REGINA — Robert Thomas scored the winner on the power play as the Hamilton Bulldogs edged the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 3-2 on Tuesday in the Mastercard Memorial Cup round-robin finale for both teams.
The win earns the Ontario Hockey League champion at least a berth in Friday’s semifinal.
Hamilton holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Titan although still has to wait for the result of Wednesday’s matchup between the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos (0-2) and the host Regina Pats (1-1).
Nicholas Caamano and Benjamin Gleason, on the power play, also had goals for the Bulldogs (2-1).
Jeffrey Truchon-Viel and Samuel Asselin scored for Acadie-Bathurst (2-1), which lost for the first time at this year’s Canadian major junior championship.
Kaden Fulcher stopped 33 shots for the win in net as Evan Fitzpatrick turned away 31-of-34 shots in defeat.
The Titan had trouble staying out of the penalty box all night and were charged with five penalties, including a double minor. Hamilton finished the game 2 for 6 on the power play while Acadie-Bathurst failed to score on three opportunities with the man advantage.
Thomas’s winner came just over a minute into the third period with a wrist shot above Fitzpatrick’s glove.
Gleason opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 14:33 of the first with a slap shot through traffic from the point.
A big hit in Hamilton’s end led to a turnover a few minutes later and the Bulldogs capitalized at the other end with Caamano slapping one past Fitzpatrick in the slot.
Fitzpatrick was tested early and made a highlight-reel paddle save on Isaac Nurse just 36 seconds into the first, diving across his crease to make the stop.
He had to come up strong later in the period when he misplayed a puck at the side of the net that caused a turnover and stellar opportunity.
Fitzpatrick got lucky just over four minutes into the second when a one-timer from MacKenzie Entwistle went through his legs and hit the post, but stayed out.
The Titan finally got one back when Truchon-Viel was left in front where he tapped in pass from Noah Dobson into a wide-open net.
Acadie-Bathurst struck right back after Thomas’s goal when Truchon-Viel launched a cross-ice pass right on top the stick tape of Asselin. Truchon-Viel leads all tournament scorers with nine points.
Notes: Attendance at Brandt Centre was 6,072.