Rebels Stymied By Hot Goalie, Season Ends
Huskies 3 Rebels 1
Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies goaltender Chase Marchand carried a hot hand in Friday’s Memorial Cup semifinal and in the process pretty much carried his team to a 3-1 victory over the host Red Deer Rebels.
The Huskies will meet the OHL champion London Knights in the championship final set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Rebels, as was the case in their 5-2 round-robin win over the Quebec champs, fell behind 2-0 in the first period.
For the most part, Red Deer was the better team the rest of the way but could sneak just one puck past Marchand, who finished with 36 saves — including 25 over the final 40 minutes — before 7,562 fans at the Centrium.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the first period that put us behind,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“But we didn’t quit, we kept battling. We had some great opportunities, some quality scoring chances, and I thought their goalie was the best player on the ice tonight.”
Francis Perron gave the Huskies a lead they never relinquished when he took a cross-ice pass from Timo Meier during a power play and ripped a one-timer past goalie Rylan Toth 10:51 into the contest.
Martins Dzierkals made it 2-0 for Rouyn-Noranda exactly five minutes later, working out of the corner and into the low slot and connecting on a backhand. The puck appeared to strike a stick or a skate in front, giving Toth no chance for a save.
“Kind of the same thing happened in the first game against them — we spotted them two quick goals and we couldn’t bounce back this time,” said Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury.
“We had scoring chances and the shots on goal to do that, the bounces just weren’t going our way tonight.”
The Rebels were outshot 15-11 in the opening frame but had their own scoring opportunities as Marchand robbed Josh Mahura early with a glove save down low and captain Luke Philp broke in alone only to lose control of the puck.
Toth came up with a big stop on Meier early in the second period and shortly after Nikolas Brouillard scored the Huskies’ third goal with Mahura serving an interference penalty. The Rouyn-Noranda rearguard moved in from the point and blew a slapshot past a screened Toth.
Philp finally got Red Deer on the board at 13:24, connecting from the side of the net with the hosts on the power play.
It was all Marchand after that. Among his 11 third-period saves were two huge stops on Adam Musil while the Rebels were short-handed.
“Personally, I felt the bounces went my way and the team played well in front of me,” said Marchand. “Combined, it made for a good game.
“I was seeing the puck because the players did a good job of backchecking, blocking shots and blocking out as well. It was easy for me because of them.”
“We came out strong in the third and their goalie stood on his head,” said Rebels forward Adam Helewka. “We had our chances, we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”
“It’s a short-term tournament, you can run into a hot goalie any time,” added Fleury. “Hats off to him, he played unbelievable tonight. Some of the saves he made in the third period gave his team a little confidence to keep playing their game.”
Toth, while not as busy as his counterpart while facing 27 shots, was no slouch either. He made a pad stop on Dzierkals and denied Julien Nantel on a short breakaway in the second half of the final period to keep the deficit at two.
“We are very happy the way we played today against Red Deer,” said a relieved Huskies GM/head coach Gilles Bouchard, whose club was 1-2 during the round-robin. “We wanted to be better game after game and the guys work hard today.
“Red Deer is big guys and they work very hard, so we show a lot of character today.”
The Rebels, who had just one sub-par showing in the tournament — a 6-2 loss to the Knights one week previous — certainly never lacked in the character department.
“I was proud of our players,” said Sutter. “I said today that I don’t think any of you (media) guys thought with us being hosts and losing out in the (WHL) semifinals that we could play against these top teams.
“We deserved to be in this semifinal tonight. We had a 2-1(round-robin) record and we played with this team tonight.”
The Huskies were two-for-four on the power play and killed two of three Red Deer man-advantage opportunities.
“In a tournament like this special teams are very big, but we still want to get better on the (penalty kill) because against London that’s going to be huge,” said Meier, whose club fell 5-2 to the Knights in the round-robin.
“We are very excited to get a rematch with them.”
- The game marked the end of the WHL careers of Helewka, Philp and defenceman Kayle Doetzel. “They’re all good people, “ said Sutter, reflecting on the trio of overage players. “Doetz has been here since he was a 16-year-old and developed into a very solid defenceman for us, one of our top-pairing guys. He’s a first-class individual, very respected in the room and very team-orientated. We acquired Luke and Adam at the trade deadline to add skill to our team and they certainly won us some games. To a man, they take the game seriously and want to be players. Hopefully, moving forward it can work out for all three of them” . . . Sutter also expressed his gratitude to everyone — including the media — who have helped make the tournament a resounding success. “It’s disappointing from a hockey perspective, but the teams here were top-notch teams,” he stated. “Right from our own organization through the people who co-chaired the event, co-chaired the volunteers . . . all the volunteer committees, they did an outstanding job and will continue to do the next couple of days. From myself, I’m proud of the way this all worked out. It’s been a first-class event and that’s a credit to everyone involved.”