The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/13/14 at 10:30 PM ET
Updated 5x at 1:08 AM with oodles of content:
In the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha scored the series-winning goal and had 2 assists as the Val-d'Or Foreurs staked out a 3-0 lead, surrendered it and won the QMJHL champinship via a 4-3 decision over Baie-Comeau in Game 7 of the QMJHL's President's Cup series, with Mantha scoring with 52 seconds left in the 3rd period.
And in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Texas Stars 5-2 thanks to a Tomas Jurco hat trick, 3 assists from Cory Emmerton, a 3-point performance from Teemu Pulkkinen and a 35-save performance from Petr Mrazek. The Griffins now trail Texas 2 games to 1 in their second-round series, with Game 4 scheduled to take place tomorrow night.
Val-d'Or advances to the Memorial Cup, joining OHL champion Guelph, WHL champion Edmonton and host London. The tournament starts on Friday and run through May 25.
Matha, the Red Wings' top pick in 2013 (20th overall), also had two assists. Baie-Comeau rallied from a 3-0 deficit after two periods to tie it before Mantha's heroics.
Mantha, 19, received the Michel Briere Trophy as QMJHL MVP after leading the league with 57 goals and 120 points in just 57 games. He has 24 goals and 38 points in 24 playoff games.
He is a finalist for Canadian Hockey League player of the year honors.
Had Val-d'Or lost on Tuesday, the Red Wings would assigned Mantha to the Grand Rapids Griffins, joining the AHL club for the remainder of its playoff run.
Update #2: Here's the Canadian Press's recap:
Anthony Mantha broke a 3-3 deadlock with 51 seconds remaining in regulation as the Val-d'Or Foreurs edged the host Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4-3 on Tuesday to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship.
Mantha also tacked on two assists and finished the playoffs with 24 goals and 38 points in 24 games.
Antoine Bibeau stopped 40 shots for the Foreurs and was awarded the Guy Lafleur Trophy as MVP of the series.
Louick Marcotte, Samuel Henley and Randy Gazzola also scored for Val-d'Or, which carried a 3-0 lead into the third period.
Jeremy Gregoire, Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau and Felix Girard scored in the third for the Drakkar, who let a 3-2 series lead slip away.
Baie-Comeau's Philippe Cadorette turned aside 18-of-22 shots in a losing cause.
The Foreurs went 0 for 2 on the power play while the Drakkar failed to score on four chances with the man advantage.
Val-d'Or will represent the QMJHL at the upcoming Memorial Cup and will face the host London Knights on Friday.
Update #3: from Yahoo Sports' Sunaya Sapurji:
Update #3: The QMJHL's website posted an English-language recap...
The Val-d’Or Foreurs captured the third President Cup title in franchise history after defeating the Drakkar 4-3 in game seven of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs which was held at the Henry-Léonard Centre in Baie-Comeau.
Anthony Mantha was the big hero on the night, scoring the game-winner with only 52 seconds left after the Drakkar had stormed back from a three-goal deficit in the final twenty minutes of play.
The Foreurs took a 3-0 lead after forty minutes of play thanks to goals from Samuel Henley, Louick Marcotte and Randy Gazzola. But the Drakkar kept plugging away at the Foreurs’ lead in the final frame and were rewarded with three goals of their own off the sticks Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, Félix Girard and Jérémy Grégoire.
The Guy Lafleur Trophy was awarded to the Foreurs’ goaltender, Antoine Bibeau, who faced 43 shots in the seventh game and an average of just over 40 shots during the President Cup final.
Now the Foreurs are headed to London to take part in the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament which begins on Friday. The host London Knights will battle Val-d’Or in the tournament’s opening game.
The Foreurs will try to win a fourth consecutive MasterCard Memorial Cup for the QMJHL, a feat that has never been accomplished in Canadian Hockey League history.
They will face the Western Hockey League Champions, the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Ontario Hockey League Champions, the Guelph Storm and the host team, the London Knights.
Fans can catch all the action live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports starting at 7pm on Friday.
En Francais, from L'Echo Abitibien's Piel Side...
Overwhelmed by the energy of Drakkar, who was well supported by his hostile and loud ghoul, the Drillers were unable to do anything against the ultimate pushed local, in the stretch of the game, but the big number 8 Green Gold and was responsible for throwing a shower of cold water on the tape Éric Veilleux.
