No. 1 star - Yannick Veilleux, Shawinigan Cataractes
In any regular season or round-robin game, you get judged on process. Controlling the play, creating opportunities and, for lack of a better term, looking dangerous. In an elimination game, the second of three consecutive do-or-die games for the Shawinigan Cataractes, it was Yannik Veilleux who came through in the 7-4 win.
Probably one of the more unlikely candidates for a winning goal in the MasterCard Memorial Cup semifinal game, Veilleux fought off the man in front and deftly deflected a Morgan Ellis wrist shot from the right point and it snuck through Mathieu Corbeil to give the Cats a 5-4 lead in front of a raucous 4,763 at Centre Bionest.
The winning goal was something dreamed up on a road hockey, and Yannick admitted in his post-game chat that he got a little lucky. "Ellis just shot the puck towards the net, and I was on it," he said. "It's not the beautiest goal, but it's a goal."
No 2 star - Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs
Down a goal with a little fewer than 11 minutes to play, the Saint John Sea Dogs lined up for a faceoff in the offensive zone. Tomas Jurco and centre Zack Phillips had a brief discussion in the short break prior to the draw and Jurco, the Slovakian who had been hard on himself for not scoring any goals, made an adjustment right before the faceoff.
"He told me he was going to win it, he was going to try to win it to me," said the Detroit Red Wings pick. "He told me to shoot glove, and to shoot low because there was going to be lots of people in front of the net.
Phillips won the draw cleanly, and the puck landed right on the tape of Jurco. Shawinigan's Gabriel Girard may have blinked, and the puck was behind him, as Jurco's shot found the back of the net.
That wasn't the only goal Jurco scored on the night. He had also deflected a Kevin Gagné shot from the high slot in the first period on the powerplay. That goal was also a tying marker: making the game 2-2.
No 3 star - Michael Chaput, Shawinigan Cataractes
Michael Chaput, the heads-up stickhandler who plays much closer to the ice than his 6'1" frame would indicate, corralled a Michaël Bournival pass midway through the second period, going skate-to-stick, and putting the Cats up 4-2 at that point.
Chaput had also been buzzing. His line was all over the ice all night, with Chaput carrying the puck the majority of the time. Rewarded again in the third period, Chaput benefit from being counted on defensively late, picking up a Nathan Beaulieu turnover and getting the chance to skate in facing an open net on a breakaway in front of the crazy hometown fans. He converted to make it 6-4 (another goal with 9.9 on the clock, this one with Mathieu Corbeil in the net, made it 7-4).
"I got lucky to get that breakaway," said Chaput, who was still humble after the game, saying all the right things about the team not having won anything yet. "I didn't even hear anything, all I wanted to do was put it in the net, and then we celebrated with our teammates. I wasn't listening to the crowd, it was more when I got to the bench that I saw that they were going crazy."
Game Grade: It wasn't stuff that coaches dreams are made of, but this was awesome hockey to watch. Electric city came alive and when Veilleux scored the eventual winner, the roof blew off. A+.