THN at the Memorial Cup: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Antoine Bibeau shines

Antoine-Bibeau

LONDON, ON – Pint-sized pivot Anthony Richard was the hero for Val-d’Or, scoring on a breakaway early in double-overtime to propel the Foreurs past Edmonton 4-3. But the Quebec League champs never would have gotten the chance had it not been for goaltender Antoine Bibeau.

The 20-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs prospect stopped 47 shots during the game, building on an impressive campaign that saw him win over his teammates quickly after coming to the Foreurs just before New Year’s via trade from Charlottetown.

“He’s not only a goalie that keeps us in the game, he’s a goalie that keeps everybody calm in the room,” said captain Samuel Henley, a Colorado prospect. “Good leader, a good person and everybody likes him in the room. It didn’t take long to get used to Antoine because everyone liked him right away.”

Bibeau actually went undrafted the first year he was eligible, but Toronto snapped up the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder in the sixth round last summer. The depth pick is looking pretty solid now, as Bibeau has proven himself to be adept at handling high-pressure situations. In his last four QMJHL playoff games, he faced at least 43 shots per contest from Baie-Comeau and kicked off his Memorial Cup with a 51-save shutout of the host London Knights.

“It’s good to face a lot of pucks,” Bibeau said. “It’s easier to get focused and I like that. It is hard to win games when facing 50 shots, so we have to do a better job, but I feel we did that in overtime.”

Bibeau is a pretty hardcore butterfly goaltender, dropping to his knees in most situations – though he did make one of his best stops on the night when he came out and challenged 2014 draft prospect Brett Pollock, making a nice blocker save. Still, the 20-year-old netminder knows his technique works for him.

“I’m a tall guy,” he said. “When I go down in the butterfly, I can still cover the top of the net, so that’s one of my strengths.”

He also blocked a lot of shots from the Oil Kings by being square with the puck, tracking it well on an evening where initially Edmonton could have run away with things: The Oil Kings built up a quick 2-0 lead before the Foreurs chased them down.

Val-d’Or now waits for an opponent in the semi-final and it could be Edmonton again. The Oil Kings are hoping London falls to the Storm Wednesday, as a Guelph win would give Edmonton an automatic rematch with the Foreurs. A London win would necessitate a tiebreak game on Thursday.

“We’re the biggest Guelph Storm fans here right now,” said Oil Kings center Curtis Lazar.