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Red Wings playoff prospect news: Mantha’s Foreurs take 2-OT decision at Memorial Cup

Updated substantially at 2:28 AM: Anthony Mantha had only an assist as his Val-d'Or Foreurs defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-3 in a double-overtime decision at the Memorial Cup, but his linemate, Anthony Richard, scored the game-winner, and the fact that Mantha's getting the snot checked out of him by new opponents is essential for his growth as a player (he has 1 goal, 2 assists and is a -1 in 3 games).

The win assures that the Foreurs won't have to play Thursday's tiebreaker--instead, they'll await the winner of Thursday's Edmonton-London tilt, and whichever team's playing back-to-backs will battle Val-d'Or on Friday, and whichever team wins Friday's game will advance to play Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm in Sunday's championship game.

Guelph will wrap up its round-robin play against the London Knights on Wednesday evening, but that game doesn't really count for much of anything as London will have to play in Thursay's tiebreaker--and it turns out that the game means something as a London win = London plays Edmonton on Thursday, and a London loss = the hosts are eliminated.

However, Guelph will get three days off to wait for the winner of Friday's game no matter what happens.

First and foremost, the Oilers' website posted a superb highlight clip:

If you wish to watch the Oilers' post-game interviews with Oil Kings players (the Oil Kings' website also posted the same highlight clip and post-game commentary) or coach Derek Laxdal's comments, you may most certainly do so, but the Oilers' website also posted a photo gallery and a very solid recap penned by Mark Ciampa...

The Edmonton Oil Kings outplayed and outshot the Val d'Or Foreurs but it was the QMJHL squad who came away with the lengthy double overtime victory, 4-3 in the final round robin game for both teams.

Early in the second OT frame, Val d'Or's Anthony Richard raced to the puck, all alone on a breakaway. He shot five hole on Oil Kings netminder Tristan Jarry for the goal.

"Right now, we know our fate. The kids are tired. Both teams battled hard," said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. "Both goaltenders played pretty well, I thought, but at the end of the day I thought we deserved the better fate."

Shots on goal were 50-33 in favour of the Oil Kings.

"Give them credit, they stuck to it. They're an opportunistic team," said Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart after the game. "We gave them some opportunities at times and they took advantage of it.

And I'm allowed to post the Mastercard Memorial Cup's website's recap in full (they also posted a photo gallery, the same highlight clip, and Sportsnet announcers RJ Broadhead and Sam Cosiento's takes on the game):

The Val-d'Or Foreurs (2-1) have guaranteed themselves a spot in Friday’s 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup Semi-Final with a 4-3 double overtime win against the Edmonton Oil Kings (1-2) at the Budweiser Gardens, in London, ON.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Antoine Bibeau put together another outstanding performance between the pipes with 47 saves, and Anthony Richard scored the game-winner after 81:15 of hockey ending the sixth longest game in MasterCard Memorial Cup history.

“Reinhart missed the puck at the blue line, I got my speed on the breakaway, and I put it five hole,” commented Richard on the game-winner.

Early on in the game the momentum was on the Oil Kings’ side, as forward Reid Petryk opened the scoring at the 6:22 mark of the first period finishing a nice pass from Curtis Lazar to put the Oil Kings up 1-0.

Lazar would notch his second point of the night less than three minutes later with an easy tap in on the power play to extend his club’s leads to two.

Val-d’Or would cut into the lead late in the first period as New York Rangers draft pick, Ryan Graves would fire a wrist shot past Tristan Jarry to make it 2-1.

At 9:38 of the second, Val-d’OR forward Pierre-Maxime Poudrier would take advantage of a broken stick and a lucky bounce to send him in on the breakaway, shorthanded, beating Jarry to tie the game at two.

Bibeau's efforts kept the Foreurs in the game as long as possible, being outshot 29-14 after two periods, but 5:46 into the third period Henrik Samuelsson, a Phoenix Coyotes prospect, would finally beat Bibeau to put the Oil King ahead 3-2.

