Bournival, Ellis fall 4-3 to Oil Kings in Memorial Cup opener

Goaltender Alex Dubeau, a Canadiens' combine invitee, made 20 saves in a losing cause on Friday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

SHAWINIGAN, QC–In front of a raucous crowd at the Centre Bionest that hadn’t seen them play for a month, the Shawinigan Cataractes opened up the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament with a nerve-ridden, abnormally bloody 4-3 loss against the champions from the Western Hockey League, the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Opening jitters got the best of both teams as Edmonton’s Kristian Pelss opened the scoring at 2:41 of the first period, after which Shawinigan countered on their second power play opportunity. Columbus prospect Michael Chaput got his club on the board with a one-timer off passes from Brandon Gormley and Canadiens’ prospect Morgan Ellis. Fellow future Hab Michael Bournival generated a pair of two-on-ones in the first period, the two teams headed into their dressing rooms tied at one.

The second period yielded nothing of note except a fight between Shawinigan’s Dillon Donnelly and Mitchell Moroz. In the late moments of the opening frame, Islanders’ draftee Kirill Kabanov got a puck to the face and left the ice after painting an eighth of its surface red with blood. He would return in the second, but after all the cleanup, the fans at the Centre Bionest would have to wait until the third period for another goal.

Goaltender Alex Dubeau, a Canadiens' combine invitee, made 20 saves in a losing cause on Friday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Photo:

It was the 2012-eligible Griffin Reinhart who broke the tie between the two clubs with an unassisted goal at 1:01, after yet another Cataractes player left the ice bleeding after a missed high-sticking call.  Martin Gernat doubled the Oil Kings’ advantage less than five minutes later and Shawinigan scrambled to recover. Anton Zlobin and Loik Poudrier combined for a chance that initially looked like it had been blown dead before the puck squeaked across the line, but video review allowed the goal to stand and the deficit was cut down to one. Then Michael Chaput punched in an unassisted goal of his own to send the home team’s fans into a frenzy, bringing the two clubs back to zero. However, that enthusiasm would be extremely shortlived as Edmonton’s Henrik Samuelsson popped in the eventual game-winning goal just half a minute later. Shawinigan would be granted a power play with 5:06 remaining in the game, but with no result, the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup to come away with a win, albeit one even they later admitted had its share of hiccups.

Tonight, the Ontario Hockey League champion London Knights and Jarred Tinordi take on Nathan Beaulieu and the defending MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs at 7 p.m. Host Shawinigan next plays on Sunday night against the Knights.

Post-game audio: