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Meier providing spark to Rouyn-Noranda after trade

Sharks prospect scores twice in Huskies' Memorial Cup opener

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

RED DEER, Alberta -- Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Timo Meier suspected he might be traded while with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in January.

Selected by the San Jose Sharks in the first round (No. 9) of 2015 NHL Draft, Meier, 20, was a star player on a struggling team as his junior career was winding down. The native of Herisau, Switzerland played two-and-a-half seasons with Halifax before being acquired by Rouyn-Noranda prior to the QMJHL trade deadline. The Jan. 6 trade, which sent three draft picks to Halifax, paid dividends when the Huskies won the QMJHL championship.

Meier continued to contribute at the Memorial Cup, scoring two goals for Rouyn-Noranda in a 5-3 win against the Western Hockey League champion Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday.

"It's obviously part of the business, and for me, after the first half of the year with Halifax, you kind of hear some rumors and you start to think about it," Meier said. "But you try not to let it affect your game. Once it happened, I was happy to get to a team like this and have some success with them."

Meier had 44 goals and 90 points in 61 games in his draft year. This season, he combined for 34 goals and 87 points in 52 games between Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda.

"It took me some time to adjust to a new team, but it was great how they welcomed me," Meier said. "They were such a tight group already and it was awesome to be part of a group like that, they made it easy for me."

Prior to the trade, Rouyn-Noranda was one of the top-ranked teams in the Canadian Hockey League. Adding Meier reinforced the Huskies' intentions of challenging for a league title and a Memorial Cup championship.

"Going there, you don't want to upset the chemistry the team already has," Meier said. "You want to be a good teammate, you want to help your team and you want to be the best player for the team. You just have to keep it simple in the beginning and find some chemistry with the guys and from there, play your game."

Meier scored with 24 seconds remaining in the first period Saturday to give Rouyn-Noranda a 3-1 lead. He took a rebound off the end boards and shot the puck past goaltender Jordan Papirny.

He scored again in the second period to put Rouyn-Noranda ahead 5-1, beating Papirny from the left faceoff circle. Brandon scored two third-period goals, including an outstanding through-the-legs shot by center John Quenneville on a breakaway to cut into the Huskies' lead.

"He's a very important player for us, for sure," Rouyn-Noranda coach Gilles Bouchard said of Meier. "He brings a lot of speed, he's strong physically, he's good with puck protection and he has a good shot, so he's tough play against. We're very happy we were able to get Timo Meier before the trade deadline."

Rouyn-Noranda finished the 2015-16 QMJHL regular season with the best record (54-9-5) and were the top seed in the playoffs. The Huskies lost four games in the playoffs on their way to winning the President Cup as QMJHL champions for the first time since relocating to Rouyn-Noranda in 1996 from Montreal. Meier had 11 goals and 23 points in 18 playoff games.

"In the playoffs he struggled a little bit with his consistency, but he's not perfect, he still has a lot to learn, which is fine," Bouchard said. "He scored two big goals for us [Saturday] and he's well appreciated by his teammates. He's a very good player for our team."

Rouyn-Noranda plays the host Red Deer Rebels on Sunday in the second game of the tournament for each team. Red Deer lost the opening game 6-2 to the Ontario Hockey League champion London Knights on Friday.

"You obviously always want to get the first win," Meier said. "I think we did a good job, for the most part, although we let down a little bit in the third period. It didn't cost us the game, but we definitely have to be better than that. We know in our next game [Red Deer] is going to come out really hard. They lost their first game and they obviously want to bounce back. For us, it's about getting ready and preparation is going to be huge."

MEMORIAL CUP OF JOE

What we learned: Rouyn-Noranda can play a physical game when required. The highest-scoring team in the QMJHL this season with 302 goals won more physical battles than Brandon and built a 5-1 lead after two periods to put the game out of reach before conceding two goals in the third.

Key moment: Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Allan Caron takes a shot from the right faceoff circle that goes wide, but bounces off the end boards and out the other side to Meier, who scores to put the Huskies ahead 3-1 with 24 seconds left in the first period.

Player of the game: Meier. Scored two goals and had five shots on goal for Rouyn-Noranda.

Quotable: "We weren't fast enough and our discipline wasn't where it needed to be to win in a tournament playing against a good team like we were tonight. I was encouraged with our third period, that we played harder, but it was unfortunate we didn't have that earlier in the game." -- Brandon coach Kelly McCrimmon

Sunday: Red Deer vs. Rouyn-Noranda (7 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, TVA Sports 2; 8 p.m. tape delay, NHL Network)

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