Memorial Cup: Live Blogging Game 1 vs. Drummondville

NB:  I really started live-blogging a few minutes into the 2nd period; the bits about the first period were notes I was keeping to do a recap,.

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Go Spits Go!!

Pre-game ceremonies underway:  if the PA announcer doesn’t pick up the pace, Windsor’s Memorial Cup participation drought could easily stretch from 21 to 22 years before the puck drops.

Early flurry and big chance on Engelage;  the Windsor goaler looks a little lost, and like he’s turning the wrong way.  Another couple of early chances in the Windsor end for the QMJHL champs, and Windsor is looking a little bit like a team that hasn’t played a game in over a week – which is what they are.

There was a strange discussion by the Sportsnet announcers during which they observe that Taylor Hall has so many gold medals, he might easily be mistaken for Mister T, “but with a better haircut.  Same beard though.”  The two announcers laugh and the next word out of the play-by-play guy’s mouth is “Blacker…”, which I incorrectly mistake for a moment as a startlingly inappropriate (and somewhat confusing) continuation of the jest, rather than a reference to the Windsor defenceman.

Jesse Blacker gets crunched on a cheap-shot elbow in the Windsor zone by Sean Couturier.  Blacker had gotten rid of the puck long before the hit and wasn’t looking when Couturier tried to force feed him an elbow.  I think I could learn to dislike these guys.  The Windsor power-play looks mostly disorganized, except for one brief bit of sustained pressure;  again, like a team that hasn’t played in a while (though also oddly reminiscent of the way the PP looked during Game 4 of the OHL Final vs. Brampton).

By the end of the period, the Spitfires are undoubtedly getting the majority of the better scoring chances.  Taylor Hall has had at least three shots on goal, and was nearly in alone against the Drumondville goalie with about two minutes to go in the period, but the frame ends with no score.

Period two: The teams come out seeming a little tentative;  play is back and forth and generally disorganized.  Not much happens until Scott Timmins gets filled in from behind along the boards – no call.  The Windsor bench is going crazy trying to get the attention of the officials, which is instead fixated on Timmins’ slash on the Drummondville goaltender Marco Cousineau’s stick.  Tough to miss, the goalie’s stick nearly ends up in Row J.  Spits kill the penalty, but soon draw another during a bit of Drummondville cycling deep in the Spitfire zone.

10:38 remaining – Windsor somehow permits Riendeau in alone on Engelage – that’s the Riendeau with 59 points in 19 playoff games for the Voltigeurs – no, that’s not a typo, and yes it refers to goals and assists he’s earned, not Club Z credits.   Big stop by Engelage to keep the score 0-0.

8:58 remaining – coming out of a TV timeout, an interview with Leafs prospect (and Drummondville forward) Chris DiDomenico, who is sidelined with a broken femur.  DiDomenico may be a tough guy (apparently, while being carried off the ice with a shattered leg, he was urging his ‘mates on to victory) but he’s a terrible interview.  It is entirely possible that the rinkboard glass would have had more interesting responses to the questions posed.  Maybe he’s heavily medicated.

6:28 remaining – Eric Wellwood is sprung in on the backhand against Cousineau with a defenceman pursuing closely behind.  Cousineau goes down early and takes the puck off his shoulder. The rebound bounces high and lands in behind the Drummondville netminder, then dances along the goal-line but appears not to have gone in. Drummondville swipes the tantalizingly available puck away and rushes back down to the other end where Engelage makes an amazing side-to-side trapper stop on Dumont. Whoa.

5:49 remaining – roughing penalty to Windsor’s Dale Mitchell.

3:00 remaining – killed off.  Another great chance on the backhand driving off the right wing by Wellwood.  Windsor is still carrying the majority of the play.

1:21 remaining – Drummondville penalty to Masse for hooking.   Boughner calls his time out.  Interesting strategy choice, Windsor seems to sense an important opportunity to seize the lead and take the momentum and to rest the first unit.   The Spits are carrying the play, but it’s safe to say it’s  a good thing they didn’t draw Kelowna for game one or they’d be toast.

1:00 remaining – Following some decent puck possession in the Drummondville zone, a nice opportunity in the slot fizzles out.

:30 remaining – a shot from the point by Ellis, puck cleared by the Voltigeurs.  Face off deep in the Windsor zone.  Windsor scores (apparently) after wining a face-off deep in their zone and moving the puck quickly up ice and into the Drummondville zone.  Henrique gets the goal, apparently with .2 seconds left on the clock.  Video review.

.2 remaining – goal allowed, 1-0 Windsor.  Drummondville coach Boucher will watch the face-off at centre ice from in the tunnel, he was on his way to the dressing room already.

