No. 1 star - Kirill Kabanov, Shawinigan Cataractes
The first three games Shawinigan played in this tournament were relatively peanut-free, but New York Islanders' pick Kirill Kabanov stepped up in a big way Thursday night, or at least got rewarded for his previous hard work. The Cataractes kept their season alive with a convincing 6-1 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings in the tiebreaker and will take on Saint John tomorrow in a rematch of Wednesday's emotion-filled affair.
We wouldn't be at this point, likely, if the bounces finally didn't start going Kabanov's way. He out-worked Edmonton's Martin Gernat on the first Shawinigan goal, getting the puck back to Brandon Gormley whose attempt, as has been a theme all tourney, found the back of the net. That was Kabanov's third assist on the tournament.
Then, in one of those strange "only in hockey" moments, Kabanov, who has had chance after chance simply fired a high shot off the back wall, which bounced off Laurent Brossoit and just crossed the line.
"It's sometimes disappointing, but a goal is a goal," said Kabanov about the odd bounce. Had he ever scored like that before? "No. It was kind of funny though."
No. 2 star - Brandon Gormley, Shawinigan Cataractes
Pretty well all tournament long I've been hyping Gormley's ability to get pucks through, and when Gormley gets pucks through, pucks go in. Shawinigan's first two goals tonight came on point shots, and by the time the second period was out, the Phoenix Coyotes prospect's stat line read 1G, 2A. He was a +3 if you care about such things, too, and was named first star in the building.
No. 3 star - Michaël Bournival, Shawinigan Cataractes
Michaël Bournival, like Kabanov, had had a quiet tournament up until the tiebreaker. Unlike Kabanov, however, Bournival hadn't been getting the individual opportunities. He'd been creating traffic in front of opposing goaltenders' all week, and using his strength to open up lanes for Gormley to fire through. He also contributed offensively, scoring the 5-0 goal on the powerplay, finishing off a pretty passing play.
Bournival is Montreal Canadiens prospect and Shawinigan-Sud native, so many of his autographed jerseys are prominently displayed around the concourse. He also registered an assist.
"We were intense right at the beginning of the game and I think that's why we won the game," said Bournival in a matter-of-fact tone with a thick Québecois accent. "Everybody was going in the same direction today."
Except Edmonton, of course, who will be heading West, obviously.
Game Grade: One team really showed up. After a fun, physical start, the game got out of hand early, which led to an unfortunate finish. C-.