Brandon, Man. – It’s unlikely that Calgary Hitmen forward Tyler Shattock, from Salmon Arm B.C., and Moncton Wildcats goaltender Nicola Riopel, from St-Pie-de-Bagot, Que., would have a heck of a lot in common.
But they found something on Saturday afternoon: both were completely stunned by a strange bounce the puck took off the endboards during their game at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The play started when the puck was innocently shot around the boards, but for Shattock it was a lucky break -- the puck hit the rim at the bottom of the doors to the Zamboni entrance and fell right by Riopel’s crease.
“I think I was more shocked than anyone that it ended up right there,” said the right-winger who jumped on the puck. “I just kind of gave ’er a whack and it happened to go in the five-hole, so it probably wasn’t the prettiest goal of my career, but probably the biggest one for sure.”
The late goal gave the Hitmen a 5-4 victory in Game 2 of the tournament, the opener for both teams. The Wildcats had a 3-0 lead until Calgary mounted their comeback, so the winner was even more bitter for Riopel to have surrendered.
“He took that shot and I was kind of surprised and it went between my legs,” said a dejected Riopel.
“When you host a Memorial Cup you [should] make sure the boards are okay for everybody. It’s sad to lose a game like that.”
The Philadelphia Flyers prospect, who had spent time in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Phantoms before being sent back, had expected the puck to carry and wasn’t even aware Shattock was lurking and looking for a break.
“I was looking to see if my D-men were open and to see my options,” Riopel said. “I didn’t even see the guy from behind my net.”
Shattock concedes that he was more fortunate than anything since he says he didn’t see Riopel’s positioning in the net. When asked to describe the play or the bounce, Shattock couldn’t.
“I’ll be modest here and tell you guys that I didn’t really go for the five-hole, it was kind of a lucky break and I’m just lucky it went in,” said the recently signed St. Louis Blues prospect.
He celebrated by jumping into the glass – as a tribute to the fans -- before being mobbed by his teammates. Riopel stood in his crease, still trying to comprehend what had just happened.
Shattock couldn’t even claim any expertise with the boards and bounces at Westmen Place having missed Games 3 and 4 of the WHL’s Eastern Conference final against the Wheat Kings in Brandon with an injury. He says he wishes he could have said there had been an advantage.
“I haven’t really played in this rink too much, so I’m not familiar with it,” Shattock said. “But we definitely knew there were going to be some bounces out there.”
Hitmen leading scorer Brandon Kozun spent most of his time on the bench only taking a handful of shifts while trying to rehab from a suspected leg injury, but still – jokingly – wanted a little credit for the win. He said while he couldn’t provide the offence that made him the WHL’s top scorer, he would at least try to provide encouragement from the bench to his team while they were making their comeback.
“I was trying to be as vocal as possible,” said the L.A. Kings prospect. “I was telling the guys to keep going and trying to be a positive influence. I think I did a pretty good job of it because obviously we won the game.”
Sunaya Sapurji is the Jr. Hockey Editor at Yahoo! Sports. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Calgary Hitmen
- Nicola Riopel