Games like Sunday's are the reason the Shawinigan Cataractes wanted defenseman Brandon Gormley.
Gormley, the 13th pick of the 2010 Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, had two goals and an assist as Shawinigan, the host team at the 2012 Memorial Cup, gave the home fans at Bionest Centre something to cheer about with a 6-2 victory against the London Knights.
"We played a great game," Gormley said. "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."
Michael Chaput had a goal and two assists, Michael Bournival had a goal and an assist, and Pier-Olivier Morin and Loik Poudirer also had goals as the Cataractes made up for Friday's tournament-opening loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings, their first game in more than a month.
Gabriel Girard, in his first start of the tournament, made 24 saves on 26 shots. It was Shawinigan's first win since April 13, when they beat Chicoutimi in the quarterfinals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
"Thirty days without playing a hockey game … they did well [Friday] and it was important for us to build on that and that's exactly what we did," Shawinigan coach Eric Veilleux said. "We talked about it after Game 1 that we wanted and we needed to get better every game. I thought today we did. And now the message will be we need to be better the next game. I'm sure there are some areas we can be better."
Veilleux said there was obvious rust on his team after such a long layoff, but his team was faster and more aggressive on the forecheck Sunday, and said his team's puck possession was something he certainly liked.
"Puck management," he said when asked what the best part of his team's effort was. "That's what we talked about before the game, that's what we saw we needed to do yesterday watching them play and that's what we've done the best today."
"I thought they had a good forecheck going and played too much in our own zone," London coach Mark Hunter said. "We've got to get pucks deep and start cycling and I didn't think we did a good job of that."
Hunter said he thought playing 24 hours after an emotional game against the star-studded Sea Dogs left his team a bit low on energy.
"I thought we needed more energy in parts of the game," he said. "Second period we started to come around, started playing better. First [period] they had more energy, second we matched. There were some goals we tipped in. Turn the page and move on to the next game."
London captain Jarred Tinordi agreed.
"We were a little slow," he said. "We didn't have that push we had the other night. They capitalized on their scoring chances and we didn't do a good enough job of that."
Gormley was acquired by Shawinigan for a player and six draft picks Jan. 7, just days after he was voted the best defenseman at the 2012 World Junior Championship while helping Canada win the bronze medal.
After Anderson opened the scoring midway through the first, Gormley assisted on the tying goal with 3:37 left in the period. Shawinigan got nine shots on a two-minute, two-man advantage, but Houser stopped all of them. The Cataractes kept possession in the London end after the penalties ended and worked the puck to Gormley at the left point. He fired a shot on net that was re-directed by Bournival past London goalie Michael Houser.
"Their team does a great job blocking shots we knew we had our work cut out for us," Gormley said. "As a defenseman 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."
Then, 57 seconds into the second period, Gormley gave Shawinigan a lead it wouldn't relinquish when his low shot from the left point went off London's Olli Maatta and past Houser, who stopped 26 of 31 shots.
The Cataractes extended their lead to 3-1 when Poudrier scored shorthanded at 10:37 of the second. London, which gave up a pair of shorthanded goals in Saturday's win against Saint John, was sloppy in the offensive end, and Poudrier jumped on a loose puck and went end-to-end. He cut to the middle in the London zone, and using Maximilien Le Sieur as a screen, ripped a shot past Houser.
"We didn't work hard enough," London's Austin Watson said. "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."
The goal came just over a minute after Shawinigan had a goal waved off when Morin was ruled to have knocked in a puck with his glove.
Just 22 seconds after Poudrier's goal, London got to within 3-2 on Athanasiou's power-play goal. Athanasiou, a scratch Saturday, took a pass from Scott Harrington and snapped a shot from the left side that beat Girard to the short side, past his blocker, at 10:59.
Shawinigan extended its lead to two goals again when Morin scored a no-doubt-about-it goal at 3:20 of the third. London was pushing to tie the game early in the third when Jared Knight, a Boston Bruins prospect, rocketed a shot off the crossbar. The rebound went to Morin, who carried it into the London end and ripped a shot from the right side that went past Houser.
Gormley's second goal made it 5-2. With London's Max Domi in the penalty box for high-sticking, Shawinigan got the puck out high to Gormley, and his shot through traffic eluded Houser at 9:44.
Chaput added an empty-net goal, his third in two games, with 1:45 left.
Both teams now are 1-1 after two games each; London will play its final game of round-robin play Tuesday against Edmonton, while Shawinigan will play its final game Wednesday against Saint John.
Monday's game will see Edmonton, the Western Hockey League champion, face Saint John, the defending Memorial Cup and QMJHL champion that is the only winless team among the four in the tournament.
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