Special teams figure to play a prominent role when the Hamilton Bulldogs and Shawinigan Cataractes face off Monday night in the Memorial Cup semifinal.
The Cataractes scored three power-play goals in a 3-2 win over the Bulldogs in the preliminary round last Thursday, including the winner by Olivier Nadeau with 12:54 remaining in regulation.
Shawinigan had seven opportunities with the man advantage in all while Hamilton was 1 for 4.
“We have to be more disciplined,” said Bulldogs coach Jay McKee. “They have a great power play and it ate us up a little bit. We have to make some adjustments there.
“Looking back on that game, it really could have gone either way. Both teams played very well.”
Cataractes captain Mavrik Bourque scored once and had two assists in the victory, but will be focused on the task at hand in Monday’s rematch at TD Station.
“We are going to play in the semifinal in the biggest junior tournament, so I don’t think we could ask for a better opportunity,” he said.
The host Saint John Sea Dogs await the winner on Wednesday evening.
Saint John advanced directly to the final with the top record among the four teams in the preliminary round. The Sea Dogs earned wins over Hamilton and Shawinigan and had an overtime loss to Edmonton.
Hamilton, meanwhile, opened the Ontario Hockey League playoffs with 12 consecutive wins and captured the OHL title in a seven-game final over the Windsor Spitfires.
However, they lost consecutive games to open the Memorial Cup before getting on track with a 4-2 victory over the Oil Kings last Friday. The Bulldogs needed to win in regulation to gain a semifinal berth.
A 40-save performance from goaltender Marco Costantini helped them advance.
“They have a lot of offence, they play fast and they like to blow the zone, so we are going to stay on the D-side and capitalize when we have some scoring chances,” said Shawinigan coach Daniel Nadeau. “They are a great team and it is going to be a great game.”
Logan Morrison leads the Bulldogs with six points – all assists – while Mason McTavish and Ryan Winterton have connected for three goals apiece in the tournament.
Bourque and Xavier Bourgault have paced Shawinigan’s attack with six points each.
“We have to watch where they are at all times on the ice,” said Bulldogs defenceman Gavin White. “They seem to find each other pretty well though the seams. As long as we have eyes on them, I think we can shut them down.”
Nadeau has scored three goals for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions, including two game-winners.