"This is an amazing goal! It has been so hot in the third period. At the beginning we thought it was another two-goal lead, but they scored two and we were glued to the ground. We came back strong to finish the match, "commented Anthony Mantha, champions hat on his head.
And TVA Sports...
The Drillers started the game strong and seemed in control after two periods completed . Local favorites came back to life in the third and gave them all a fright . "I 've never been so stressed in my entire life ," said Mantha .
And the Abitibi Express's Marc-Andre Landry:
Teammate Anthony Mantha, who scored the winner does not deny that the scenario that took place late in the game is worthy of the best Hollywood movies.
" Is that what was intended to make it interesting, he has launched . I'm so happy for our trio of players 20 years, the best in the league. This is an incredible feeling. We just lack Cup Memorial now."
Yahoo Sports' Mike Sanderson penned an English-language recap:
The Foreurs looked to be in control of the game after two periods of play, holding a 3-0 lead despite being outshot 24-11. The Drakkar had other ideas, scoring three goals in the third period, including two in the final six minutes, to come back to tie the score at three, and it nearly looked like the QMJHL would see its first Game 7 overtime in the final series.
That’s when Mantha went for the heroics, burying a Louick Marcotte pass for his 24th goal of the post-season with just under a minute to go in the game. Mantha added two assists in the biggest game of his career to date.
The Detroit first rounder finished with 38 points in the playoffs, enough for second overall in the scoring race, behind the superhuman performance of Halifax Moosehead Jonathan Drouin and his 41 points.
The Foreurs got production from their most important players on Tuesday, as Mantha’s three points was helped by Marcotte’s two point effort and goals from Samuel Henley and Randy Gazzola. As well, a strong 40-save effort from Antoine Bibeau was the difference.
Baie-Comeau outshot Val-d’Or 43-22, but couldn’t solve Bibeau more than three times.
For his troubles, Bibeau won the Guy Lafleur Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He went 15-8, with a .913 save percentage and a GAA of 2.80. He was spectacular when he needed to be, and made coach Mario Durocher look like a genius, getting Bibeau with a fifth for a first, a third and a fourth round pick in December.
Update #5: For the record, Mantha and Val-d'Or are heading immediately to London, Ontario as they'll open the Memorial Cup tournament by playing against the London Knights on Thurdsay; on Friday, Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm will battle the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Now on to the Griffins. The Griffins were out-shot 37-32 but defeated the Texas Stars 5-2, climbing back into their second-round series. The Griffins still need to win Wednesday's game (7 PM start) to tie the series and/or avoid an elimination game on Friday, but hey, one step at a time...
Tomas Jurco registered the sixth playoff hat trick in franchise history while Cory Emmerton and Teemu Pulkkinen also enjoyed three-point nights, leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Stars on Tuesday at Van Andel Arena.
Now trailing 1-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Griffins will try to maintain the home teams’ perfect series record when they host Game 4 on Wednesday and Game 5 on Friday. Faceoff each night is at 7 p.m.
Jurco snapped the Griffins’ scoreless streak at 102:46 early in the opening period, notching Grand Rapids’ first goal since his own lamp-lighter during the second period of Game 1. He dug the puck out from behind the net and quickly jammed a wraparound inside the right post at the 7:06 mark.
About four minutes later, Jurco sprang out of the penalty box, won a fight for the puck and skated in alone on Jack Campbell, but he lost control in close before he could get a shot off. He eventually tallied that second goal less than seven minutes after his first, taking a backdoor pass from Riley Sheahan and beating Campbell from below the right circle at 13:44.
Following intermission, Andrej Nestrasil needed just 25 seconds to push the Griffins’ lead to 3-0, as he took a slick backward centering pass from Pulkkinen and solved Campbell from the slot.
Deft puck-handling by Emmerton led to a signature Pulkkinen rocket, the Griffins’ fourth goal and a bit of rest for Campbell 8:23 into the frame, as Emmerton skated around a defender before dropping a pass to Pulkkinen for a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle.
Christopher Nilstorp, who blanked Grand Rapids on 30 saves in Game 2, entered the contest and nearly witnessed his squad get on the board, but an apparent Stars goal at the 11:06 mark was quickly waved off by the referee due to incidental contact with goaltender Petr Mrazek.
