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2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup: Shawinigan Cataractes’ Gabriel Girard relaxed before must-win game

Shawinigan Cataractes goalie Gabriel Girard (The Canadian Press)SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Gabriel Girard and his teammates probably had enough video sessions to last a lifetime during their 30-day layoff before the MasterCard Memorial Cup. It was no big deal, then, when the TV in their hotel that was showing Saturday's Saint John-London game lost the signal in the second period.

What did the Cataractes, their evening suddenly shot, do for entertainment instead?"

"We played XBox after," said the overage goalie, who'll make his first start in 44 days said on Sunday vs. London. "We played Tiger Woods and MLB. I did well. I think I played 12-under. I beat [Cataractes defenceman Dillon] Donnelly. I'm not sure if I would beat him for real.

"You don't always need to think hockey," Girard added. "Playing cards or video games is a good way to pass the time. You just need to be relaxed."

Girard has had nearly as long a break from the net as the namesake of that golf game had from the PGA Tour. The Varennes, Que., native has not played since April 6. Coach Éric Veilleux replaced Girard after the Cataractes squandered a third-period lead against the Chicoutimi Saguenéens by gaving up three goals in fewer than three minutes. Seventeen-year-old Alex Dubeau played the rest of the series.

Dubeau allowed four goals on 25 shots on Friday when Shawinigan lost 4-3 to the Edmonton Oil Kings. He wasn't bad; the poor save percentage doesn't reflect that the Oil Kings had a lot of premium chances. The 5-foot-9, 152-pound Dubeau showed good lateral quickness to get post-to-post for a couple big saves. Veilleux typically rotated his veteran and his young goalie all season, so he's going back to the platoon. The move was more or less expected.

Girard is one of the few holdovers from 2009 when the Cataractes lost a heartbreaking seven-game QMJHL final to Sean Couturier and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. He noted he'll have to be alert for one of London's favourite gambits, shooting from odd angles to produce a juicy rebound they can pop into the net. Max Domi scored the Knights first goal on Saturday from that bit of work.

"You have to find the right spot in the crease," Girard said. "If you're too deep in the net that's where they'll get a rebound. If you come out too far you might leave something else open. It's not easy."

The Cataractes are the only team in the tournament which uses a two-goalie system. Edmonton's Tristan Jarry, 16, and Saint John's Sébastien Auger, 17, did not see any post-season action. London backup Tyson Teichmann played three minutes in the OHL post-season.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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