After being overlooked by NHL teams for two straight years, Moncton Wildcats goaltender Nicola Riopel produced a season for the ages.
Riopel finished his record-breaking season with a solid 25-save performance as the Wildcats defeated the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 3-1 on Sunday in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Riopel's 2.01 goals-against average beat Patrick Couture's record of 2.09, set in 1997-98. It's also a vast improvement over last season, when Riopel allowed over three goals per game.
The undrafted, unsigned 19-year-old netminder played a large role in Moncton's stellar season. A year after missing the playoffs, the Wildcats (48-14-2-4) finished with the third-best record in the league thanks to their amazing defensive numbers. Moncton allowed the fewest goals (149) in QMJHL history, 15 less than the previous record holder - the 2003-04 Screaming Eagles.
The Wildcats will face the P.E.I. Rocket in the first round of the playoffs, while Cape Breton (46-18-3-1) will take on the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Elsewhere in the QMJHL, it was: Montreal 12, Val-d'Or 1; Rimouski 5, Shawinigan 4 (OT); Chicoutimi 3, Lewiston 2 (SO); Drummondville 4, Baie-Comeau 3; Gatineau 4, Rouyn-Noranda 2; Halifax 6, Acadie-Bathurst 3; P.E.I. 5, Saint John 2; and Victoriaville 6, Quebec 2.
At Moncton, Randy Cameron had a goal and an assist, while Matt Eagles and Mark Barberio also scored for the Wildcats.
Marco Desveaux scored for the Screaming Eagles, who got 27 stops from backup goaltender Christopher Holden.
Junior 12, Foreurs 1
At Montreal, Louis-Marc Aubry scored four goals and added an assist as the Junior capped off their season by scoring a franchise-record 12 goals against Val-d'Or.
Dmitri Kostromitin had a goal and three assists, Philippe Fontaine, Matthew Brenton and Pier-Antoine Dion all had a goal and two assists, Matt Fillier and Jeremy Gouchie had a goal and an assist each, while Samuel Grenache and Nick Layton rounded out the scoring for Montreal (34-30-2-2). T.J. Brennan and Guillaume Asselin both added three assists.
Matthew Lachaine scored the lone goal for the Foreurs (19-41-3-5), who failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Oceanic 5, Cataractes 4 (OT)
At Shawinigan, Que., Luca Cunti scored the overtime winner to complete his second straight hat-trick as Rimouski edged the Cataractes.
Felix Lefrancois had a goal and two assists and Jordan Caron also scored for the Oceanic (44-23-1-0), who finished the season by winning 20 of their last 21 games. Caron's goal extended his season-ending point streak to 17 games.
Nicholas Petersen scored twice for Shawinigan (51-14-3-0), while Gabriel Lemieux and Matthew Pistilli also scored.
Sagueneens 3, Maineiacs 2 (SO)
At Lewiston, Maine, Jacob Lagace scored the only goal of the shootout as Chicoutimi outlasted the Maineiacs.
Lagace also had an assist in regulation for the Sagueneens (24-32-4-8), while Nicolas Deschamps and Mathieu Tousignant added goals.
Samuel Finn and Billy Lacasse replied in the third period to tie the game for Lewiston (22-43-1-2). Alexander Beaton assisted on both goals.
Voltigeurs 4, Drakkar 3
At Drummondville, Que., Gabriel Dumont scored with less than three minutes remaining in the third period to help the Voltigeurs end their remarkable season on a winning note against Baie-Comeau.
Dany Masse had a goal and two assists, Mike Hoffman had a goal (his 52nd of the season) and an assist and Christopher DiDomenico also scored for Drummondville (54-10-0-4), which went from a finishing in last place in 2007-08 to capturing the regular-season title this season.
Jordan Bernier scored a pair and Guillaume Langelier-Parent added another for the Drakkar (22-37-7-2).
Olympiques 4, Huskies 2
At Gatineau, Que., Tye McGinn's two third-period goals gave the Olympiques enough breathing room to fend of a late rally attempt by Rouyn-Noranda.
Maxime Mallette and Vincent Barnard also scored for Gatineau (38-25-2-3), which led 4-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Benoit Gervais and Jean-Sebastien Berube both scored for the Huskies (30-30-5-3) in the final two minutes of the third.
Mooseheads 6, Titan 3
At Halifax, Jan Stransky had a goal and three assists as the Mooseheads ended their season on a positive note by doubling up on struggling Acadie-Bathurst.
Justin Pender had a goal and an assist, while Gabriel Desjardins, Gabriel O'Connor, Ned O'Brien and Eric Louis-Seize also scored for Halifax (19-41-3-5). Yuri Cheremetiev added three assists.
Eric Faille had a goal and two assists for the Titan (20-35-7-6), who finished the season on a 13-game losing skid. Artem Demkov and Spencer Jezegou had a goal and an assist each.
Rocket 5, Sea Dogs 2
At Charlottetown, Jason Legault scored twice as the Rocket soared over Saint John.
Chris Doyle had a goal and an assist and Jarrad Struthers and Christopher Guay added goals for P.E.I. (26-32-5-5).
Nicholas Pard and Benjamin Lecomte replied for the Sea Dogs (34-30-2-2).
Tigres 6, Remparts 2
At Victoriaville, Que., David Cliche had a five point game with three goals and two assists as the Tigres mauled Quebec.
Joel Chouinard had a goal and two assists while Andrej Nestrasil and Philip-Michael Devos also scored for Victoriaville (32-32-2-2).
Mikhail Stefanovich scored both goals for the Remparts (49-16-0-3) to bring his season total to 49 goals, the third-highest in the league.