Road to the Memorial Cup: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

We’re on the road to the Memorial Cup and we can see the destination quickly approaching with the tournament kicking off on Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over this week, we’ll take a look at all of the teams that have qualified for the Memorial Cup. Today we’re kicking that off with the QMJHL-Champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Pre-Season Outlook

Coming into this season, the Huskies were seen as one of the top teams in the QMJHL and they did not disappoint. The Huskies finished third in the QMJHL in the 2017-18 season with a 42-17-6 record and most pundits expected a similar result for the Huskies in the 2018-19 season.

Samuel Harvey (Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)

The Huskies have recently been QMJHL champions, having earned a berth in the 2016 Memorial Cup, where they lost in the final to the OHL’s London Knights. Peter Abbandonato (68 GP, 29 G, 82 A this season), Jacob Neveu (67 GP, 2 G, 16 A), and Samuel Harvey (43 GP, 2.08 GAA and .926 save percentage) all played in the 2015-16 playoffs for the Huskies and are still with the team.

Mario Pouliot, who was the head coach of last year’s Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan, joined the Huskies in the off-season to be the new Head Coach and General Manager after Gilles Bouchard left the team to join the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Bouchard had some previous familiarity with the Huskies having been an assistant coach with the team for parts of three seasons.

In the pre-season, the Huskies posted a 5-2-0-1 record to finish atop the QMJHL.

Regular Season 

The Huskies had a historic regular season with a 59-8-1 record. The highlight of the season was a 25-game winning streak which lasted from December 31, 2018, until March 8, 2019. The win-streak tied a 45-year-old record set by the 1973-74 Sorel Eperviers. Although the Huskies weren’t able to break that record, they did set the record for most wins in a regular season with 59. The previous record was held by the aforementioned Eperviers team, 1978-79 Trois-Rivieres Draveurs, 2010-11 Saint John Sea Dogs and the 2012-13 Halifax Mooseheads.

Joel Teadale (photo-QMJHL)

The Huskies were led in points by Abbandonato who had a league-leading 111 points. Joel Teasdale led the team in goals with 43 after joining the Huskies in a mid-season trade with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

In goal,  Harvey received the lion’s share of the starts playing in 43 games and picking up 35 wins and eight losses with a 2.08 GAA and 0.926 save percentage and four shutouts. Harvey tied for the league lead in wins and led the league in GAA and save percentage among starting goalies.

The Huskies also have a strong back-up in Zachary Emond who appeared in 27 games this year recording 24 wins and just three losses with a 1.73 GAA and .932 save percentage. His seven shutouts were good enough to lead the league in that category.

Noah Dobson (NHL.com)

Acquisitions

The Huskies made three major acquisitions throughout the season, the biggest of which saw the team bring in Noah Dobson from last year’s Memorial Cup Champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Dobson, who stands at six-foot-three and weighs in at 185 pounds is a first-round pick of the NHL’s New York Islanders. In 28 regular season games since the trade, Dobson had six goals 30 assists. The Huskies sent three first round picks and a second-round pick in 2019 to the Titan in exchange for Dobson.

In a trade with the Blainsville-Boisbriand Armada, the Huskies brought in their goal-scoring leader as Teasdale joined the team in a trade that saw them give up 17-year-old Maximilien Ledoux, a first-round pick in 2021, a third-round pick in 2019 and three fourth-round picks. Teasdale had 24 goals and 18 assists in 29 games with the Huskies.

The other notable acquisition saw Louis-Filip Cote rejoin the Huskies after he was traded to the Quebec Remparts in the 2015-16 season. In exchange for Cote, the Huskies shipped out 17-year-old Romain Rodzinski, a 2019 second-round pick, a third-round pick in 2020 and a fifth-round pick in 2021.

Playoffs

Round One

After clinching the regular season title, the Huskies faced the Shawinigan Cataractes in the first round defeating them in six games. In Game 1, the Huskies picked up a 4-1 win with Justin Bergeron and Jakub Lauko each picking up a goal and an assist.

Justin Bergeron (Getty Mimages)

The Cataractes rebounded in Game 2 with a 4-3 victory. William Cyr and Abbandonato led the way for Rouyn-Noranda with a goal and an assist each.

Game 3 saw Harvey post a 22-save shutout in a game the Huskies won by a score of 5-0. Abbandonato added three assists.

