HALIFAX, NS – The struggles continue for the Western Hockey League at the Memorial Cup.
A three-goal third period lifted the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, to a 6-3 win over the Prince Albert Raiders, the Western Hockey League champions.
With the loss, the team representing the WHL as league champion has dropped 12 consecutive games dating back to the tournament final in 2015. The last win by a WHL champion at the event was a 9-3 win by the Kelowna Rockets over the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts in the semifinal in 2015.
Prince Albert falls to 0-2 with the loss and faces a must-win situation on Tuesday night.
“Don’t count us out,” said Prince Albert coach Marc Habscheid. “We will be there.”
The Huskies broke the game open with three goals in the final five minutes of regulation time. For Habscheid, the veteran coach felt his team “deserved better.”
"We should have won that game,” Habscheid said. “We had a lot of chances and hit a lot of posts. We hit five or six posts. We missed three or four open nets. It just didn’t go our way, but I liked a lot about our game tonight.”
Tyler Hinam had a pair of goals for Rouyn-Noranda, including the game-winning goal as he went to the net and scored on a rebound after defenceman Noah Dobson drove the net and was stopped initially.
“It was a must-win for us after our loss in the first game,” said Rouyn-Noranda coach Mario Pouliot. “I really liked our start, but we had a tough time trying to cut their speed down when they were gathering speed through the neutral zone.”
“Once we started to put more pressure on them and cutting their space and decreasing their speed, we had more good scoring chances,” Pouliot added. “Offensively, we generated a lot of good scoring chances.”
Dobson, Joel Teasdale, and Felix Bibeau chipped in with a goal and an assist each for the Huskies while Peter Abbandonato also scored.
Goaltender Samuel Harvey stopped 30 shots for the QMJHL champions.
Noah Gregor had a goal and two assists for Prince Albert.
Cole Fonstad added a goal and an assist. Brayden Pachal had the other Raiders goal.
Prince Albert goaltender Ian Scott made 27 saves.
The Raiders will wrap up the round robin on Tuesday night against the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm in an 8 p.m. start.
Guelph enters the game with a 1-1 record.
The short turnaround for the Raiders isn’t on the mind of the WHL champs.
“We always allow our guys to feel sorry for themselves until midnight and that’s done,” Habscheid said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”
“We like our chances if we play the way we did tonight,” Habscheid added.
Rouyn-Noranda, who now sits at 1-1, is set to play in the final round robin game of the event in an 8 p.m. start on Wednesday night against the Halifax Mooseheads. Halifax enters the game unbeaten.