2023 Memorial Cup: 3 Takeaways From Remparts’ Win Over Blazers

The 2023 Memorial Cup kicked off on Friday Night with a blowout as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey (QMJHL) winners, the Québec Remparts, defeated the host Kamloops Blazers 8-3 inside a packed Sandman Center. In total, 10 Remparts recorded at least a point, while six players finished the night with multi-point games. In goal, Québec’s William Rousseau stood tall, stopping 27 of the 30 shots, while at the other end, Kamloops’ Dylan Ernst struggled, recording 25 saves on 33 shots. Here are three takeaways from the game.

James Malatesta Continues to Dominate

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect James Malatesta had a game to remember against Kamloops. Not only did he score the first goal of this year’s Memorial Cup, but he also finished the night with a hat trick and was named Player of the Game. The QMJHL’s playoff MVP has now scored in five of his past six games, and if his performance in Game 1 was any indication, he could threaten the all-time record for goals in a Memorial Cup tournament, which currently sits at eight.

James Malatesta Quebec Remparts
James Malatesta, Quebec Remparts (Candice Ward/CHL)

While Malatesta will get most of the glory, as he did score the hat trick, his linemates also deserve some credit for how they played. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Justin Robidas recorded three assists, while Mikael Huchette finished the game with two shots on goal and a plus/minus rating of plus-3. This trio was the Remparts’ best line throughout the playoffs and, once again, delivered in a big way to secure Québec’s first win of the tournament.

Quebec’s Special Teams Come Up Big

Throughout the season and playoffs, the Remparts’ penalty kill has been a key factor in their success. This was again true against the Blazers as they went 5-for-7 on the penalty kill while also recording a shorthanded goal midway through the third to kill any momentum Kamloops had built in an attempted comeback. While head coach Patrick Roy will not be thrilled they gave up multiple power-play goals, they were facing a group that scored the second-most power-play goals across the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) during the postseason, so limiting the Blazers to just two goals on seven attempts should be seen as an accomplishment.

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As for the Remparts’ power play, they only got one but made it count as Théo Rochette scored what would be the game-winner early in the second period. The Remparts also scored a shorthanded goal during the game, meaning they drew even with Kamloops when it comes to goals scored on special teams. If Québec is going to be successful throughout the tournament, they need to find more ways to get their power play out on the ice, as they showed in Game 1 how efficient they can be with the man advantage.

Logan Stankoven’s Strong Game In Front Of The Hometown Faithful

The good news for the Blazers is that one person showed up, and that was their captain Logan Stankoven. The Dallas Stars’ prospect finished the night with three assists and went 14 for 21 in the faceoff dot. He was also one of the few players on Kamloops that looked to be going from start to finish as he did everything he possibly could to drag his team back into the game after they allowed four straight during the second period.

Logan Stankoven Kamloops Blazers
Logan Stankoven, Kamloops Blazers (Candice Ward/CHL)

Stankoven is the heartbeat of this Blazers team and will need to continue to produce points if Kamloops want to advance past the round-robin stage. He also needs to ensure he gets more than two shots on net per game, as that is well below his average of 4.5 that he recorded during the postseason. There will be a ton of pressure on him over the next two games to deliver some incredible performances as he looks to bring the Memorial Cup back to Kamloops for the first time since 1995.

Not Much Time to Regroup

With Game 1 in the books, both teams don’t have much time to regroup and get ready for their next matchup. For the Blazers, they get a one-day rest before taking on the Peterborough Petes on May 28, while the Remparts get an extra day off before facing the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 29. Both games will be critical as a win for Québec would get them one step closer to a berth in the Final, while a loss for the Blazers would put them on the brink of elimination from the tournament.

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