SAINT-JEAN, NB – William Dufour almost alone carried the Saint-Jean Sea Dogs to the Memorial Cup Finals.
Dufour scored four goals and the tournament hosts came from a three-goal deficit before beating the Shawinigan Cataractes 5-3 at TD Station on Saturday to wrap up the preliminary round.
The Sea Dogs (2-0-1-0) needed a regulation-time win to oust the Cataractes (2-0-0-1) at the top of the standings.
So, more than a month after Rimouski Océanic’s upset in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs that led to the firing of head coach Gordie Dwyer, the Sea Dogs play for the Canadian Hockey League title on Wednesday.
The Cataractes, champions of the QMJHL, play the Hamilton Bulldogs in Monday’s semifinals. The Mauricie team defeated the OHL champions 3-2 on Thursday.
Dufour was the star of the game. He fired 15 of 36 shots on goal, allowing the Sea Dogs to topple the Cataracts.
Jérémie Poirier also hit the target for the Sea Dogs, who are seeking a second Memorial Cup title. Nikolas Hurtubise stopped 26 shots.
Loris Rafanomezantsoa, Olivier Nadeau and William Veillette generated the Cataractes offensive. Antoine Coulombe made 31 saves.
In two times
The Cataractes quickly opened the scoring after 49 seconds of play when a Rafanomezantsoa shot skidded through traffic.
Both goalies made some good saves after that, but the Cataractes managed to close the gap before the end of the period.
Nadeau first deflected a shot from Zachary Massicotte in the top half with 5:27 left.
Veillette then beat Hurtubise with a good backhand shot by 43 seconds.
The tide turned quickly in the second period when Dufour rang the attack for the Sea Dogs.
Dufour initially scored two goals 21 seconds apart. He hit Coulombe with a low, accurate one-timer and then a shot to the top of the gauntlet side.
Last season’s QMJHL MVP wasn’t satisfied with that. Dufour completed his hat trick at 8:38 of the second period. He capitalized on his own comeback after going into the net.
The Cataractes conceded five straight second-half minor penalties, and the Sea Dogs finally made them pay for their indiscipline. Poirier gave the home favorites a 14-12 lead on the power play with a long shot from the side of the shield.
Dufour continued to torment Coulombe in the third period. He scored his fourth goal of the evening after 1:57 into the game thanks to another shot from the side of the glove.
Hurtubise and the Sea Dogs defense then managed to neutralize the Cataractes attack.
Hurtubise went there with some acrobatic maneuvers in the final moments of the game after the Cataractes replaced Coulombe with an extra striker.
Cataracts open the scoring after 49 seconds
Nadeau doubles the lead of the Cataractes
Not 1, not 2, but 3 to 0 for Shawinigan!
Dufour gives hope to the Sea Dogs
Attention, the Sea Dogs are back!
A spectacular comeback by William Dufour
Poirier puts the icing on the cake with a spectacular comeback!