YOUNG NATIONALS OUTLAST CANTONNIERS, WIN SECOND TELUS CUP
JASON LA ROSE
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Joseph Martino was the hero at 1:31 of the second overtime, giving the Toronto Young Nationals a 2-1 win over the previously-unbeaten Cantonniers de Magog on Sunday night and their second TELUS Cup.
Martino took a feed from Ethan Cohen and roofed a shot past Cantonniers goaltender Olivier Adam to get the Young Nationals a championship to match the one they won in 2015.
They are just the 10th team in the 46-year history of Canada’s National Midget Championship to win multiple national titles, and the first to do it from the Central Region.
Martino’s goal made a winner out of Toronto goaltender James Gray, who was absolutely spectacular in a 49-save performance.
Magog, which was looking to become just the seventh team to go a perfect 7-0, carried the play early, outshooting the Young Nationals 18-7 in the first period, but Gray kept the game scoreless for much of the opening frame.
The Cantonniers finally solved the netminder with 1:19 left in the first when Justin Robidas – who finished with a tournament-leading 13 points – deposited an Isaac Belliveau rebound in close for a 1-0 lead.
They held the Toronto offence at bay for most of the second period, holding the Young Nationals to single digits in shots on goal until the 12-minute mark of the middle stanza.
But Gray was up to the task again, keeping it a one-goal game with 14 saves in the period.
His team finally rewarded him with a goal six minutes into the third period; Joshua Sinanan won a face-off back to Thomas Harbour, and his quick shot snuck under the arm of Adam to even things up at 1-1.
Toronto actually held a 20-18 edge in shots on from the start of the final frame on, but Gray and Adam went save for save until Martino put an end to the proceedings early in the second extra period.
Not surprisingly, Adam (.954) and Gray (.947) finished one-two in save percentage among goaltenders who played more than two games.
The Cantonniers are the fourth team to lose in the gold medal game in back-to-back years, joining the 1982-83 Gouverneurs de Sainte-Foy, 1994-95 Red Deer Chiefs and 2014-15 Grenadiers de Châteauguay, who, ironically, lost their second final to the Young Nationals.
The loss also extends Quebec’s national title drought to 18 years despite appearing in six of the last eight gold medal games.
The 2020 TELUS Cup will be hosted by the Gaulois de Saint-Hyacinthe of the Ligue de hockey midget AAA du Québec.