LONDON, Ontario - Outside of an early assist by Nick Ebert, no Los Angeles Kings prospects found the scoresheet on this night. But it mattered little to the Guelph Storm as, thanks in large part to an explosive opening period, the OHL Champs convincingly defeated the Val d'Or Foreurs by a score of 6-3 to improve to 2-0 in the 2014 Memorial Cup and, more importantly, booked their ticket to Sunday's Memorial Cup Final.
Like the Storm, the QMJHL Champion Foreurs entered Monday night's contest 1-0 on the tournament, thanks to their 1-0 win over the host London Knights on Friday. In that game, Val d'Or netminder Antoine Bilbeau made 51 saves to preserve the shutout. On Monday, however, the Leafs prospect wasn't as fortunate.
Just 59 seconds into the contest, Kerby Rychel scored his third of the tournament to make it 1-0 Guelph. Zack Mitchell then scored for the Storm at the four-minute mark before Dallas Stars prospect Jason Dickinson made a great individual effort to make it 3-0 just 1:50 later.
At the 8:13 mark of the second, Pius Suter scored his first of the tournament to give Guelph a 4-0 lead. This game was getting ugly - but not so fast.
At the 11:59 mark of the middle frame, Randy Gazzola put the Foreurs on the board before Timotej Salle cut the deficit in half just 56 seconds later. It appeared as if Val d'Or was mounting a comeback. But again, not so fast.
With 3:56 remaining in the second, Guelph's Robby Fabbri scored to make it 5-2. Then, with just eight seconds to go in the frame, Tyler Bertuzzi potted his third of the tourney to regain the Storm's four-goal cushion. With that, Antoine Bilbeau's night was over, having allowed six goals on 36 shots.
Anthony Beauregard was able to cut the Val d'Or deficit in half in the third but it was way too little, way too late for the QMJHL Champs as they fall to 1-1 entering a very pivotal matchup with thw 1-1 Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday.
As for the Guelph Storm, they wrap up their round-robin schedule on Wednesday against the hosts, the 0-2 London Knights. Of course, while no one should expect a lacklustre performance from the OHL Champs on Wednesday, they will enter said contest with the peace of mind knowing that they have officially booked a spot in Sunday's Memorial Cup Final.
As for Nick Ebert, in addition to collecting an assist, the Kings' 7th-round pick in 2012 finished the evening with a +4 rating. Neither Zac Leslie nor Justin Auger were effective on this night but no matter as the Storm are heading to their first tournament championship in 16 years.