Quebec Remparts win 2023 Memorial Cup

The Quebec Remparts gather for a team photo after winning the 2023 Memorial Cup in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, June 4, 2023. Quebec blanked the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0 in the championship game. The Canadian Hockey League

The Memorial Cup is heading east.

At Kamloops, B.C., William Rousseau was unbeatable between the pipes as the Quebec Remparts blanked the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0-in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.

Rousseau finished with 32 saves in shutting down the stacked Western Hockey League champions, whose roster featured 10 NHL draft picks.

While Rousseau played well, it was Quebec’s strong structure on defence that determined Sunday’s final — Seattle had a hard time getting clean shots off.

“That was part of the plan when we started,” Patrick Roy, Quebec’s GM and head coach, said of his team’s defensive play. And when the Remparts weren’t defending, they quickly counter-attacked.

Quebec Remparts GM and head coach Patrick Roy hoists the Memorial Cup on Sunday in Kamloops, B.C. The Canadian Hockey League

“We didn’t want to be a defensive team, but we wanted to be a team that plays well defensively,” continued Roy. “That was the mindset we put in our guys.

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“They were phenomenal in that regard. The guys bought in to what we were trying to do and they were resilient all year. I’m extremely, extremely proud of this group.”

Vsevolod Komarov, James Malatesta, Kassim Gaudet, Zachary Bolduc and Charles Savoie scored for the QMJHL champions, which led 1-0 and 2-0 at the period breaks, then added three goals in the third.

Thomas Milic, who backstopped Canada to gold at the world juniors, stopped 30 of 35 shots for Seattle.

The Remparts were 1-for-6 on the power play while the T-Birds were 0-for-2.

During round-robin play, Quebec defeated Seattle 3-1 on May 29 despite being outshot 36-22.

Asked about his shutout, Rousseau said “the results were there, but it was a team effort at the end of the day. The two games against Seattle were great.”

Quebec also won the tournament in 2006, when it was played in Moncton.

Seattle entered Sunday’s final seeking its first Memorial Cup. The team also took part in the 2017 tournament, but went 0-3.

“I’m extremely proud of the group; what an unbelievable bunch of players,” said T-Birds head coach Matt O’Dette.

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“Every guy battled extremely hard to get here. They battled right to the end. It wasn’t our best game and I can’t say enough about the character in the (dressing) room.”

Quebec had an early 2-on-0 four minutes into the game, but flubbed it, with Milic easily poking away the loose puck from atop his crease.

However, two minutes later, at 6:34, they made no mistakes on a 2-on-1, with Komarov roofing the crossing pass.

With 2:22 left in the period, Seatle was handed a double minor for high sticking. Quebec had a couple of good looks during the first two minutes, but the second half of the double minor was erased when Malatesta took a penalty for cross-checking just before the first period ended.

At 8:50, Quebec made it 2-0, Malatesta from the slot on a three-on-two following a nice centering pass. Malatesta’s marker came against the run of play, with Seattle controlling the action.

Quebec could have went up 3-0 midway through the second, as the T-Birds were tagged with a high sticking penalty at 12:03, then a delay of game minor at 13:32.

However, the Remparts failed to cash in during their 31-second five-on-three, with Seattle then successfully killing the remainder of the penalty, though captain Theo Rochette did ring a shot off the crossbar.

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In the third, Seattle, still down 2-0, began pressing but had few clean looks at Quebec’s net. The Remparts would counter punch at times, but play mostly took part in Quebec’s zone.

Then, with 7:39 remaining and Seattle on a power play, the Remparts sealed the game with a 2-on-1, Gaudet scoring the shorthanded marker.

With the game out of hand, Zachary Bolduc made it 4-0 at 15:56, with Charles Savoie rounding out the scoring at 17:55.

“They played really well; they’re a great team,” O’Dette said of the Remparts. “I don’t want to take anything away from them.

“They deserved to win today. They had a great tournament, a great season. Would we like to have a seven-game series? Sure. But that’s not the format; it’s tournament style and they earned the Memorial Cup.”

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