2023 u18 club nationals apr30 hst que final

Men’s U18 Club Nationals Recap April 30, 2023 U18 Club Nationals

Gaulois de Saint-Hyacinthe take home silver medal; Saskatoon Blazers win bronze

April 30, 2023

SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. – The Blizzard du Séminaire Saint-François have won the 2023 Men’s U18 National Club Championship, defeating the Gaulois de Saint-Hyacinthe 3-2 in the gold medal game Sunday night at Stade L.-P.-Gaucher.

Marc-Olivier Roy (Boischâtel, Que.) scored two goals in a span of 1:46 midway through the third period to give the Blizzard the lead for good and give the Quebec representatives their first national title since 2001 (when they were known as the Gouverneurs de Ste-Foy) and their fifth overall, tying them with Notre Dame Hounds for the most ever.

It marked the first time since 2000 (Magog vs. Montréal-Bourassa) that two teams from the province faced off in the gold medal game, and the first time since that Ste-Foy triumph that a team from Quebec has won the national title.

The game stayed scoreless through the first 40 minutes thanks to the play of goaltendersRaphaël Précourt (Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que.) and Rémi Cloutier (Mont-Laurier, Que.), who combined for 51 saves in the first two periods.

The floodgates opened in the third with five goals in just over nine minutes. Noah McKinnon (Val-Bélair, Que.) started the scoring for Saint-François just 30 seconds into the final frame, before tournament MVP Émile Guité tied it for the Gaulois at 6:46. Roy restored the Blizzard lead at 8:01, and put them up for good at 9:47, just 26 seconds after Dominic Pilote (Saint-Basil-le-Grande, Que.) had equalized again for the hosts.

“It was a close game, as expected. We kept things simple and worked hard all game, which made the difference” Roy said. “We are very proud of this win. We had played the Gaulois previously, and knew we could come in here in Saint-Hyacinthe and win the whole thing. It was an unforgettable moment for our group, for sure.”

Both goaltenders were outstanding – Précourt finished with 42 saves, while Cloutier made 29 stops.

“We had so many guys step up in the big moments. I am so proud of this group,” said Blizzard head coach Mathieu Turcotte. “We had an amazing season where we grew as a team despite facing a lot of uphill battles. And now, our players are champions for life. This is a tough tournament to play in, both physically and mentally. It is hard on players as well as on coaches, but for many of our guys, this was the best experience of their lives, an incredible event for everyone.

“Being able to win in our home province is truly special. The players were aware our team had been the last to win the whole thing [in 2001]. Our group has a lot of character, and it showed today. We have a first-class organization here, and there’s reason to be proud.”

Saskatoon downs Toronto in shootout to win bronze

Earlier in the day, the Saskatoon Blazers edged the Toronto Jr. Canadiens 2-1 in a shootout to win the bronze medal.

Top Forward recipient Cole Reschny (Macklin, Sask.) and Nathan Gaymes (Toronto, Ont.) traded goals in regulation time before Lee Shurgot (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Tyson Buczkowski (Saskatoon, Sask.) converted for the Blazers in the shootout. Saskatoon netminder Grayson Malinoski (Saskatoon, Sask.) stopped all four shooters he faced after making 32 saves in regulation and overtime.

“It feels fantastic,” said Blazers head coach Troy Walkington. “We came here and we wanted to win gold. We were disappointed after our [semifinal loss to the Gaulois] last night, and this must be the toughest game of the tournament to play, after playing the last game last night, and not quite reaching your expectations, so it is nice to come away with bronze.

“We won a medal; we weathered the storm early, but we certainly got back to the way we wanted to play, so it feels good. We ended our season on a high note. This is the last possible day to play, what more can we ask for, you come to the national championship, you win a medal, you play in the last possible day of the season, so almost perfect.”

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