After a stellar regular season,
and exceptional run through the playoffs, the best team in the QMJHL has earned its spot in the 101st Memorial Cup. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, after finishing with the most points among the three leagues in the CHL, qualified for the Memorial for the second time in franchise history by simply making it to the President’s Cup Finals against the host Halifax Mooseheads. However, that was not enough for the Huskies, as they claimed league bragging rights when they won their second President’s Cup by ousting the best team in the Eastern Conference in six games. Let’s look at what to expect from Rouyn-Noranda heading into the Memorial Cup.
Not Their First Rodeo
The Huskies’ first taste of the Memorial Cup was in 2016. A team led by Francis Perron and Timo Meier made it all the way to the final, before falling to the London Knights in overtime. Three players remain from that 2016 team. Stay-at-home defenceman Jacob Neveu played in each of the 25 games during the Huskies’ postseason run. A young Samuel Harvey backed up Chase Marchand that year, and looks to better his predecessor in this year’s tournament. Peter Abbandonato was a rookie that season and did not play a huge role for the Huskies then, but is one of the top guns for Rouyn-Noranda heading into this edition of the Memorial Cup. Speaking of which…
Abbandonato is Doing Fine
The Laval-native finished the regular season with an incredible 111 points, leading the QMJHL, and scored 21 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs. However, Abbandonato missed the entire semifinal against Rimouski with mononucleosis. Obviously the Huskies did not feel the need to take a chance with one of their best playmakers. The decision paid off for Rouyn-Noranda, as they were able to move passed the Oceanic in four games, and after missing game one of the finals, Abbandonato came back against Halifax in game two and made an impact for the Huskies in the finals. He scored six points in his five games in the series, including goals in games four and five. He also assisted on William Cyr’s goal in game five that ended up being the game-winner, putting the Mooseheads on the brink of elimination. With the week off between the finals and the Memorial Cup, that will give the over-ager plenty of time to rest up to make sure he is 100% before the tournament.
Joel Teasdale: Postseason Monster
The biggest move the Huskies made at the trade deadline was the acquisition of Joel Teasdale from Blainville-Boisbriand. The move paid dividends as Teasdale made an immediate impact as the Montreal prospect scored 42 points in his 29 games with Rouyn-Noranda. The playoffs proved that Teasdale could be a big-game player as well. The Lavaltrie, QC-native led the QMJHL in playoff scoring with 34 points. After scoring nine points in the semifinals against Rimouski, Teasdale scored eight points against Halifax. The biggest part of Teasdale’s game is consistency. While his hands and quick release make him an incredible talent, it is his play in the big moments in these playoffs that have made him a formidable presence for the Huskies.
While having Teasdale and Abbandonato clicking offencively is important, they are not the be-all end-all for the Huskies’ attack. Felix Bibeau has been excellent for Rouyn-Noranda this postseason, finishing second in team scoring in these playoffs with 29 points, including a seven-game goal streak that carried from the team’s second round series against Victoriaville through game two in the finals, where the Mercier, QC native scored 10 goals in that stretch.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard has been another asset who has been exceptional throughout the playoffs. After scoring a career-high 85 points during the regular season, Harvey-Pinard put up 27 points for the Huskies, including a team-leading 14 points in the President’s Cup Finals. The Jonquiere, QC product had a trio of three-point games in the series, including a hat trick in game five.
The scoring is not just coming from the forwards either. The blueline of Rouyn-Noranda has helped chipped in throughout the postseason. Justin Bergeron has a solid playoffs in both ends of the rink. Finishing with a plus/minus of 28, the Magog, QC native has been a point-a-game player for the Huskies, as he has scored 20 points in 19 games.
Noah Dobson has been the most notable offencive defencemen in these playoffs. It took him some time to get adjusted to the new club following the trade that brought him to Rouyn-Noranda from Bathurst during the World Junior Championships. He has stepped up in a big way this postseason, as he leads all defencemen in scoring with 29 points, including nine points against Halifax in the finals.
Harvey-ing a Good Time
A team does not dominate in the regular season and win a championship without a good goaltender, and the Huskies have themselves a great goaltender in Samuel Harvey. Harvey was by far the best goaltender in the ‘Q’ this season, and is a candidate for the CHL Goaltender of the Year award as well. The Alma, QC product was outstanding in these playoffs for the Huskies, only giving up 40 goals in the 20 games, and his 1.97 GAA was the best in the postseason. His .924 SV% was second-best among goaltenders, and made some big stops in the finals, despite giving up 17 goals in the series. While this will be his first Memorial Cup as a starter, Harvey is playing confident, and being the veteran that he is, he is ready to handle the big stage.
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