Foreurs' captain Samuel Henley, on only his clubs second shot of the third period, would tie the game for Val-d'Or at 15:39 of the third and send the game to overtime.

“Again we had a slow start,” said Val-d'Or Head Coach Mario Durocher. “I think every period we play better and better, so hopefully we’ll be able to do the same thing for the rest of the tournament.”

For the Oil Kings, they now await their fate pending the outcome of Wednesday's final round-robin contest between the London Knights and the Guelph Storm.

“You never want to be here but I think we’ve made the best of it so far and we always respond,” said New York Islanders draft pick and Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart. “Whether London or Guelph wins we’re going to come out strong and try to win from here on out and every game is a game 7 now.”

A Knights' win forces a Tiebreaker game against the Oil Kings on Thursday, whereas a Storm win secures the WHL champions a place in the Semi-Final in a rematch against the Foreurs on Friday.

Tonight marked the second double overtime game to be played in London at the MasterCard Memorial Cup with the last one played May 22, 2005, when the Ottawa 67's defeated the Kelowna Rockets after 95:41 of play.

The Oil Kings lamented "bad bounces," as the Edmonton Journal's John MacKinnon noted...

“Look at their first goal,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “We had complete control and instead of bringing it out on the weak side (where there was) no traffic, we bring it up the strong side, turn it over and it’s in our net.

“You talk about the game being a game of bounces. Look at their second goal, it hits a broken stick, bounces by (defenceman Ashton) Sautner, they go in for a score.

“The third goal, we thought there should have been an icing call on the play, there wasn’t. Then (Reinhart) misses the clearing attempt and it ends up in our net to tie the game.

“And the fourth goal, again, another bounce over our stick, and it ends up in our net.’

As did the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones:

“The Hockey Gods were against us,” said Curtis Lazar who had set up and scored on the first two goals to stake the Oil Kings to a 2-0 lead.

The Sautner broken stick giveaway wasn’t quite comparable to Mads Eller scoring his “own goal” from behind the net when the Oil Kings were leading Guelph in their tournament opener, but was in the ball park.

“I think the penalty shot missed by Kulda really played into the change of the game,” said coach Derek Laxdal.

We'll shift our perspectives to those of the Foreurs the hard way--en Francais--via the Abitibi Express's Valerie Malthais's recap (which also includes an embedded photo gallery)...

"We had a slow start, but as the game went on, we got better," said coach Mario Durocher. "I'm proud that the guys didn't give up when it was 2-0, especially given that we were playing against the one of the best defenses in the country."

Goals by Shawn St. Amant (at the end of the 1st) and Pierre-Maxime Poudrier negated the deficit, and after Henrik Samuelsson restored the Alberta team's lead, Sam Henley forced overtime with 4 minutes left in the third period.

"Our goal was to win this game and make sure that we got these two days off, which will allow us to heal up and better prepare for the next one," said Henley.

La Presse's Gabriel Beland's recap...

"I don't know why we start our games like that," said Anthony Mantha. "But we must improve it."

Mantha was in the sights of Henirk Samuelsson. Both jabbed at each other all night. "It's physical hockey," said Mantha, a prime target for opponents.

...

With the win, the Foreurs now have 2 wins and a loss at the Memorial Cup. They've qualified for the semifinals on Friday, where they'll face the London Knights or the Oil Kings, the WHL champions. The Guelph Storm have already earned a spot in Sunday's final.

"We've qualified; we have two days of rest now and home ice advantage in the semifinals. It'll help us," said Mantha.

And L'Echo Abitibien:

The Val-d'Or Foreurs and Edmonton Oil Kings gave hockey fans bonus hockey at the Budweiser Gardens: two overtimes! Anthony Richard ended the marathon hockey game by beating goaltender Tristan Jerry on a breakaway at 1:15 of the fifth period, earning a 4-3 victory.

"It's certainly the most important goal of my career! To play in the Memorial Cup is huge for a 17-year-old. We all want to do well all the time," said a pleased Richard.