During the intermission, Sportsnet shows Mickey Renaud’s jersey hanging behind the Windsor bench.  I think I’ve got something in my eye.

Third Period

19:27 remaining – excellent Drummondville opportunity in front on a tip play emanating from the corner.  Whew.  It seems to have hit Engelage.

17:45 remaining – the last shift was all Drummondville, and there were two more opportunities to score.

17:10 remaining – some guy named Dumont for Drummondville is making me very nervous.  He seems to be on a mission in the Windsor zone.

15:13 remaining – dangerous backhand by Masse off the draw, saved by Engelage.

Is Andrei Loktoniov playing?  Haven’t noticed him at all since midway through the first on the Windsor powerplay.

14:02 remaining – Jesse Blacker hooks Dumont to the ice in front of Engelage as Dumont carries the puck across the face of the Windsor net on an excellent soring chance.  Not a good idea to give these guys a lot of powerplays;  they hit at something like 36% I think this year – almost as often as an Ontario convenience store owner wins the lottery.

12:34 remaining – Scott Timmins has a shorthanded chance.  Rather than trying a dangerous cross ice pass, he puts the shot on net.  I like the way that kid plays.

12:01 remaining – Dumont scores just as the powerplay is ending.  Nice pas by Vachon to set Dumont up for an easy tip in.  Engelage has no chance.  Tie game, 1-1.

10:58 remaining – Hall is…um…”hauled” down.  Penalty Drummondville.

10:00 remaining –  Still no pressure from Windsor’s powerplay.  Dumont (is there anybody else playing for Drummondville?) is out there on the PK and ragging the puck in the Windsor zone.

8:52 remaining – Penalty killed.  Windsor recorded only one shot, a blast from the top of the left-wing circle off the rush by Eric Wellwood that removed the stick from Cousineau’s hand.  Good PK by Drummondville, but Windsor seems to be lacking a sense of urgency right now.

8:12 remaining – Shutron passes one across the blueline to Cundari, he one-times it from the left point and Henrique tips it in.  Windsor 2, Drummondville 1.  I think the Spits will need another to record the win before this is out.

5:53 remaining – As if on cue, Lefebvre scores for Drummondville on a weak goal.  It’s a one-on-one rush, Lefebvre wrists one from just inside the blueline using the Windsor defender as a screen.  Don’t think it was tipped, Engelage should have had it.

4:58 remaining – Loktionov is back.  He basically materializes just inside the Drummondville blueline like a wraith, then steps into a slapshot that Cousineau blocks and freezes.

4:18 remaining – Taylor Hall just misses an outlet pass that would have sent him alone on the left wing.  Icing instead.

3:54 remaining – Drummondville is definitely the quicker team at the moment – they are getting to loose pucks and hemming the Spits in their zone.

3:00 remaining – Scramble in front of Cousineau, McDermid has at least two opportunities, but can’t get the puck through a crowd reminiscent of Live Aid on the doorstep.  Suddenly , the Spits are hemming the Voltigeurs in their zone.  Good shift by McDermid, Shugg and Henrique.

1:00 remaining – Windsor carrying the play.

:31 remaining – Windsor’s Henrique ices the puck unnecessarily.   Henrique wins the draw and Windsor moves up ice.  There is a scoring opportunity near Cousineau, and Drummondville ices it.

:06 remaining – Face off in Drummondville zone.  Timmins vs. Masse on the draw.  Boughner may be wishing he had a second time out, though it was still the right call to take it when he did.   For some reason, Boucher is barking at the refs and giving Windsor an effective timeout anyway.

:00 remaining – No matter, we’re going to overtime.

On balance, the play has been more or less even.  In truth, though, Windsor is fortunate to be still even up;  the Voltigeurs have effectively exploited their speed advantage and have limited to perhaps a half-dozen occasions prolonged sequences of cycling in their defensive zone.  Windsor’s best chances have come off the rush, which may mean they will have to play a patient overtime and wait for a turnover that can be quickly converted into an odd-man opportunity on the transition.  If Drummondville keeps its feet moving, Engelage better be ready to see a bit of rubber in the extra session.

A little bit of fooling about on Sportsnet’s site confirms that the Voltigeurs’ powerplay had a 35.7% success rate this year.  I think Drummondville is technically 1 for 4 right now, but Dumont’s goal was definitely caused by the powerplay.  If you take the strict technical approach, the Spits are 3 for 4 on the PK and playing with house money based on the Voltigeurs’ pre-series PP numbers;  conversely, you could say that 4 Windsor penalties have caused two goals and it might not be a bad idea to stay the hell out of the box.

Watching the intermission festivities transpiring in the Colisée de Rimouski, I am reminded of an impulse that first struck me while at the Spits/Batallion game:  the Juniorvanian Defence force needs one of these.

Overtime is underway.

