The drought is over: After 53 years without the President’s Cup, the Shawinigan Cataractes are the champions of the QMJHL and will represent the Quebec Circuit in the Memorial Cup tournament.
Pierrick Dubé scored the decisive goal just 41 seconds after overtime and guided the Cataractes to a 4-3 win over the Charlottetown Islanders. The Cataractes won the finals series 4 to 1.
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“Everyone says it every year: It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Cats head coach Daniel Renaud on the ice, seconds after lifting the trophy for the first time in his career. The truth is that for these players it is the fulfillment of their lives. Winning a championship is a lifelong dream. You grow up hoping to experience this once in your life, today.
General Manager Martin Mondou also cheered after the game.
“I’m very happy for everyone, for the Shawi and Mauricie people who have supported us. […] We had goals when we got to Shawi and now we have a Memorial Cup and a President’s Cup. I’m really proud for everyone.”
The Cataracts were true to themselves today. The Islanders took a 3-1 lead in the second period; They seemed to have the encounter completely under control. However, Daniel Renaud’s men organized another comeback, which began with an Olivier Nadeau goal on the power play late in the second period. Then Pierrick Dubé took matters into his own hands. The 20-year-old veteran equalized midway through the third game before scoring the decisive goal in extra time.
“I don’t even have words. It’s hard work all season. We’ve been battling COVID for three years to have great championships and be able to play great seasons. To end my junior career in style and have a chance to go to Memorial Riding the Cup, what more could you ask for? I don’t know yet, but it’s definitely one of the best moments of my hockey life.”
In overtime, Dubé took Patrick Guay’s puck before escaping and defeating Francesco Lapenna with a precise shot.
“I remember the sequence, but after that I don’t remember. I did not know, what I should do !”
Bourque player par excellence
Unsurprisingly, Mavrik Bourque received the Guy Lafleur Trophy, awarded to the most valuable playoff player. The Dallas Stars contender scored his team’s first goal in the first period this morning. He finished the playoffs with 25 points in 16 games.
“He is an exceptional player who will leave his mark again [Anthony] Beauvillier, [Samuel] Girard who visited us. We’ve had a lot of good players and guys growing up and having the chance to end your junior career with a championship, I think that’s the best ending you can hope for for your junior internship.” Martin Mondou, the Bourque on the third overall in the 2018 QMJHL draft.
“I’m speechless,” added the Cataracts captain. I was afraid. On the other hand, it’s a good team. At 3-1 you start thinking in your head. We finished third, we had chances to score and we converted them. In overtime it went into the pocket.
The Cataractes are now preparing for the Memorial Cup tournament, which will be held June 20-29 in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Daniel Renaud’s lesson in adversity
On February 9, 2020, the Shawinigan Cataractes fired Daniel Renaud. Today, just over two and a half years later, he lifted the President’s Cup with the same formation.
No doubt many raised eyebrows earlier in the season when general manager Martin Mondou announced he was bringing Renaud back.
Proud of his shot
The latter had just lost in the final with the Val-d’Or Foreurs to the Victoriaville Tigres, despite a star team, and some wondered if he was the one who could lead the Cataractes to the promised land.
“I knew what I was doing and so did Dan. Today we have the result of that and I’m happy with it,” said Mondou after the win.
Today, in the euphoria of victory, Renaud has agreed to talk a little about this February 2020 episode.
“If I don’t get fired, I’m not going to win with the Cataracts today. One grows from adversity. My greatest adversity in life was that dismissal and today it’s easy to say but I thank Martin and the group for making it possible. It made me grow like I could never have grown. I studied in Val-d’Or and questioned myself. You always have a choice to roll up your sleeves or point the finger at everyone when something bad happens to you. Today we live it together.”
“He brought us together”
Following the win, Renaud and Mavrik Bourque shared a moment. They exchanged a few words before hugging for several seconds.
“You want to know what I told him?” Bourque asked us when we told him about that moment.
“I told him I still remember the date he was fired. He came back and today, two and a half years later, we are champions. If Dan hadn’t been there, we would never have been champions. He was able to bond us together and we can see it, we’re a team, friends. Thanks in part to Dan. »
Striker Xavier Bourgault also had only good words for his head coach.
“He is a coach who has really helped me. He’s a guy who is close to his players and has spent a lot of time with me making videos. It hurt me a lot when he got fired and we still stayed in touch. I was very happy when he came back and I had faith in him.”
It was a fourth career final for Renaud, who had lost after the first three: as head coach of the Val-d’Or Foreurs last year; previously as an assistant with the Quebec Remparts in 2015 and with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2012.