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Shawinigan Off To Memorial Cup Title Game

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Yannick Veilleux's second goal of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup probably was the biggest goal he's ever scored.

Veilleux's deflection of Morgan Ellis' point shot at 13:14 of the third period snapped a 4-4 tie and propelled the Shawinigan Cataractes to a 7-4 victory over their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rivals the Saint John Sea Dogs, giving the host team a berth in the championship game Sunday against the London Knights.

Shawinigan is just the third team in tournament history to advance to the championship game after playing in the tiebreaker game, joining the 2002 Victoriaville Tigres and 2009 Windsor Spitfires. Only Windsor has won the tournament after playing in the tiebreaker game.

Shawinigan also is aiming to become the first host team to win the Memorial Cup since the Vancouver Giants in 2007.

Saint John, which won last year's Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Ont., was looking to become just the eighth team in the 94-year history of the Memorial Cup to win back-to-back titles.

The yellow-clad crowd of 4,763 that packed the Bionest Centre headed home in a festive mood, knowing their team already has beaten the Knights in the tournament -- a 6-2 victory last Sunday in preliminary-round play.

Michael Chaput, the tournament's scoring leader, had a pair of goals for the Cataractes, and Michael Bournival, Brandon Gormley, Loik Poudrier and Pierre-Olivier Morin also scored, while overage goaltender Gabriel Girard made 24 saves.

The high-powered Sea Dogs did not get enough from their big stars in this game.

Tomas Jurco had a pair of goals for Saint John. Jonathan Huberdeau and Zack Phillips also had goals, while goalie Mathieu Corbeil made 29 saves.

The teams met Wednesday in a nasty, physical affair that earned both teams fines from the Canadian Hockey League. This game began with the intensity one would expect.

Phillips got the Sea Dogs on the board at 4:29 of the first, taking a long pass from Canadiens prospect Nathan Beaulieu to go in one-on-one on Ellis, another Canadiens prospect. Phillips backed Ellis off with speed and took a wrist shot against the grain, barely eluding Ellis' block attempt and tucking it inside the far post behind Girard for his third of the tournament.

Bournival -- the third Habs prospect playing in this game -- tied it at 6:51 when he poked a puck free from behind the net and saw Corbeil knock it over the goal line. Gormley gave Shawinigan the lead by getting a wrist shot from the point through a crowd and past Corbeil at 9:24 of the first. The Cataractes had a man advantage as Sea Dogs forward Stanislav Galiev had gone to bench due to a cut.

The Sea Dogs tied the game when Jurco tipped a point shot past Girard for a power-play goal 12:35 to make it 2-2.

The four goals came on the first 13 shots of the game.

While the play in the first period largely was even, the Cataractes completely dominated the second. Shawinigan outshot Saint John 20-8 and appeared to have the puck constantly, but it went into the final 20 minutes up just a goal thanks to a lucky bounce for the Sea Dogs.

Poudrier gave Shawinigan the lead when a Maximillien Le Sieur centering pass went in off his skate at 9:14, and Chaput scored 1:25 later on the power play off a nice feed from Anton Zlobin -- his third assist of the game -- to put Shawinigan ahead 4-2 at 10:39.

After a Sea Dogs power play in which they were outshot 2-0, Phillips was sent off for high-sticking and the Cataractes had an opportunity to all but book a trip to the final right then and there. But an innocent-looking clearing attempt by Huberdeau from his own blue line bounced about 10 feet in front of Girard and took a funny hop, beating him clean to the glove side and giving the Sea Dogs life.

That goal loomed large in the third when Jurco scored his second of the game at 9:16, beating Girard with a wrist shot from the top of the circle after a Phillips faceoff win.

But that set the stage for Veilleux's winning goal with just 6:46 to play, enlivening the crowd.

Panthers prospect Jonathan Racine picked up two hits in the victory.

Huberdeau finished with the goal on three shots. The third pick overall in the 2011 NHL Draft finished with a team-high seven points in four games (5-2-7). His five goals tied with Chaput following the semi-final game with the Shawinigan forward posting that in one more game. Huberdeau picked up points in all four Saint John Games, including goals in each contest.

Author: Arpon Basu | Correspondent

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