The Cataractes tied the series in Game 4 in another tight game with another 4-3 win. Teasdale and Dobson each had two points for Rouyn-Noranda.

In Game 5, the Huskies came alive with an offensive outburst that saw them put seven goals in the Cataractes net. Rafael Harvey-Pinard had a hat-trick and Abbandonato had four assists. The Cataractes responded with three goals in the loss.

The Huskies sealed the deal in Game 6 with another offensive outburst, this time putting eight goals in past Shawinigan’s goaltender. Abbandonato had another big game with a goal and two assists.

Round Two

In Round Two, the Huskies faced the Victoriaville Tigres sweeping them in four games. Harvey posted his second shutout of the playoffs in Game One. Alex Beaucage had two assists for the Huskies as they blew past the Tigres 4-0.

Alex Beaucage (photo-Jean Levasseur)

Game 2 was the closest game in the series with the Huskies edging out Victoriaville 3-1. Dobson potted a goal and an assist in the win for Rouyn-Noranda.

In Game 3 Rouyn-Noranda blew the doors off Victoriaville with an 8-0 shutout victory for Harvey’s third of the playoffs. The goalie from Alma, Quebec made 20 saves while Cote had a goal and three assists as the Huskies took a 3-0 series lead.

The final game of the series was another blowout with the scoreboard reading 6-2 in Rouyn-Noranda’s favour. Teasdale had a hat-trick and an assist while Abbandonato matched that point total with a goal and three assists.

Round Three

In the Conference Final, the Huskies faced off with the Rimouski Oceanic and once again swept their opponent in four straight. The Huskies played the entire series without their points-leader Abbandonato who missed the series due to a mononucleosis diagnosis.

Bergeron led the team in points in Game 1 with three assists in a 5-1 victory. Teasdale also added two goals.

Felix Bibeau (photo-Jean Lapointe)

Game 2 was a real team effort as the Huskies narrowly defeated Rimouski 4-3. Felix Bibeau had two goals while Bergeron and Teasdale each added two assists and Dobson had a goal an assist.

In Game 3, Dobson had his biggest offensive game of the playoffs with two goals. Teasdale continued his hot playoffs with three assists in the win which ended 5-2.

The Huskies doubled up Rimouski 6-3 in the final game of the championship series. Bibeau had his second multi-goal game of the series with two goals.

Championship Series

Rouyn Noranda’s opponent in the Championship Series was the Halifax Mooseheads, which meant regardless of the result of the series, both teams would be staying in Halifax for the Memorial Cup. However just because the Huskies had booked their spot in the Memorial Cup, that didn’t mean the Huskies didn’t want to take home another QMJHL Championship, which they did. defeating the Mooseheads in six games.

Abbandonato was absent again for the Huskies in Game 1 but it didn’t stop them from picking up the victory as Harvey-Pinard and Bibeau each had another multi-goal game with two goals and an assist for both of them.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard (photo-Hugo Lacroix)

In Game T2, the Huskies played their first overtime game of the playoffs as Mooseheads tied up the series with a 5-4 win in double overtime. Abbandonato made his return to the Huskies with an assist while Harvey-Pinard and Bibeau matched each other’s stat lines once again with a goal and two assists.

Teasdale had two goals and Harvey-Pinard had two assists in Game Three as the Huskies regained their series lead with a 5-2 triumph over the Mooseheads.

Game 4 saw the Huskies suffer their biggest loss of the playoffs as they were only able to get one goal past Mooseheads goaltender Alexis Gravel while Halifax scored five on Harvey.

The Huskies rebounded once again in Game 5 with six goals. Harvey-Pinard had his second hat-trick of the playoffs and Abbandonato showed that he is completely recovered from his battle with mono with a goal and two assists.

Pater Abbandonato (photo-CHL.ca)

In the championship-clinching victory, Harvey was a brick wall for the Huskies stopping all 28 shots he faced for his league-leading fourth shutout of the 2019 playoffs. Harvey-Pinard, a name you’ve now become quite familiar with, had another multi-goal game to bring his playoff total to 13.

At the conclusion of the 2019 QMJHL playoffs, Teasdale led the league with 34 points and tied with Bibeau for second in goals with 14. Abbandonato and Dobson tied for the league lead in assists with 21. Harvey leads the league in every goaltender category, excluding save percentage where he finished second.

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