HALIFAX — The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have won their first Memorial Cup.
Peter Abbandonato scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period as Rouyn-Noranda beat the Halifax Mooseheads 4-2 on Sunday to capture the biggest trophy in major junior hockey.
Felix Bibeau, Joel Teasdale and Vincent Marleau also scored for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Huskies. Samuel Harvey stopped 23 shots.
Teasdale was named the tournament’s most valuable player after the game.
Samuel Asselin and Raphael Lavoie found the back of the net for the Mooseheads. Alexis Gravel made 31 saves.
Rouyn-Noranda, which entered the league in 1996, and Halifax played each other eight times in May following a hard-fought QMJHL final. The Huskies beat the Mooseheads in six games to win the President’s Cup and then put up a 4-3 victory against Halifax in the round-robin portion of the tournament before meeting again in the final.
It was just the second time two teams from the QMJHL met in the final, with the Quebec Remparts beating the Moncton Wildcats in 2006.
Chants of “Go Moose Go” from the sold-out crowd were in full force before the puck was dropped, with 10,595 fans packed into the Scotiabank Centre for the last Canadian Hockey League game of the season.
The first 10 minutes seemed like a feeling-out period for both teams, despite the familiarity, with a lot of dump-and-chase and no scoring chances.
Jared McIsaac nearly opened the scoring 13 minutes in for the Moose, but his point shot hit the post and stayed out.
Gravel wasn’t tested much in the opening frame but came up big twice against on Rafael Harvey-Pinard, first with a blocker save from the slot with three minutes to go and again on a breakaway in the final minute.
The breakaway save proved to be huge when Asselin found himself alone to put back a rebound with 44 seconds to go for the game’s first goal and a 1-0 lead entering intermission.
Gravel was solid again early in the second on a Mooseheads penalty kill, and again his team rewarded him by going down the ice on the next shift and doubling their lead.
Lavoie got in alone from the Rouyn-Noranda blue line after a turnover at centre and beat Harvey with a forehand deke at 5:26 before crashing into the endboards in celebration.
Bibeau finally put the Huskies on the board at 10:27 of the second while playing 4-on-4 when he went top shelf on Gravel from the slot after getting the puck from Harvey-Pinard.
Bibeau’s tournament-leading fifth goal seemed to spark Rouyn-Noranda as the Huskies controlled much of the play after that.
Teasdale tied the game at 15:11 with a wraparound that fooled Gravel, who was on the opposite side of the net expecting the puck to be cleared by his defenceman.
Teasdale nearly gave his club the lead on his next shift only to be turned away on a breakaway by the Mooseheads netminder, sending into the final period of the junior hockey season tied 2-2.
Abbandonato made no mistake to give his team its first lead of the night, cutting into the slot and scoring at the 3:02 mark.
Marleau made it a 4-2 game at 5:03 when he spun around in the slot and beat a sprawled-out Gravel.
The Mooseheads pulled Gravel with two minutes to play, but couldn’t get the two goals they needed and had to watch the Huskies celebrate a championship on their home ice for the second time in less than three weeks.
— Follow @KyleCicerella on Twitter
Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press