Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin were too much for the rest of the field at the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre.
The two combined for eight goals and 14 assists in four games in leading the QMJHL-championship Halifax Mooseheads to the franchise’s first national championship.
“They like playing in big games,” Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharme told reporters after his club had beaten the Portland Winterhawks, 6-4, in the championship final. “Those guys like facing big teams and big moments and big challenges. They just showed that they’re big-time players.”
There were 11,488 fans at the final and they watched as MacKinnon struck for three goals and added two assists, while Drouin drew assists on each of Halifax’s first five goals.
That put the cap on quite a season for the Mooseheads. They had enjoyed a 120-point regular season (58-6-4), then went on a 16-1 run through the playoffs.
That got them to Saskatoon, along with the host Blades, the Winterhawks and the London Knights.
The tournament opened on May 17 with the Knights beating the Blades, 3-2, on Nikita Zadorov’s power-play goal at 5:45 of the third period.
The next day, the Mooseheads, behind three goals from MacKinnon, dumped the Winterhawks, 7-4.
On May 19, the Blades, with Matej Stransky scoring twice, bounced the Mooseheads, 5-2.
When Portland beat London, 6-3, on May 20 all four teams were 1-1, only the second time that had happened. (The first time was in 2012 in Shawinigan.)
In the last two round-robin games, Halifax got three goals from Martin Frk in whipping London, 9-2, and Portland doubled Saskatoon, 4-2.
When it all shook out, Halifax had a berth in the final and Portland was into the semifinal. That left London and Saskatoon in a May 23 tiebreaker, which the Knights won, 6-1, behind 32 saves from Jake Paterson.
On May 24, the Winterhawks scored a 2-1 victory over the Knights, winning on Ty Rattie’s fifth goal of the tournament, at 8:32 of the third period, and 34 stops from Mac Carruth.
In the final, the Mooseheads led 3-0 in the first period, before the Winterhawks scored twice. MacKinnon and Konrad Abeltshauser, with his second goal, restored Halifax’s three-goal lead in the third period, only to have Portland cut the deficit to one. MacKinnon iced it with his third goal of the game, into an empty net, at 19:37. Rattie finished with a goal and three assists for Portland.
Ducharme saw a lot of magic from MacKinnon and Drouin during the season. So where did this game rank?
“We’ll rank it No. 1, right?” Ducharme said. “Because of the outcome, because of the meaning of the game — you can’t have it bigger than that. They were great tonight.”
The Mooseheads were the third straight QMJHL team to win the Memorial Cup.
2013 Halifax Mooseheads:
Konrad Abeltshauser, Liam Alcalde, Brent Andrews, Darcy Ashley, Brennan Bailey, Dominic Beauchemin, Matthew Boudreau, Luca Ciampini, Chris Clarke, Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Duke, Ryan Falkenham, Stefan Fournier, Martin Frk, Zach Fucale, Jordan Kennedy, Austyn Hardie, Jonathan Lacroix-Courville, Trey Lewis, Max Lindsay, Brian Lovell, Stephen MacAulay, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Murphy, Andrew Ryan, Mackenzie Weegar, Cam Russell (Manager), Dominique Ducharme (Coach).
NHL: MacKinnon won the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year following the 2013-14 season, becoming the youngest player to ever win the award and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2016 and 2017.