After an emotional win over the Saint John Sea Dogs, the London Knights fell to the host team Shawinigan Cataractes by a score of 6-2 Sunday night. The Knights played their second game in as many days and were pounced on early by the Cataractes being outshot 9-3 in the first nine minutes of play. With the Cataractes win, the Sea Dogs remain the only winless team, as they enter a pivotal second game Monday night against the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings.
Despite being outshot and outplayed in the first half of the game, the Knights still managed to score first when Josh Anderson redirected a shot from teammate Tommy Hughes 10:47 into the first period. The Cataractes would get their chance to tie the game, however, as Knights’ players Brett Cook and Kevin Raine each took minor penalties at 14:10 into the first, giving the Cataractes a full two minute two-man advantage. The Cataractes were unable to beat the undrafted Knights goalie, Michael Houser, and let a huge chance slip away from them. Thankfully, for the Cataractes, Montreal Canadiens prospect Michaël Bournival helped salvage momentum when he redirected Phoenix draft pick Brandon Gormley’s shot from the point just seconds after the penalties had expired, tying the game 1-1 16:23 into the first. The Knights would get their own two-man advantage, but just like the Cataractes failed to capitalize, causing the game to remain tied until the start of the second.
It wouldn’t take long for the third goal of the game to be scored as Gormley collected his second goal of the tournament just fifty-seven seconds into the second period, putting his team ahead 2-1 and giving the Cataractes their first lead of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. After back and forth play seeing both teams with tremendous scoring chances, the Knights would get their fourth power play of the game when St. Louis Blues draft pick, Yannick Veilleux, took a two minute minor for boarding 10:02 into the period. The Knights power play struggle continued as they allowed their third shorthanded goal of the tournament when Cataractes forward, Loik Poudrier, came streaking down the right wing and fired a wrist shot top shelf at 10:37 of the second, increasing his team’s lead to 3-1. Andreas Athanasiou helped redeem the Knights, by cutting the deficit back down to one just 22 seconds later on the same power play. The game remained 3-2 to end the second period, but it was clear the Cataractes’ shorthanded goal signaled a turning point in the game giving them the confidence and momentum to hold onto the lead.
The Cataractes would do just that and more as they added three goals in the third en route to their decisive 6-2 victory. Pierre-Olivier Morin opened the third period scoring 3:20 into the third with an unassisted goal, his first of the tournament. Gormely would add to the Cataractes’ lead by netting his second of the game and third of the tournament on a power play at 9:44 of the third with a blistering slapshot. The sixth and final goal came off the stick of Michael Chaput when he sealed the deal with an empty netter at 18:15 of the third, officially signaling triumph over the OHL Champs.
“You can't give up 15, 20 grade A chances and expect House to stop them all,” Knights forward Austin Watson told sportsnet.ca regarding the uncharacteristic six goals allowed. “He's been great for us all year, but at some point we have to help him out a little bit.”
The story line of the third and perhaps the game isn’t the impressive three unanswered goals scored by the Cataractes, but rather the twelve penalties handed out in the last thirty-three seconds of play. After an NHL worthy tilt between Vincent Arseneau of the Cataractes and Cook of the Kings 4:08 into the third, it was clear tensions were boiling over; tensions which came to a forefront at the end of the game. After a Knights defenseman intentionally fired the puck at a forward of the Cataractes, emotions ran high causing an altercation to erupt in front of the Knights’ bench. In the midst of the mess that ensued, two players on the Knights’ bench managed to get punches in on an unsuspected Shawinigan player, causing the game to be characterized by headlines that read “ugly ending”.
Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Racine was right in the middle of things to end the game, not backing down from anyone and protecting his teammates. After picking up a roughing penalty, Racine finished the game with four penalty minutes, two hits, and a plus-1 to add to his already strong showing in the tournament.