1996 – Granby Predateurs

When the 1996 Memorial Cup opened in Peterborough’s Memorial Centre, a Quebec-based team hadn’t won it since 1971 when Guy Lafleur led the Quebec Remparts to the title.

Would the Granby Predateurs be able to change that?

Frank Bonello, the head scout with the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, said Granby “is about the best team Quebec has sent in recent years.”

The 1996 tournament also featured the Brandon Wheat Kings, Guelph Storm and the host Petes.

The Morrissette brothers, who had owned the QMJHL’s Laval Titan, now owned the Granby franchise. Jean-Claude Morrissette had gotten into trouble during the 1994 tournament, which was held in Laval. Then the Titan’s general manager, he found himself on the hotseat after referee Luc Lachapelle was assaulted in a parking lot after a 5-4 loss to the Kamloops Blazers. Among other things, Morrissette was suspended from all CHL activity through the 1997 Memorial Cup. But on the eve of the 1996 tournament, CHL president Ed Chynoweth announced that the Memorial Cup’s discipline committee had lifted Morrissette’s suspension.

“I did something wrong and I paid very dearly for it,” Morrissette told The Brandon Sun. “As far as my reputation and everything goes, I suffered greatly. But I felt I was treated justly.”

On May 19, the Predateurs ended the drought, beating the Petes, 4-0, in a game that was stopped three times in the second period and on 10 occasions in the third to allow players to skate around in an attempt to disperse fog caused by hot-and-humid conditions.

“It was dangerous,” Granby head coach Michel Therrien said.

Granby’s Daniel Goneau, who scored once, added: “It was awful. We didn’t like it; they didn’t like it.”

Frederic Deschenes stopped 34 shots as he became the first goaltender to post two shutouts in one tournament — he had beaten the Storm 8-0 in the May 11 opener — and the first to post a shutout in the championship game.

As for ending the drought . . .

“It was 25 years,” defenceman Francis Bouillon said. “When I took the trophy in my arms, I saw Guy Lafleur right away. I said to myself, ‘This is it, it’s not a dream any more.’ ”

In the May 12 games, Brandon edged Guelph, 2-1, and Peterborough doubled Granby, 6-3.

On May 14, Brandon got past Peterborough, 3-2, on Peter Schaefer’s goal at 3:58 of overtime. But the Wheat Kings lost, 3-1, to Granby on May 15.

In the final round-robin game, Peterborough beat Guelph, 2-1. The Storm was 0-3 and finished, while the result sent Granby into the final.

The hosts qualified for the final by beating the Wheat Kings, 4-3, in the May 18 semifinal. Cameron Mann scored the winning goal, his record-tying third of the tournament. Two players scored three winners each in the 1991 tournament — Zac Boyer of Kamloops and Rick Kowalsky of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

1996 Granby Predateurs:

Philippe AudetFrancis Bouillon, Kevin Bourque, David Brosseau, Jean-Francois Brunelle, Martin Chouinard, Xavier Delisle, Frederic Deschenes, Jonathan Desroches, Jason Doig, Jimmy Drolet, Daniel GoneauBenoit Gratton, Philippe Grondin, Frederic Henry, Georges Laraque, Christian Lefebvre, Michel Massie, Samy Nasreddine, Todd Row, Bard Sorlie, Jean-Francois Tremblay, Georges Morrissette (general manager), Michel Therrien (coach).

NHL: Bouillon played parts of 14 NHL seasons spent largely with the Montreal Canadiens. Laraque spent parts of 12 seasons in the NHL. Therrien has coached 12 NHL seasons, spending eight of those with Montreal.