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Quebec opens Memorial Cup by edging Kelowna

by Staff /

Vladimir Tkachev, a prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, had two assists to help the host Quebec Remparts to a 4-3 win against the Kelowna Rockets in the opening game of the Memorial Cup, played at Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City, Quebec.

Defensemen Nikolas Brouillard, Matt Murphy and Ryan Graves (New York Rangers) and forward Adam Erne (Tampa Bay Lightning) scored for the Remparts. Goaltender Zachary Fucale (Montreal Canadiens) made 25 saves.

The game was Quebec's first since a double-overtime loss at home in Game 7 of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final to the Rimouski Oceanic on May 18.

"We have a good group and they bounced back well," Quebec coach Philippe Boucher said, according to Canadian Press.

Nicholas Merkley, No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2015 draft, had a goal and an assist for Kelowna, the Western Hockey League champions. Gage Quinney and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) also scored for Kelowna. Goaltender Jackson Whistle made 27 saves.

The Remparts led 2-1 after two periods and extended their lead when Graves scored shorthanded 2:08 into the third period. Massimo Carozza tipped a puck away from Rockets captain Madison Bowey (Washington Capitals) at the Remparts blue line and Anthony Duclair (Arizona Coyotes) beat Merkley to the loose puck in the Rockets zone. Whistle stopped Duclair's shot but Graves was there to score on the rebound.

Quinney tipped a point shot by Joshua Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets) for a power-play goal at 12:43 of the third that got the Rockets back within one goal, but Erne's empty-net goal restored the Remparts' two-goal lead.

Kelowna had one more chance, when Brouillard and Duclair were called for roughing at 19:14 and Draisaitl scored a 6-on-3 power-play goal with 36 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to one goal but the Rockets couldn't get the equalizer.

"We haven't won anything," Fucale said. "We've only got one in the books. We can't be satisfied with one win. We have to wake up and start all over again."

Rockets coach Dan Lambert said part of his disappointment with the loss was the 10 penalties his team took, which resulted in five power plays for the Remparts.

"Our focus and execution weren’t where they need to be at this time of year," he said.

Among the penalties was a 10-minute misconduct assessed to Draisaitl at the end of the second period.

"You can’t take those penalties and that’s on me as well," Draisaitl said. "... We have to be more disciplined."

Tkachev helped Quebec take a 2-0 lead. The 19-year-old, who is No. 159 on Central Scouting's final ranking, got the puck to Brouillard who one-timed a slap shot from the top of the right circle past Whistle 5:18 into the first period.

At 13:22 of the second Tkachev set up Murphy for a shot from the point that Whistle never saw because of a Duclair screen in front.

Merkley's shorthanded goal at 17:56 of the second got the Rockets within 2-1. Cole Linaker won a race for the puck in the Remparts end and set up Merkley with a pass through the slot for a shot that Fucale got a piece of but couldn't stop.

The tournament continues Saturday with a game between the Oshawa Generals, champions of the Ontario Hockey League, and Rimouski. Quebec plays Oshawa on Sunday; Kelowna is off until it plays Rimouski on Monday.

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