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For the first time in 43 years, Shawinigan, Quebec is the center of the junior hockey universe....
Anton Zlobin scored at 17:51 of overtime to give the Shawinigan Cataractes a 2-1 win over the London Knights in the Championship Game of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. This was a tight battle throughout the night with both teams trying to get chances - while also trying to avoid mistakes.
Ryan Rupert opened the scoring for the Knights at 5:42 of the first period. It was a typical goal generated by the Rupert twins and linemate Austin Watson. Some good work down low lead to the chance out front that beat Cataractes goaltender Gabriel Girard.
The home side bounced back in the second period when Zlobin scored his first goal of the game, with assists to Kirill Kabanov and Morgan Ellis.
That was the only scoring in regulation, but not without chances for both teams. The Cataractes were playing their fourth game in five nights after having to go through the tiebreaker route in the tournament. They defeated Edmonton Thursday, Saint John Friday and London Sunday to capture the Memorial Cup.
This marks the first championship for the franchise in its 43 year history. It also exorcises some demons that have been hanging over this city since 1985. During that year, Shawinigan hosted the Memorial Cup, but the championship game was moved to Drummondville - where the Cataractes lost the title game to the Prince Albert Raiders. The attendance of 5,250 was the most since Centre Bionest opened in 2008 - 55 more than the crowd for the final game of the 2009 QMJHL Championship Series vs. Drummondville.
On the other side, the London Knights are a young team who could have many of their big names back. Even heading into the OHL trade deadline there was some uncertainty as to whether the Knights would load up for this year or look towards 2013 and beyond. While they were a disappointed group after the final, they had a special season. Winning the second OHL championship in franchise history and going to overtime in the Memorial Cup Final is something that should be celebrated.
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