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Top Canadiens Prospects Punch Their Ticket To Memorial Cup Final

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens will have two of their top prospects in the Memorial Cup Final after a heroic overtime effort from Jan Mysak.

The Hamilton Bulldogs and Shawinigan Cataractes did battle in the Memorial Cup Semi-Final, and it did not disappoint. Top CHL prospects like Mason McTavish, Mavrik Bourque, Xavier Bourgault and Arber Xhekaj played a tremendous game; going back and forth and playing a high-tempo brand of hockey.

The two powerhouse teams from the OHL and QMJHL traded goals all game and ultimately finished regulation time tied 3-3, needing overtime to decide who would go on to the championship game. Despite playing a very mature and sound defensive game, it was Jan Mysak, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2nd round pick in 2020, who would play the hero. Mysak was battling in the front of the net while the Bulldogs played the cycle game, and was adeptly able to redirect Nathan Staois’ point shot for the game-winner.

Tasked with a more defensive role on the juggernaut Bulldogs squad, Mysak has been able to score his goals in big games, all of which were in series or championship-clinching situations. The Canadiens’ prospect hasn’t been an offensive force during these playoffs, as he’s currently playing through injuries, but he’s found ways to be as valuable as can be and came up big on Monday night.

On the backend, Xhekaj played a very punishing and responsible game. The Montreal Canadiens prospect has been a revelation this year due to his exceptional progression throughout the season; earning him praise from draft experts like Craig Button along the way. He’s continued to refine his game, and it was put on full display during the last two months.

Xhekaj made it nearly impossible to enter the zone while he was on the ice for the Cataractes, and, if they were able to get the puck by him for a dump-and-chase, they were met with consequences along the boards.

Xhekaj was also effective in the offensive zone; pinching deep into the zone to force offensive plays and open up passing lanes. On the tying goal from Logan Morrison to send the game to overtime, it was Xhekaj who called for a pass deep in the Cataractes zone. By opening up the ice, Xhekaj was able to push the puck to Ryan Winterton, who immediately found Logan Morrison alone in the slot for the quick goal.

The Bulldogs are now off to the Memorial Cup Final to do battle with the tournament hosts, Saint John Sea Dogs, on Wednesday night.

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