The Québec Remparts are Memorial Cup Final bound after defeating the Seattle Thunderbirds 3-1 during round-robin play. Despite each team having one more game, the Remparts hold the tiebreaker over the Thunderbirds and Kamloops Blazers, therefore gaining an automatic berth into this year’s Final. Here are three takeaways from the game.
William Rousseau Turns Into a Brick Wall
For just the sixth time all season, a team held the Thunderbirds to one goal or fewer, as goaltender William Rousseau stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced in Québec’s win. He has now stopped 62 of the 64 shots he has faced through two games and leads the tournament in saves, save percentage, goals-against average and wins. While he wasn’t named the Player of the Game, he was phenomenal from start to finish holding Seattle scoreless for the first 57 minutes before Nolan Allan finally scored on their 36th and final shot of the game.
While Rousseau played one of his best games of the season, credit should also go to his teammates for the defence they played throughout the game. They killed off Seattle’s two power plays, holding them to just three shots and were able to limit the Thunderbirds’ second-chance opportunities by collecting rebounds and boxing out well in front of the net. Despite allowing 36 shots, it was a strong performance by the entire team and one head coach Patrick Roy should be proud of.
Théo Rochette Steps Up Again
Throughout the postseason, Théo Rochette has continued to step up for the Remparts and did so once again against Seattle. Not only did he score on Québec’s second shot of the game, but he also added a second late in the third, which would stand as the game-winner. Not only does he lead the Remparts in scoring, but he is also the only player in the tournament with two game-winning goals, as he also scored the game-winner against the Blazers in the tournament opener.
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As the captain of Québec, Rochette has done everything in his power to get his team to this point. He finished second on the Remparts in the playoffs with 21 points in 18 games and has continued that strong play into the Memorial Cup tournament, where he has scored on 50% of the shots he has taken. With Québec guaranteed a spot in the Final, they will once again be looking to their captain for a big performance in what will be his final game as a Canadian Hockey League (CHL) player.
Seattle’s Offence Can’t Break Through
This loss puts the Thunderbirds in a difficult situation heading into their game against the Blazers. Despite being the better team offensively, they could not capitalize, as the Remparts did a great job of blocking shots and limiting scoring chances. They also have now gone zero for four on the power play and have not looked dangerous throughout the tournament, which is a massive red flag heading into their game against the Blazers and beyond.
While they have only played two games, there are some concerning trends that have popped up from an offensive perspective. Dylan Guenther has only scored in two of his past nine games going back to the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs, while Brad Lambert has scored in just two of his past 11 games. While it is great to see players like Allan and Kyle Crnkovic score, Seattle needs their big guns to start producing. They came into this tournament as the favourites to win the Memorial Cup but may not even make it to the Final if their stars can’t find the back of the net.
Quick Turnaround for the Remparts
Québec will not have a ton of time to celebrate their victory as they get right back at it on May 30 against the Peterborough Petes. While the game’s outcome may not have much bearing on the Remparts, a loss to the Petes would cause a tie-breaker game to be played. If this happens, the opponent for Peterborough would be the loser of the Thunderbirds vs Blazers game on May 31. There is still a ton to play for as the Memorial Cup tournament round-robin finishes up and the single-elimination portion of the event starts.