.
William Rousseau had the tournament’s first shutout with 32 saves and the Remparts defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0 to claim the Memorial Cup title. Quebec also defeated Seattle 3-1 in the round-robin stage on Monday.
“I think after the first game a lot of people were doubting us, maybe saying, ‘Oh, they got lucky,”’ Remparts forward and tournament MVP James Malatesta said. “We didn’t play as good as we wanted to, but I think tonight our defence showed up, offence showed up.
“All around, I think we played one of our best games of the year. I think it speaks to the group of guys we got, we always believe in ourselves and we would never get scared of any opponent.”
Head coach and managing director Patrick Roy — who had Gatorade dumped on him during the on-ice celebrations, which also included Justin Robidas and Nathan Gaucher doing the Griddy dance — shared a similar sentiment on his team’s performance.
“I thought we played our best game of the Memorial Cup,” Roy said. “I was a bit nervous, I won’t lie, before the game started.
“I was impressed to see how the guys were jumping and focused, controlling their emotions and physically involved. That was so nice to see and I was really proud of our group for what they’ve done tonight.”
Vsevolod Komarov, Kassim Gaudet, Malatesta, Zachary Bolduc and Charles Savoie scored for Quebec, which won its third title in franchise history and first since 2006.
The Remparts had won the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular-season and post-season crowns leading up to the Memorial Cup.
“I couldn’t ask for a better last three seasons,” Bolduc said. “We have a special group here and we achieved all the goals we want, we got the three trophies we wanted.
“We’re very happy.”
Malatesta — who was tied for first in the tournament with five goals — said fans in Quebec City should be ready to celebrate, when asked about those that gathered for an outdoor watch party.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I hope everybody back home is ready to party because we’re gonna get our party on, that’s for sure, when we’re back.”
Malatesta, Rousseau, Remparts forward Theo Rochette, Seattle forward Kyle Crnkovic, Seattle defenceman Nolan Allan and Kamloops Blazers defenceman Olen Zellweger were named to the tournament all-star team.
Thomas Milic stopped 30 shots for the Western Hockey League champion Seattle, which played in its first-ever tournament final Sunday.
“Extremely proud of the group,” Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette said. “Every guy battled extremely hard to get here, battled right to the end.
“Obviously wasn’t our best game but I can’t say enough about the character in that room and the leadership that we have in there. It stings that we didn’t get this done, but I think there’s a lot to be proud of when the dust settles.”
Asked of the emotions behind such a loss with a tight-knit group, Seattle captain Lucas Ciona was candid in his response.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” Ciona said. “We know we’re champions in our league and won that, but you come here, you lose here when you made it so far.
“There’s worse feelings but it’s, I don’t know what word to say. It’s just terrible, it sucks, you work so hard for it, you love these guys so it sucks.”
Komarov opened the scoring 6:31 into the first period. Gaudet drove into Seattle’s zone on a 2-on-1 break and found Komarov with a cross-ice pass for the goal.
Malatesta doubled Quebec’s lead 8:50 into the second. His goal tied him with Crnkovic for the tournament lead.
Gaudet stretched the Remparts’ lead with a short-handed goal 12:21 into the third. Robidas sent a cross-ice pass to Gaudet on a 2-on-1 break and he beat Milic.
Bolduc made it 4-0 with 4:04 remaining in the contest on a one-timer off a Jeremy Langlois pass.
Savoie scored with 2:05 left when he took a drop pass from Rochette and wired it past Milic.
When the Remparts last won the Memorial Cup, Roy became the seventh coach to win the event in his rookie year behind the bench. He was also the first to do so since Claude Julien accomplished the feat with the Hull Olympiques in 1997.
Roy had coached Quebec from 2006-2013 before taking a job with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche for three seasons. He returned to the Remparts in 2018 and has been at the helm since.
It is the Thunderbirds’ first appearance at the tournament since 2017, and first with O’Dette. The Toronto native took the job following the 2016-17 season when the team won its first WHL title and made its second appearance at the Memorial Cup.