The Memorial Cup has come to an end on a winning note for one Montreal prospect as Michael McCarron’s Oshawa Generals took home the trophy. Here’s a look back at the tournament from a Canadiens perspective.
Zach Fucale (Quebec)
The tournament got off to a good start for the veteran netminder as he was quite sharp in a 3-2 win over Kelowna, earning first star honours. He took the loss the next game against the Generals but was peppered with 50 shots (allowing five goals). It wasn’t his best outing but he didn’t play poorly either.
Then came the Oceanic, the team that shocked the Remparts by coming back to win the QMJHL title. Rimouski scored four or more goals on Fucale four times in that series, a trend that continued in the final game of the round robin. No one from Quebec played well in that game, one that ended 4-0.
Fucale and the Remparts were much better in the tie-breaker game played the following night, also against the Oceanic. Fucale allowed just two goals on 32 shots and the host team lived to play another day with a 5-2 victory.
Unfortunately for Quebec, they were forced to play their third game in three nights in the semi-final (a side effect of giving yourself the easiest schedule in the opening round) against the Rockets. While he was hung out to dry by a lack of effort from the Remparts, Fucale did not play particularly well, failing to make key stops that would have kept them in the game. In the end, it was a laugher and Montreal’s goalie prospect allowed nine goals in a 9-3 loss. To put that in perspective, Fucale had never allowed more than seven goals in a single game before that (and that only happened in his rookie season).
Tournament Grade: C: As someone who was brought in primarily for this tournament, his play overall has to be considered a disappointment. Yes, Fucale had a couple of good games but two out of five isn’t good enough. His numbers are skewed somewhat by that ugly loss at the end where the entire team quit but they’re still not the greatest even if you remove that game altogether. It’s a tough end to what was a stellar junior career.
Final Stats: 5 GP, 2-2-1 record, 4.75 GAA, .872 SV%
Michael McCarron (Oshawa)
After not really doing much in his Memorial Cup debut last year with London, McCarron was looking to have much more of an impact this time around. He certainly succeeded in accomplishing that.
His tournament opened against Rimouski where he spent a large portion of the game on the third line. He still made an impact though both on the scoresheet (picking up an assist) and in the fisticuff department going toe-to-toe with Samuel Morin, a Philadelphia first round pick. McCarron’s performance in that game earned him a promotion to the second line alongside 2014 5th overall pick Michael Dal Colle for the rest of the tourney.
Oshawa’s second game is where McCarron played his best, a contest that just happened to be against his fellow Hab prospect in Fucale. He was first star in the game, a 5-4 OT win, picking up two points and a whopping ten shots on goal (20% of the Generals’ total shots).
Then came the first of two games against the Rockets. In the first one (their final round robin game), McCarron was largely used in a shutdown role against eventual-MVP Leon Draisaitl. He didn’t wind up generating much in the way of chances as a result but made an impact physically in a 2-1 victory.
In Sunday’s final, McCarron wasn’t his sharpest but still made an impact. He led the Generals in shots and hits in the game and had a couple of good chances, including one late in the third that could have sealed it before OT. Oshawa did, however, win early in the OT, their second straight 2-1 victory.
Tournament Grade: A-: Expectations were somewhat high but I don’t think there are many (if any) who were disappointed with McCarron’s performance. He played with a physical edge, was aggressive with his shot, and played well on the defensive side of the puck. I wouldn’t go pencilling him into Montreal’s lineup just yet though as he’s going to need time in the AHL to work on his offensive game at least.
Final Stats: 4 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -1 rating, 7 PIMS, 20 shots, 19 hits