A day before the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins get it on in game one of the Stanley Cup Final, the hockey world was focused on Bratislava, Slovakia for the final of the IIHF World Championship and the final of the Memoria Cup in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The gold medal game for the World Championship ended in an upset as Finland defeated Canada 3-1 to claim the gold. It was the second time Finland claimed victory over Canada in this tournament.
The first prime scoring chance of the game went to the Finns as, at 5:28 of the first period, Canada’s Thomas Chabot was called for a trip and Finland was awarded a penalty shot. They did not convert on Canadian goaltender Matt Murray.
The Canadians then took the lead about five minutes later, at 10:02, when Shea Theodore scored what would be Canada’s lone goal from Anthony Mantha and Jared McCann. The Canadians took that lead into the second period.
Early in the second, the tide began to turn. Theodore took a tripping penalty 2:15 in and Finland’s Marko Anttila scored on the power play. That tied the game up at one which is where we would be when the third period came around.
In the third, it only took Anttila 2:35 to score what would go down as the game winner as he notched his second of the night. Harri Pesonen added an insurance goal at 15:54 to make it 3-1.
Canada would pull Murray for the extra attacker, but to no avail. They could not get things tied and Finland went on to claim gold. Canada wins the silver and the Russians claimed bronze by beating the Czechs 3-2 in a shootout.
Murray made 19 stops on 22 Finnish shots while Kevin Lankinen turned aside 43 of 44 Canadian shots in a great effort. Kaapo Kakko had one shot on net and was an even plus/minus in 11:58 of playing time over 21 shifts. For Canada, Damon Severson had two shots on net and a minus-1 plus/minus in 20:13 of ice time spread over 24 shifts.
So, while Finland was celebrating across the pond, in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Mooseheads and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were meeting once again. This time it was to decide the 2019 Memorial Cup championship.
They met in the QMJHL Final, in the round-robin of the Memorial Cup and again here. Unfortunately for the Mooseheads, it was the same result. Rouyn-Noranda won the game 4-2 to claim the Memorial Cup.
Halifax, playing on home ice, took a 2-0 lead when Samuel Asselin scored late in the first period on the power play. Raphael Lavoie then scored 5:26 into the second to give the Mooseheads a 2-0 lead.
But from there, the Huskies took over, scoring four straight to claim the win.
Felix Bibeau scored at 10:27 of the second period to cut the lead to 2-1. Joel Teasdale, who would go on to be named the winner of the Stafford Smythe trophy as Memorial Cup MVP, tied it at 15:11 for Rouyn-Noranda.
The fate of both teams would change in a span of two minutes and one second in the third period. The Huskies’ Peter Abbandonato scored the game winner 3:02 into the third frame and then, at 5:03, Vincent Marleau scored to put the game out of reach at 4-2.
And that was the final. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, the captain of the Huskies, who would accept the Memorial Cup later on in the night, was named the game’s first star. The Mooseheads’ Lavoie was the second star while Justin Bergeron of Rouyn-Noranda was the third star.
In goal, Samuel Harvey made 23 saves on 25 shots against for the Huskies while Halifax’s Alexis Gravel turned aside 31 shots on 35 total for Rouyn-Noranda. Jocktan Chainey, in a losing effort, was a minus-1 plus/minus on the night for Halifax.
So, as we head off into the offseason, with the NHL now taking sole place on center stage, congratulations to Finland and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (who had a historic season in the QMJHL) on their championships and here’s to next season for all involved!