19:39 remaining – After a blocked shot on Ryan Ellis, it’s two on one Drummondville.  Save Engelage, as  the Drummondville puck carrier seems to struggle with the puck and fail to get the pass to the open man.

Boughner comes back with the Timmins/Shugg/McDermid line.  Good choice.  We actually spend some time in the Drummondville zone, and I manage to breathe once or twice.

17:38 remaining – scoring chance in front of Engelage, Windsor heads up ice and gets a chance of their own as Taylor Hall circles the net and gets a shot off while moving away from Cousineau.

Hall upended rushing the puck over the Drummondville line, looked dangerously like the Drummondville defender got him on the knee – but he seems okay.

15:50 remaining – Shutron under pressure from Riendeau in the Spitfire zone;  he ices the puck.

Windsor controls off the draw but turns it over on the rush, Drummondville counters in the Spitfire zone and has a near chance.  The puck is cleared and now Drummondville has iced it.

15:15 remaining – Windsor controls off the draw and Hall gets a chance on the backhand out front of Cousineau.

McDermid stong on the puck in the left-wing corner, results in a bit of sustained pressure for about a minute and three or four shots directed at the net, though they may not all go on goal.  Drummondville is forced to ice it to relieve the pressure.

13:00 – after the play scrambles for a while along the wall in the neutral zone, Cundari grabs the puck and darts over the line, pulls up and slaps one at Cousineau.  It’s deflected over the glass.  The face-off produces another chance and then Wellwood has a man alone in front but the play is broken up by the lone Drummondville defender.

12:16 Drummondville is pressing.  Dale Mitchell flips a long one in as he heads for the bench that bounces on Cousineau and nearly goes in.

11:04 remaining – Drummondville recovers a shoot in alone behind the net.  The Spitfire defence chooses to stand off the post instead of challenging the Drummondville forward Lefebvre and the puck is centred to Prokop, who gets a shot at goal that is deflected downwards.  The puck bounces and is loose in front of Engelage.  It is recovered by Maxim Frenette for Drummondville;  he backhands it in to a yawning cage as Engelage cannot recover his footing in time after the re-direct.  Drummondville wins 3-2.

This was not an unfair result.  The QMJHL champs looked quicker and recovered the majority of loose pucks from the second period on.  Windsor will have to rest up and be sure they beat Rimouski tomorrow afternoon at 4:30.  It already looks as though the path to the final – if Windsor is to get there – will be a long one.  From what I saw of Kelowna last night, they have to be considered the favourite in this tournament.  I would have placed Windsor a close second, but Drummondville played a smart and energetic game.  The Spitfires will have to hope that Drummondville can continue to seem fresh and use its team speed to beat the Kelowna defence – who are all brick shithouses on skates- to loose pucks to create offence.

The Spits will have to play much better than they did today if they hope to beat the Rockets head to head.  Both Ryan Ellis and Andrei Loktoniov seemed almost entirely absent from the game;  the Spits will need offensive contributions from them before the tournament is over if they are to challenge for the title.

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.

3 comments

  1. Granted, Kelowna played the host team in the opener — said host being guaranteed a spot in the Memorial Cup regardless of playoff results — but hosts have stolen Cups before, and Kelowna had a tough road through the WHL this year, upsetting the favored Tri-City Americans (they somehow come up with these amazing goalies, although Carey Price does have some growing up to do; with any luck, Chet Pickard will be able to learn from his predecessor’s example) and Vancouver Giants, then disposing of the Calgary Hitmen without much difficulty. Two games in, it’s not immediatly clear who’s the favorites yet; I’ll have to catch up with the two DVR’d games, assuming I can get figgy to change the channel from all-cartoons-all-the-time.

  2. DVR’d games?

    Um, there’s one more little bit of text that should have been at the beginning of this post…”SPOILER ALERT!” Sorry, Mike!

    It’s true that it’s tough to measure Kelowna against the host (non-champion) team, but Rimouski were no slouches this year (44 wins, 6th overall) and the hosts always get a bit of a boost it seems from the energy of the crowd. I think it’s possible that crowd enthusiasm can affect the outcome of the game more directly in junior hockey than in any other sport I’ve ever attended. Kelowna seemed to be nevertheless in absolute command of that game. The fact that they knocked off the Hitmen – consistently the #1 or #2 ranked team all year, plus my paranoid nature (minimizing the Spits’ chances – they were ranked #1 or #2 all year too) in my mind makes them the obvious favourite.

    The thing that scares the crap out of me about the Rockets is the size of their defence – they’ve got a half dozen absolute behemoths back there, and my impression of the Spitfire team was that size was somewhat (though not entirely) lacking. The Spits will have to do to Kelowna what the Voltigeurs did to them, or they have no hope.

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