Miramichi’s storybook season comes to an end in Centennial Cup semifinals

The Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL) champion Miramichi Timberwolves had their 2023-24 season come to an end Saturday night in Oakville, Ontario with a 5-2 loss to the OJHL’s Collingwood Blues in the Centennial Cup semifinals.

Adam Rouleau was in goal for Miramichi, his third-straight start after alternating the round-robin schedule with Jack Flanagan. In goal for the Blues was Noah Pak, who was announced last week as the CJHL Goaltender of the Year.

An early penalty in the 1st period put Collingwood on the powerplay, which they converted in 59 seconds with a goal from Dylan Hudon at 6:20 for a 1-0 lead. The Blues doubled that lead at 14:23 with a goal from Sam Lockyer. Despite the 2-0 deficit at the end of the 1st period, Miramichi outshot the top-ranked team in the nation 12-10.

Collingwood came out of the gate strong in the 2nd period and doubled their lead to 4-0 with goals at 8:54 from Ethan Facchina and at 11:22 from Jack Rimmer. Miramichi would get their second powerplay of the game late in the frame and Elliott Robert converted his tournament-leading seventh goal to get the Timberwolves on the board, trailing 4-1 after 40 minutes. Assists went to Cole Foston and Timmy Porer. Shots were 17-10 Collingwood in the period.

The first half of the 3rd period was filled with penalties, three against Miramichi and one against Collingwood, but neither team could convert. With their season on the line, Miramichi cut the lead to 4-2 as Ludovic Dufort scored at 16:08 with assists to Hugo Audette and David Doucet. The goal would lead to Rouleau being pulled for the extra attacker. At 17:48, Rimmer scored his second goal of the game, this one into an empty net, to seal a 5-2 win and send Collingwood to Sunday’s Centennial Cup championship game. The final shot total was 41-32 for the Blues.

The player of the game for Miramichi was Justin David.

Heading into Sunday’s final, Elliot Robert was tied for fourth in tournament scoring with nine points. Hugo Audette had two goals and six assists. Justin David (three goals, four assists), David Doucet (two goals, five assists), and Ludovic Dufort (four goals, two assists) were also in the top-20 in tournament scoring. For goaltenders, despite starting only four games compared to five or six for most teams, Adam Rouleau had the third-most saves at 147; just two saves behind Navan”s Jaeden Nelson who has 149.