SAINT JOHN, NB - The Edmonton Oil Kings dropped the first game of their Memorial Cup round robin after a 4-3 come-from-behind win by the Shawinigan Cataractes on Tuesday night.
"I thought we started alright, but we had a bit of a lapse in the latter half of the first period. Got something going there at the end," Oil Kings Head Coach Brad Laurer said. "It didn't seem like we were very connected 5-on-5. We're a better team than what we showed tonight. It's one of those learning thing, I think guys were a bit nervous, but at the end of the day I didn't think we were good enough."
Edmonton Oilers first-round pick Xavier Bourgault continued his strong post-season for the Cataractes, scoring a second-period goal and assisting on Pierrick Dube's third period equalizer. The 22nd pick in 2021 NHL Entry Draft had scored 12 goals and 10 assists in 16 playoff games prior to his two-point effort on Tuesday. Bourgault was noticeable nearly every time he was on the ice and was named the game's first star for his dynamic performance.
Despite a 3-2 third-period lead courtesy goals by Luke Prokop, Tyler Horstmann, and Cole Miller, the Oil Kings weren't able to hold on against a buzzing Shawinigan side. Dallas Stars prospect Mavrik Bourque was able to out-muscle Kaiden Guhle behind the net and slide the puck to Olivier Nadeau, who hammered a shot past a sprawling Sebastian Cossa for the game-winner. The Oil Kings goalie and Detroit Red Wings 2021 first-round pick turned away 31 of 35 shots in the defeat.
The Cataractes opened the scoring on the power play halfway through the first period off the stick of defenceman Jordan Tourigny. After Oil Kings defender Carson Golder was ejected from the game and assessed a five-minute major penalty for bodying Maximilien Ledoux into the boards from behind, Shawinigan's 17-year-old defenceman took advantage of the space and ripped a shot by Cossa.
Edmonton was able to tie the game late in the period courtesy the stick of Prokop, who knuckled a shot past Charles-Antoine Lavallee with 44 seconds remaining in the frame. The Oil Kings and Catractes traded goals just three minutes apart in the second with Horstmann and Bourgault doing the damage for their repsective clubs.
Miller gave the Oil Kings a 3-2 lead heading in to the final frame, but a 15-shot third period with goals by Dube and Nadeau gave the Cataractes the opening-game victory.
"We're usually good in the third (period)," Coach Laurer said. "We said all the right things between the second. Unfortunately, we had a lapse for three minutes and they got the momentum and we started chasing it."
"The adjustments we made in the third," Shawinigan Head Coach Ron Choules said about the momentum swing. "We put pucks behind their D and made them turn. I think our top guys were the better players again."
(Photos courtesy Vincent Ethier)
The Oil Kings sit third in the Memorial Cup standings after the first round of games -- leading the Hamilton Bulldogs by goal differential due to their 5-3 loss to the Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday. Edmonton will look to get back on track tomorrow night when they take on the tournament host Sea Dogs at 4:00pm MT.
"I don't think we played a very good game at all. We weren't structured. We weren't doing the things that we're capable of doing that we did all playoffs long," Prokop said about the loss. "It's a quick turnaround, another game tomorrow. We have to reset and get ready for that."