May 28, 2012

Knight's junior career ends with loss in Memorial Cup final

By Jesse Connolly

After four strong years with the London Knights, Jared Knight’s junior career ended on a sour note on Sunday. Anton Zlobin scored 17:51 into overtime, giving the Shawinigan Cataractes a 2-1 victory over the Knights in the Memorial Cup final.  

Jared Knight's squad fell short of winning their second Memorial Cup. (Getty Images)

London may not have been a heavy favorite, having lost to the Cataractes by a score of 6-2 earlier in the tournament, but they were certainly the more rested squad. The Knights had last played five days prior, defeating the champions of the WHL, the Edmonton Oil Kings, 4-1.

Shawinigan, meanwhile, had a much tougher road to the final. After falling 4-1 to the Saint John Sea Dogs on Wednesday, they regrouped for a 6-1 win over Edmonton on Friday and thrashed the Sea Dogs 7-4 on Friday, setting up their battle with the Knights on Sunday.

Just the ninth host team to ever win the tournament and the first since Bruins forward Milan Lucic’s Vancouver Giants did so back in 2007, the Cataractes got superb netminding from Gabriel Girard, who made 35 stops in the championship game.

Girard made a flurry of big saves in the third period, a sequence that included robbing Knight on a one-timer with 9:13 left in regulation and the game tied 1-1.

This year’s OHL champions, the Knights fell just short of capturing their second Memorial Cup. The team won it all back in 2005 thanks largely to high-scoring forward Corey Perry, who would go on to win the Hart Trophy as MVP of the NHL in 2011.

Tournament notes

Jared Knight finished the tournament with just one point (an assist) in four games, as he was hampered by an ankle injury. He had eight points in 15 games during the OHL playoffs. Knight, 20, wraps up his OHL career with 102 goals in 250 games for London. …

After earning MVP honors for the QMJHL playoffs, Charlie Coyle (East Weymouth, Mass.) had a solid but unspectacular showing in the Memorial Cup tournament, racking up four points (all assists) in four games. The former Boston University standout had 34 points in 17 QMJHL playoff games for the Saint John Sea Dogs. Coyle, originally drafted by San Jose in 2010 before having his rights sent to Minnesota via trade, is expected to turn pro next season. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.