It was a tough start for the hosts of the 2012 Mastercard Memorial Cup as the Shawinigan Cataractes fell to the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings 4-3 Friday night as the game kicked off action of the weeklong tournament. Although it’s hard to believe that the Panthers prospect Jonathan Racine and the Cataractes were playing their first game in over a month after being knocked out in the QMJHL playoffs by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in a Game 7 of the conference semi-finals by the way they played Friday.
Using the home crowd to their advantage, the Cataractes came out of the gates with tons of energy and kept their game simple to begin the first period, playing a north-south hockey game and throwing everything they could at Oil Kings’ netminder, Laurent Brossoit (drafted 164th overall by Calgary in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft), posting 14 shots on net in the first 20 minutes.
The Oil Kings’ Kristians Pelss actually opened the scoring 2:41 into the first period off of a feed from line-mate Michael St. Croix. Just six minutes later, however, the Catractes embraced their role as the comeback Cats when Michael Chaput scored his first of two on the night on a power play to knot it up at one.
The game then witnessed a standstill in the second period as both teams fought for every inch of ice, leading to a scrap between Cataractes’ Dillon Donnelly and Oil Kings’ Mitchell Moroz 7:08 into the second period.
Entering the final twenty minutes of regulation, it seemed as if the next goal would be enough to gain the two points, but soft ice and unwise turnovers opened up the game and set the tone for a wild third period. The Oil Kings’ Martin Gernat expanded their lead by two, after his teammate, Griffin Reinhart, had made it 2-1 just 1:01 into the third period.
The host team appeared out of it as their constant crashing of the net didn’t surmount to anything in particular, until an overruled on ice call cut the deficit to just one 6;37 into the period and 57 seconds following Gernat’s goal. There, Anton Zlobin crashed the net hard, following up on an initial shot by Loik Poudrier, pushing the puck just far enough to cross the goal line. After verification that the puck did in fact cross the goal line entirely it was ruled a good goal.
The Cataractes tied it off an Oil Kings’ defensive blemish as Chaput rifled a shot past Brossoit with 6:41 to play. The Oil Kings’ Henrik Samuelsson blasted a one timer past 17 year-old goalie, Alex Dubeau, to put the Oil Kings back in the lead for good just 23 seconds later. The winning goal came on an unfortunate defensive mishap as Racine broke his stick trying to stop the Oil Kings from entering the zone cleanly and his teammates were unable to clear the puck, leaving them outmanned.
"I don’t think we were being cute," defenseman Morgan Ellis told Sportsnet.ca when asked about the turnovers. “"It wasn’t a case of being soft, it was just one of those instances where you don’t happen to get the puck out and it ends up in the back of your net."
Racine played a simple and steady defensive game playing alongside Ellis (117th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft), finishing the game with two hits, four penalty minutes, and a minus-1.