THUNDER BAY – The Magog Cantonniers are starting to look like one of the teams to beat at the 2019 TELUS Cup.
With a killer power-play, plenty of speed and a knack for the net – not to mention the stellar goaltending of Olivier Adam and a coaching staff led by former NHL goaltender Felix Potvin, the Quebec representatives on Tuesday became the first team to two wins at the national midget hockey championship, thanks to a 3-1 win over the Halifax Macs.
The Cantonniers scored twice with the man advantage and had a third power-play tally waved off en route to the win, continuing their quest to improve on last year’s silver medal performance at the TELUS Cup in Sudbury.
Forward Alexandre Doucet said the team likes where it’s sitting two days into the week-long tournament, being contested at Fort William Gardens.
“For sure it’s good. We know we need to have a lot of wins at the beginning to be in a great place for the (playoffs),” said Doucet, a top-line forward from St-Denis-de-Brompton, Que who finished with a goal and an assist on Tuesday, factoring on every Magog goal.
Coming off a 6-0 triumph over the Tisdale Trojans, Doucet said the team knew they’d face tougher battles as the tournament progressed.
The Macs, on the other hand, showed their opening 2-1 win over Toronto wasn’t a fluke, supressing Magog’s high-powered offence for most of the afternoon contest – at least while the two sides were playing five-on-five hockey.
Doucet said they didn’t flinch when Halifax’s Ian Watt connected with the man advantage nine minutes into the opening period, tying the game 1-1 after Isaac Belliveau opened the scoring for the Cantonniers just 92 seconds into the game.
“We needed to the goal behind us and just focus on what’s was going to come,” he said, happy to contribute to the triumph.
“But I think everyone’s playing well, so it’s good.”
Potvin, who will be cheering for his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they take on Boston in Game 7 of the NHL’s opening round of the playoffs, said his Cantonniers have to adjust to each and every team.
A 6-0 steamroll isn’t in the cards each night, he said.
“There are six good teams and we know they’re not (all) going to be easy teams. They won their game yesterday, we won ours, so it was important for both teams to win today,” Potvin said. “Now we’ve got two wins, but it’s far from over. We’ve got to win our next game tomorrow.”
Halifax coach Tim Boyce said he was happy his underdog team proved it could stick with a powerful Magog team.
“I thought we did a pretty good job five-on-five of containing them. We kept a lot of it to the perimeter, for the most part, but their power play is exceptional. They’ve got some guys who can move the puck around, highly skilled. It’s probably the best power play we’ve seen all year and obviously they burned us a couple of times with it,” Boyce said.
The Macs switched to Jacob Goobie between the pipes. He made 32 saves, but couldn’t help out much in the other end, where Halifax managed just two shots in the final 20 minutes, trying to climb out of a two-goal hole. Adam made 27 saves for Magog.
Justin Robdias had the Cantonnier’s third goal, scoring at 14:08 of the second, cutting across the middle and firing a wrist shot past Goobie on a delayed penalty call.
Halifax takes on Tisdale on Wednesday afternoon, while Magog looks to remain undefeated against Calgary in a possible preview of Sunday’s championship finale.
Toronto 3, Calgary 1: Peter Stojcevski, Nathan Kellenberger and Nolan Lowe each scored to help the Young Nationals even their record at one win and one loss. Justin Ross had the lone goal for Calgary, who earned its first loss of the tournament. Sean Wu made 32 saves for Toronto.
Scoring: 1. Magog, Belliveau (Roy, Doucet) 1:32 pp. 2. Halifax, Watt (Carruthers, MacDonald) 8:47. Penalties: King HFX (interference) 0:26, Ross HFX (hooking 3:23, Robidas MAG (slashing) 7:49, Comeau HFX (boarding) 19:38.
Scoring: 3. Magog, Doucet 2 (Roy, Belliveau) 0:35 pp. 4, Magog, Robidas (Dion) 14:08. Penalties: Welsh HFX (misconduct) 14:08, Belliveau MAG (cross checking) 15:34, Cournouyer MAG (holding) 17:51.
Scoring: None. Penalties: McLeod HFX (slashing) 18:52.
GAME DATA – SOG – Magog 13-10-12-35, Halifax 13-16-2-28; Power plays (goals-chances) – Magog (2-3), Halifax (1-4); Goaltenders – Magog: Olivier Adam, Halifax: Jacob Goobie; A: 500 (estimated).