By Aaron Bell
Going into the 2006 MasterCard Memorial Cup, the Quebec Remparts knew that they had been given a second chance.
Just days before, the Remparts had lost a tough six-game QMJHL championship final series to the Moncton Wildcats. But with the Wildcats already having a berth in the tournament as the host team, the Remparts were also in the tournament, but were certainly considered an underdog.
That didn’t matter much to Patrick Roy.
The Remparts owner, GM and now rookie coach was in the Memorial Cup for the first time and to make matters worse, he found himself matched up against three other coaches that all had Memorial Cup experience.
Ted Nolan, who won the Memorial Cup with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and was a former NHL coach of the year, guided the Wildcats. Dick Todd returned to the Peterborough Petes after a long stint in the NHL and guided them to the OHL championship while Don Hay, who helped the Kamloops Blazers win back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1994 and 1995, was behind the bench for the WHL champion Vancouver Giants.
But Roy had lots of championship experience of his own. He won four Stanley Cups during his 18-year Hall of Fame NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche and obviously picked up some winning habits along the way.
The Remparts opened the tournament with a 3-2 loss to the Petes but rebounded with a 6-3 win over the Giants two days later. The final round robin game was a re-match of the QMJHL final and the winner would advance directly to the championship game.
Before the game, Roy questioned Moncton’s goaltending and predicted an easy win for the Remparts. It didn’t quite work out that way but the Remparts edged out a 4-3 victory that put them one win away from the national title.
The Wildcats were determined to get another shot at the Remparts in the championship game and knocked the Giants out of the tournament with a 3-1 win in the semi-final to set up the first all-QMJHL championship game in the history of the tournament.
Alexander Radulov was the lynchpin to the Remparts’ offence all season long and continued that trend in the national championship tournament.
Radulov, who was awarded the CHL’s player of the year trophy during the tournament, scored twice and added three assists in a dominant performance that paced the Remparts to a 6-2 win in the championship game.
“Everybody had a big game, not just me,” Radulov said after the championship game. “I scored – I had five points – but it doesn’t matter. Our goalie played an unbelievable game, our defense played. Everybody worked for that and now we are here and we won.”
The Remparts became the first team in the history of the tournament to win the championship despite not being either a league champion or the host team.
In the end Roy’s championship experience from his playing days outweighed any perception about his lack of coaching experience. The rookie ended up hoisting the Cup.
“You know, he gave us that thought that we can win,” Radulov said. “He won four Stanley Cups and now he wins a Memorial Cup. He’s a winner. Maybe he’s a rookie as a coach and (had) no experience (but) that’s why he wanted to win, and he brought it to us, to our team.”