TVA Sports posted the longest highlight clip I've found, a 4:39 clip, but it's in French and not embeddable.

In English, the Canadian Press's Donna Spencer noted that goaltender Justin Bibeau was big in the net, rebounding after being pulled after the 4th goal in the Foreurs' 6-3 loss to Guelph on Monday:

Pierre-Maxime Poudrier scored on a short-handed breakaway in the second period for the fresh-faced Foreurs. Captain Samuel Henley tied the game in the third period to force overtime and Shawn Ouellette-St-Amant also contributed a goal.

But Val-d'Or was able to stay on Edmonton's heels because of Bibeau. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect stopped 47 shots, including a penalty shot by Edgars Kulda in the first period.

Bibeau posted a 51-save shutout in Val-d'Or's first game of the tournament against London. He also denied Knights forward Bo Horvat on a third-period penalty shot in that game.

"Antoine is just awesome," Henley said. "He keeps us in the game every time. He keeps everyone calm in the room. He's such a good goalie, a good teammate and a good player. We probably wouldn't have won the game without him."

Of important note:

Foreurs defenceman Guillaume Gelinas did not play Tuesday. Assistant coach Mark Pietroniro said earlier in the day Gelinas suffered a "knee contusion" in Monday's collision with Guelph's Chadd Bauman.

Val-d'Or's top defenceman joined his teammates for warmup, but spent most of it standing beside the boards looking sore. Gelinas left the ice before his teammates did.

Also of important note: NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale noted that Mantha assisted on the game-tying goal:

Right wing Anthony Mantha (Detroit Red Wings) made the play happen when he battled for a loose puck in the left-wing corner before dishing to center Anthony Richard in the left circle. Richard quickly led Henley skating through the slot.

The London Free Press's Ryan Pyette's simply being literal in stating that the "Beardless Foreurs win in overtime" (there's a photo gallery embedded in his recap, too):

After Henrik Samuelsson gave Edmonton a third-period lead, Val d'Or captain Sam Henley forced overtime with 4:11 left in regulation. Following a poor outing against Guelph, the veteran leader urged his mates to shave off their playoff beards. It worked.

“It's a decision we took (Monday) night,” said Val d'Or scoring star Anthony Mantha, who was held goal-less once more. “Maybe for a new start. It's nothing big. It could be (a superstition) depending who looks at it, but I think it's just a new start for our team.”

Gelinas, injured by Guelph winger Chadd Bauman's third-period knee hit Monday, dressed for pre-game warmup, but didn't do much moving around. He was scratched.

“It's a knee contusion right now,” Val d'Or assistant coach Marco Pietroniro said. “He left the game (Monday) on crutches so he doesn't put pressure on his leg. Time will tell (when he can play). We're not going to jeopardize his heath for a hockey game. It's not do-or-die right now. We're going to be putting his health first. Our medical staff is doing its best so we can have him in the lineup (as soon as possible).”

Sportsnet's Patrick King is more of an observational scribe than a quote-based writer, and here are his takes on the game:

Why the Foreurs won: The game could have got out of hand quickly for the Foreurs with shades of Monday’s 6-3 drubbing against Guelph emerging. The game may have been on Edgars Kulda’s stick midway through the first period. The Latvian forward got a penalty shot but like Ryan Rupert on Friday, was stopped trying to beat Foreurs goalie Antoine Bibeau blocker side.

The save bought Bibeau’s team time to get back in the game, which they did slowly over the course of the outing. Bibeau was called upon entirely too often as there were countless high-quality scoring chances for the Oil Kings throughout the game. Val-d’Or head coach Mario Durocher has often said he wants his team to force shots to the outside and close off the slot, but the prime scoring area in front of Bibeau’s net was available all game.

“That’s probably why we won the game,” Foreurs captain Samuel Henley said of his goaltender. “With him, we could counter attack and we’re really confident in him and we can attack more and without Antoine, we probably wouldn’t even be here (in the MasterCard Memorial Cup) today.”

