SASKATOON — Bo Horvat scored on a short-handed penalty shot in the first period and Jake Patterson made 32 saves Thursday as the London Knights defeated the host Saskatoon Blades 6-1 in the tiebreaker game at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
London will now take on the Portland Winterhawks in Friday’s semifinal, while Saskatoon’s up-and-down season came to a disappointing end.
The winner of the Portland-Saskatoon game will earn a berth in Sunday’s Canadian Hockey League title game against the Halifax Mooseheads.
Chris Tierney, with a goal and an assist, Seth Griffith, Ryan Rupert, Kyle Platzer and Nikita Zadorov had the other goals for the Ontario Hockey League champions, who also defeated Saskatoon 3-2 in the tournament opener.
Alex Broadhurst added two assists, while Horvat chipped in with one of his own.
Patterson, who was pulled after allowing five goals in the first period of Tuesday’s 9-2 round-robin loss to Halifax, was rarely tested by a sluggish Blades team that was playing their second game in as many nights.
Nathan Burns scored for Saskatoon, which got 31 saves from Andrey Makarov in front of 7,895 at the Credit Union Centre before being replaced by Alex Moodie after the sixth London goal.
Moodie finished with three stops
Leading 1-0 after Horvat’s penalty shot goal in the first, the Knights pulled away with two quick strikes during a 49-second span in the second. Griffith walked around Saskatoon’s Collin Valcourt on a power play and roofed a shot past Makarov at 11:28 before Max Domi fed Tierney for a one-timer at 12:17
The Blades had a golden opportunity to get on the board earlier in the period when London’s Paxton Leroux took a four-minute penalty for checking from behind. But Saskatoon registered just one shot on the lifeless man advantage, a weak effort from Lukas Sutter, while the Knights had three quality scoring chances.
The Knights then put the game to bed early in the third. Rupert scored on a feed from in close from Tierny at 2:16, Platzer made it 5-0 just 37 seconds later and Zadorov stretched the lead to six at 3:22.
Burns broke Patterson’s shutout bid on a nice backhand move at 11:20 for Saskatoon’s only highlight on a otherwise dismal night for the tournament hosts.
The Blades got an early power play in the opening period, but it was the Knights who struck first. After Saskatoon forward Josh Nicholls brought Horvat down on a short-handed breakaway, the No. 15 ranked North American skater ahead of next month’s NHL draft beat Makarov with a penalty shot effort that just dribbled over the goal-line.
Darren Dietz had a good chance to tie the score before the period was out but the pinching Blades defenceman saw his stick break as he moved in on Patterson.
London had a power play late in the period with plenty of puck possession in the Saskatoon zone but couldn’t capitalize. The best chance was Griffith’s shot off the post with just over a minute to play that stayed out.
The veteran Blades roster that includes 18 players in their 19-year-old or overage season played its last game together in a trying campaign that included an 18-game winning streak, a stunning first-round exit in the Western Hockey League playoffs and reality show television crew that followed their every move.
Notes: Portland beat London 6-3 in the round robin. … Prior to Thursday’s game, the CHL suspended Blades defenceman Dalton Thrower for the rest of the Memorial Cup for his hit to the head on Winterhawks forward Taylor Leier in Wednesday’s final round-robin game. Portland coach Travis Green says it’s unlikely that Leier, who is suffering from post-concussion symptoms, will play again in the tournament. … Only two teams that have played in a tiebreaker game at the Memorial Cup have gone on to hoist the trophy — the 2009 Windsor Spitfires and last year’s Shawinigan Cataractes.