Jurco finished off the Griffins’ first playoff hat trick in more than seven years with 3:53 remaining in the period. Following hard work by Mitch Callahan and Sheahan to keep control of the puck deep in the Texas zone, Sheahan found Jurco all alone to the right of the net for Grand Rapids’ first three-goal playoff performance since Matt Ellis did the deed on April 21, 2007 at Manitoba.
Jurco’s three goals and Sheahan’s two assists gave each of them 20 career playoff points, tying them with Jan Mursak for ninth place on the franchise’s all-time playoff scoring list.
With Campbell back between the Stars’ pipes to start the third, the visitors quickly made things interesting. Former Griffin Mike Hedden ruined Mrazek’s shutout bid on a partial breakaway 2:24 into the period, lifting the puck over the netminder’s blocker, before Brendan Ranford tallied his fourth goal of the series by whipping a shot home from the slot at 5:47.
The Griffins denied the Stars’ mighty power play unit after Nick Jensen was whistled off for delay of game at 6:08 then held firm the rest of the way, despite Texas’ 12-3 shot advantage over the final 20 minutes.
Mrazek, who passed Jimmy Howard into sole possession of first place among Griffins goalies with his 31st career playoff game, finished with 35 saves. Campbell stopped 15 of 19 shots in the loss, while Nilstorp turned aside two of three in relief.
Notes: Thanks to tonight’s win, the Griffins still have not lost three consecutive games in regulation all season, through 83 regular season and playoff contests…In two seasons under Jeff Blashill, the Griffins are now 10-2 when they’re within two losses of playoff elimination…Of the 285 teams in AHL history that trailed 1-2 in a best-of-seven, 75 (26.3%) went on to win the series. The last team to accomplish the feat was the 2013 Griffins against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals…Tonight’s attendance of 4,293 represented an increase of 57 percent over the Griffins’ crowd for Game 3 of the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals against Toronto (2,738).
Three Stars: 1. GR Jurco (hat trick); 2. GR Pulkkinen (goal, two assists); 3. GR Mrazek (W, 35 saves)
The Griffins also posted a photo gallery and a combined clip of highlights and post-game comments:
1. Texas did indeed have a goal waived off...
2. And after Curtis McKenzie elbowed Tomas Jurco in the head...
3. At the end of the game, Brennan Evans tried to fight McKenzie as he got speared in the balls, Mitchell Callahan tried to fight McKenzie but was restrained by the linesman, and Jurco doffed gloves:
Quotes? You want quotes, too? The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner provides both an embedded 32-image gallery and a recap...
The Stars didn’t go quietly. They scored twice in the final period to spoil a strong first two periods from Petr Mrazek, and continued their series-long domination on shots. They outshot the Griffins 37-22. They came in with a 73-55 advantage.
"Momentum is a funny thing," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It can shift the game one way or the other. And when we scored, we gained more momentum."
"I will also say, when games go 5-0, weird stuff happens," he said. "My focus to our guys was on the way we played the first two periods."
Jurco, who came into the game with three points (2-1-3) in four games, gave the Griffins the strong start. After being outscored 4-1 in the first period – and 8-2 over two – the Griffins jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Jurco scored on a wrap-around from in back of the net seven minutes in, and then took a great cross-ice feed from Riley Sheahan to score again, this time on a power play, with six minutes left.
"I just played my game and luckily they went in," said Jurco, who had a hat trick in the season's 15th against Rockford. "Sometime it doesn't go in ... I actually could have scored a couple other goals, but they just didn't go in."
As did Michigan Hockey's Pat Evans:
"You don’t want to get down 3-0,” Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill said. “You have to get to four as fast as you can, but it’s gotta start with one. Obviously that was a big game tonight. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”
Jurco’s hat trick is the sixth in Griffins’ playoff history and the first since Matt Ellis found the net three times on April 21, 2007 in Manitoba. Jurco has five goals in the playoffs this season.
“The first goal was a big thing for us, that was a big deal,” Blashill said. “They did a good job in the first eight minutes, we relaxed and played the way we’re capable of.”
The Stars found their way onto the board twice in the third period, once on a breakaway goal from Mike Hedden at 2:24 into the period, and again three minutes later with a goal from Brendan Ranford.
“When games go 5-0, weird stuff happens,” Blashill said. “My focus to our guys was the way we played the first two periods. It was a real hockey game those first two periods and we did lots of good stuff.”
“It’s a good win for us, and we got some confidence for sure,” Pulkkinen said. “It’s just one game and you need four to win the series, so you just have to keep going.”
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