Voltigeurs 3 Spitfires 2 (OT)
RIMOUSKI, Que. — With their most dangerous offensive threat sidelined with an injury, little-used Maxime Frenette became the unlikely hero for the Drummondville Voltigeurs.
The 18-year-old from Boisbriand, Que. was only in the lineup because star forward Chris DiDomenico was injured, but he backhanded in the game-winner 8:56 into overtime to lift the Voltigeurs to a 3-2 victory over the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
”I think that’s the goal of my life,” said Frenette
The goal settled a thrilling, tightly contested battle between the champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League in the opening round robin game for both clubs.
The Spitfires are back on the ice to play the 0-1 Rimouski Oceanic on today (Rogers Sportsnet, 2:30 p.m.), while Drummondville meets the 1-0 Kelowna Rockets on Monday. Kelowna downed Rimouski 4-1 in the tournament opener on Friday.
Frenette was worried his hockey career may be over this season when he developed chest pains. At first, doctors feared a heart condition, but then it was found to be a virus that would go away on it’s own in time.
”I was panicking a bit because they told me it would be six months or more that I couldn’t play, but when I got the green light I was so happy,” said Frenette, who nonetheless lost a month of playing time.
”Since my virus, I had trouble coming back, so in the playoffs, I was the 13th forward and I wasn’t playing much, but after DiDomenico got injured, I got back on the ice and it was great.”
Frenette, playing in only his fifth game since the league playoffs began two months ago, started the game as an extra forward without a set line, but late in the game, coach Guy Boucher used him more and it paid off.
Philippe Lefebvre, who forced overtime with a goal at 14:07 of the third frame, put a pass to the point to Patrik Prokop, whose shot went off a skate in front right to Frenette on the right side. His high backhander into an open side left no chance for goalie Andrew Engelage.
”Chris DiDomenico was our best player the last two months, so Frenette would not have played, or maybe once in a while,” said Boucher, who lost the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect to a broken thigh in the Quebec league playoffs. ”He was playing before the heart problem though.
”He’s a great kid. He’s skinny, but he has character.”
And he also scored an overtime goal in last season’s playoff against Gatineau.
Gabriel Dumont had the other goal for Drummondville, while Adam Henrique had both Windsor goals.
Spitfires coach Bob Boughner did not like that his club was hemmed in its zone in the opening minutes of the game and that it was outplayed in stretches throughout the contest.
”Maybe it was butterflies or nerves,” said Boughner. ”We turned the puck over too many times and didn’t get it in deep.
”And we had some guys we need a lot more from. It’s disappointing. Some of our guys had below average games.”
Taylor Hall, the 17-year-old prodigy some say will be drafted No. 1 overall in 2010, was eye-catching throughout the game, although he didn’t get any points. But his linemates Greg Nemisz and Andrei Loktionov were less visible.
Neither team’s top stars figured in the scoring, despite the quick pace and high number of chances at both ends. Windsor had a 35-33 edge in shots.