Huskies 5 Wheat Kings 3
The Brandon Wheat Kings found themselves in a hole early in their MasterCard Memorial Cup opening game.
Despite furious pressure and many chances in the third period, they couldn’t climb out of it.
Five Rouyn-Noranda Huskies goals in the first and second period, two from Timo Meier, were enough for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Champions to win, 5-3 over the Wheat Kings at the Centrium on Saturday.
“We knew they were going to come out hard,” said Meier. “We want to match that intensity and we’re a team that can play physical as well.”
Huskies head coach Gilles Bouchard was happy with his team’s play in the first and second periods, but felt his team let the foot off the gas in the third period. With a sense of urgency, the Wheat Kings outshot the Huskies 20-4 in the third period.
“We played with the score,” said Bouchard. “It was 5-1 after the second period and we stopped skating. Our mindset was not good and we have to be ready for tomorrow.”
Testing Huskies goalie Chase Marchand early, the Wheat Kings peppered him with shots and chances as several rebounds fell into opportunistic spots for the Wheaties. Three minutes into the first period Reid Duke scored on a pass from James Shearer. Shearer had picked up the puck on a rebound off of Marchand and sent it through the crease to a waiting Duke. 1-0 Wheat Kings.
“I think I was playing a bit too aggressive and I made a small adjustment to stay cool in the net and not overplay,” said Marchand.
Two of the Huskies three first period goals came from bad bounces for the Wheat Kings about a minute apart. A bounce off a body in front of Wheaties netminder Jordan Papirny landed behind him and across the goal-line. Gabriel Fontaine was given credit for the goal.
Not long after Allan Caron passed the puck off the end boards to Meier, who was positioned at the side of the net. With Papirny on the other post, he scored the Huskies’ third goal.
Two more goals in the second gave the Huskies a comfortable third period lead.
Tyler Coulter banged home a rebound to try to spark a comeback in the third period, but the Wheat Kings would only get one more goal in the game.
In only the second game of the tournament, Quenneville’s goal (Brandon’s third) midway through the third period is in the running for prettiest in this year’s Memorial Cup. It will be tough to beat.
Quenneville found an opening in the Huskies defence midway through the third period. Skating near the Huskies blueline he took a long pass from Provorov, who was standing behind his own net. Quenneville had room and after deking out Marchand he put his stick between his legs and went top shelf, beating the sprawling Rouyn-Noranda goalie. The goal cut the Huskies lead to 5-3.
“When I got the puck their goalie started to back up in the net and I had a lot of space in front of me to move the puck,” said Quenneville.
He said he last used the move when he was 12-year-old, and it worked then as well.
“It’s nice to get the win, I’m not too worried about the goal,” said Marchand.
Wheat Kings head coach Kelly McCrimmon pointed to the four straight penalties his team took from late in the first period until early in the third that gave the Huskies power play the chance to work. The Huskies went 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
“If you’re going to have a first period that doesn’t go well, then you’re final 40 minutes have to be flawless,” said McCrimmon. “We weren’t fast enough and we weren’t where we needed to be in a tournament playing against good teams.”
Rouyn-Noranda joins the London Knights as the two one-win teams through the first two games, while the Wheat Kings and Rebels sit with one loss each.
The Huskies are right back on the ice Sunday evening as they face the host Red Deer Rebels. Puck drops at the Centrium at 5 p.m.
“We know they’re going to come out really hard,” said Meier. “They lost the first game and obviously they want to bounce back.”
Advocate three stars:
1 — Huskies RW Timo Meier: Two goals and some hard work in front of the net led the Huskies offensive attack.
2 — Wheat Kings C John Quenneville: One goal for the Wheat Kings forward, but it was a beauty that will make many highlight reels. He also had a good chance for a second goal on the night in the third.
3 — Huskies G Chase Marchand: Stopped 38 of 41 shots and made key saves when he had to. Despite a great play from Quenneville, Marchand held the Wheat Kings at bay in a pressure filled third period where his team was outshot 20-4.