SASKATOON – Nathan MacKinnon had three goals and two assists Sunday as the Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 to win the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
MacKinnon’s performance earned him the Stafford Smythe Memorial trophy as the tournament’s most valuable player. He led the event with seven goals.
Fellow top prospect Jonathan Drouin assisted on five goals for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions, who captured their first Canadian Hockey League title.
Konrad Abeltshauser added two goals and an assist, while Martin Frk had a goal and two assists for Halifax, which got 40 saves from Zachary Fucale as a team from the QMJHL won the Memorial Cup for the third straight year.
Ty Rattie had a goal and three assists while Nicolas Petan added a goal and two assists for the Winterhawks. Seth Jones and Brendan Leipsic scored for Portland, while Mac Carruth made 35 stops for the Western Hockey League champions.
Leading 3-2 in the third, MacKinnon gave his team some breathing room at 7:36 with his tournament-leading sixth goal by chipping a puck past a fallen Carruth.
Abeltshauser then followed up on a MacKinnon rush to bury a rebound at 11:11 to make it 5-2.
Leipsic got one back for Portland at 14:32 and Rattie scored with 1:14 left to cut the deficit to one, but MacKinnon iced the game with 22.4 seconds remaining before the Mooseheads spilled onto to the ice to celebrate at the final buzzer.
Down 3-0 after a disastrous first period, the Winterhawks came out with renewed vigour in the second, outshooting the Mooseheads 18-6 and scoring twice.
Portland got its first while killing a penalty when Rattie jumped on a Halifax turnover in the Mooseheads end and fed Petan, who beat Fucale with a backhand move at 10:36.
The Winterhawks, who won the WHL title despite the season-long suspension of coach and general manager Mike Johnston for transgressions that included financial perks for players and their families, looked to have cut the deficit to one later in the period, but after a video review it was judged Rattie directed the puck into the net with his glove.
No review would be needed a few minutes later with the teams playing 4-on-4 when Jones, a defenceman who is the No. 1 ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting ahead of next June’s draft, roofed a shot on Fucale from in tight with 1:19 left in the period.
The Mooseheads, who lost just six games in the regular season and once in the playoffs as the CHL’s top-ranked team before earning a bye right to the final of this tournament, came out flying in the first period.
After Stephen MacAulay, Frk and MacKinnon couldn’t connect for Halifax on three glorious chances in front of Carruth, Abeltshauser got Halifax on the board at 6:31. The overage German defenceman, playing his final game for the Mooseheads, ripped a one-timer off a feed from Drouin from the point past a screened Carruth up high on the power play.
MacKinnon, who is second on the NHL’s Central Scouting list behind Jones, made it 2-0 just 89 seconds later, snapping a quick shot past Carruth from the slot. MacKinnon, a 17-year-old from Sidney Crosby’s hometown of Cole Harbour, N.S., also had a hat trick and an assist in Halifax’s 7-4 victory over Portland in the round robin.
The Mooseheads stretched their lead to three at 15:59 on a rocket of a one-timer from Frk off another feed from Drouin that beat a helpless Carruth upstairs. Drouin, who was named CHL player of the year on Saturday, is ranked No. 3 behind Jones and MacKinnon ahead of the draft.
Carruth, an emotional goalie who wears his heart on his sleeve, kept the score at 3-0 in the final minute of the period with two big saves, but Portland still found itself in a big hole before rallying in the second.
© The Canadian Press, 2013