Goaltending and opportunistic scoring were the keys for Val-d’Or. Henley’s tying goal with under five minutes to play in regulation came on what Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said he thought was icing. Then in overtime Anthony Richard scored the decisive goal after Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart had the puck hop over his stick and lead to a breakaway.

As far as Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager is concerned, this was the first "classic" game of the Memorial Cup tournament, and as such, it was a game that the tournament needed:

Truth be known, for nearly two periods Edmonton and Val-d'Or engaged in a protracted feeling-out process that only added to the vibe this tournament has been rather dry and bland, too corporate, too much gap between Guelph and everyone else. Then it picked up, with a disputed overtime-forcing goal, a pinged crossbar in the first breaths of bonus hockey, and finally, 5-foot-8, 168-pound Richard ending it 1:15 into double overtime. Lukewarm start, sizzling finish, one team getting the final bounce: that's major junior hockey.

Start with Richard, the 17-year-old who furnishes complementary scoring for Val-d'Or with 25 goals in the regular season. All night long, he was sniffing around the net, before finally getting the first assist on Samuel Henley's tying goal with 4:11 left. Then he pounced on a puck that had skipped past Griffin Reinhart to get the winner. No wonder he wears the Rocket's deified digit.

"Since I was young, I got the number," Anthony Richard said. "It was my choice. I love wearing it and it gives me a lot of confidence.

"We were excited to have a chance to play another overtime because it was a chance to prove we are better than Edmonton," Richard said. "We played sharp in the first overtime and the bounce. We had to stay tight defensively and help make Antoine [Bibeau] make the saves [47 on the night].

Richard's goal was the second of the night by a diminutive Foreur who got a breakaway thanks to a fortuitous bounce. In the second, a pass hit a broken stick and ricocheted by Edmonton's Ashton Sautner to put Pierre-Maxime Poudrier on a breakaway. He scored to tie it 2-2.

Then there was a possible missed icing call on Henley's equalizer. Anthony Mantha nicked the puck from Reinhart and, two passes later, Henley had tied a game where Val-d'Or had just treaded water for the first 50 minutes. Then the Oil Kings' Brett Pollock hit the crossbar early in overtime.

"I thought it was going to be over when Pollock ripped one off the crossbar," Foreurs defenceman Randy Gazzola said.

Val-d'Or's played like a QMJHL team, but Bibeau's allowed them to get away with it:

The Foreurs allowed 150 shots in the round-robin and went 2-1. It is not always the team that deserves to win who does in this tournament. Edmonton, with better puck luck, might be 3-0 and sorting through tourism brochures. Instead it's looking at having the long route to Sunday.

Sager also issued a 3-star selection, and Yahoo did post a photo gallery embedded in its CP recap.

For what it's worth, Sportsnet claims that I cannot watch their highlight clip from the game, their panel's take on the game, their post-game interview with Anthony Richard, R.J. Broadhead and Sam Cosiento's observations, coach Mario Durocher's comments or a set of "sights and sounds" due to "technical difficulties," but I get the feeling that they've been geo-blocked to Canadian IP addresses.

Mantha didn't star in this one, but after being checked into submission by Guelph, but he was in the mix during this game, and learning to be a professional hockey player is all about adapting to finding yourself targeted for heavy checking.

Mantha's point total ultimately won't matter very much: what matters is that he's played against the OHL's champion team, the WHL's champion team and a hockey powerhouse in the London Knights, teams that are better than any of his Quebec League competitors, and as a hockey player about to turn pro, he's playing at Major Junior Hockey's highest level, with the spotlight burning brightly upon him.

What we can hope for as Red Wings fans is that he continues to learn and improve as the tournament continues, and that's true for Tyler Bertuzzi as well.

If you wish to read Sager, the Guelph Mercury's Tony Saxon or the London Free Press's Morris Dalla Costa set up Wednesday night's Storm-Knights game, you may most certainly do so on your own.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.