Knights Fall 1-0 In Cup Opener
The Mastercard Memorial Cup opened up in a tight fashion with London falling 1-0 in their home rink to the Val d’Or Foreurs. 51 shots weren’t enough for the Knights who struggled to convert their chances despite heavily out shooting their opponent.
The struggle to find the net frustrated the usually high powered Knights offence. Optimism in the third turned into more frustration when Bo Horvat was stopped on a penalty shot. The Vancouver Canucks prospect felt his team looked a bit rusty.
“We haven’t played in a game situation for a bit but there’s no excuses, we need to concentrate and bury our chances,” says Horvat.
The Knights had been off 34 days before the loss.
Anthony Mantha scored the lone goal of the game, showing off his speed to create space for himself and then using his reach to tuck the puck around Knight’s goalie Anthony Stolarz. The first goal of the tournament was Mantha’s 82nd of the season in a Foreurs shirt.
On top of missed chances by London, they faced a hot goalie in Antoine Bibeau who posted a shutout for the QMJHL champs.
“(Bibeau) played an unbelievable game tonight, cant take anything away from him there, he stoned us,” says Horvat.
That shutout was almost ended with a scare in the first period. A 200 ft clearance by Nikita Zadorov caught Bibeau off guard, forcing him to react quick to prevent the puck from going between his legs.
“You can be in a bit of a daze when the puck is that far away.” says Stolarz regarding the play, which started from a face off in front of him.
Stolarz played solid himself, stopping 27 shots including a pair of breakaways from goalscorer Mantha.
“Coming in and seeing the cup and the ceremony really gets you amped up!” says Stolarz, who adds despite the loss, the same effort is what his team needs to salvage the rest of the tournament.
Both teams have Saturday off. The OHL champion Guelph Storm take on the Edmonton Oil Kings, this year’s WHL champion.
– With files from Tom Fraser.