Francis Perron (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have captured their first QMJHL title in the team’s 20-year history. The President Cup victory punches the Huskies’ ticket to the Memorial Cup for the first time in team history, and they were paced by Francis Perron, who was named playoff MVP with 12 goals and 33 points in 18 games.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies ran roughshod through the post-season after a dominant end to the regular season, and now the Huskies have captured the first President Cup championship in the 20 years the franchise has spent in Rouyn-Noranda. Making it that much sweeter, they captured the title in front of the home crowd at the IAMGOLD Arena.
Thursday night in Rouyn-Noranda, the Huskies dominated the visiting Shawinigan Cataractes in Game 5 to take a 4-1 series victory. The Huskies got out to an early lead when Anthony-John Greer scored less than two minutes into the contest on a power play, and before the first period was out Rouyn-Noranda had added goals from Timo Meier, Martins Dzierkals and Philippe Myers to take a 4-1 lead into first intermission. It didn’t stop there, as the Huskies added three more tallies to lock up the QMJHL title and skate away with a 7-2 victory in the series-deciding game.
It’s not exactly a shocking victory for Rouyn-Noranda given that the team finished with a league-best 113 points during the regular season, but the way the Huskies got to their first title was incredibly impressive. Beginning Feb. 19, the Huskies won 14 straight regular season contests before sweeping their first-round series against the Drummondville Voltigeurs. It wasn’t until Game 1 of the second round, almost two months from their last loss, that the Huskies finally had their 18-game winning streak broken.
The Game 1 loss in the second round to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada was only a hiccup en route to a five-game series victory, though. The Huskies would go on to get through the Moncton Wildcats in six games before a decisive five-game President Cup victory.
The Huskies were paced to their first playoff title by the play of 20-year-old Francis Perron, a seventh-round, 190th overall draft pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2014. Perron finished second in regular season scoring with an outstanding 41 goals and 108 points in 62 games, and followed that up with a 12-goal, 33-point post-season performance for the ages. Perron was named the regular season MVP and was awarded the Guy Lafleur Trophy as playoff MVP, making him the first player to win both awards since then-Halifax Moosehead Jonathan Drouin managed the feat in 2013.
And though Perron won the MVP, it can’t be understated just how impressive Rouyn-Noranda goaltender Chase Marchand was in the post-season. The 20-year-old undrafted netminder led the playoffs with a 1.35 goals-against average, .946 save percentage, six shutouts and a record of 15-3. No other goaltender had numbers even close to as impressive as Marchand’s, who very easily could have been named playoff MVP.
The Huskies become the second league-winning team to join the Memorial Cup field for the upcoming tournament in Red Deer, Alta., which begins in less than a week, on May 19. It will be the first time the Huskies compete in the Memorial Cup.
The OHL’s London Knights punched their ticket to the Memorial Cup with a championship victory on Wednesday night. The WHL’s Red Deer Rebels will also participate as the host team, but the WHL championship entry into the tournament is yet to be decided. The Brandon Wheat Kings have a 3-1 edge over the Seattle Thunderbirds in the series.