SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Martin Frk had a hat trick and an assist and Darcy Ashley also scored twice and had an assist of his own Tuesday as the Halifax Mooseheads hammered the London Knights 9-2 in the final round-robin game for both teams at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Stefan Fournier added a goal and an assist, while Brent Andrews, Ryan Falkenham and Luca Ciampini also scored for Halifax (2-1), which booked a spot in at least Friday’s semifinal with a clinical offensive performance.
Zachary Fucale made 26 saves for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions, who led 5-0 after the first period and 8-2 after the second before taking their foot off the gas in the third. Top prospects Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin each added three assists.
The focus of the tournament now turns to Wednesday’s final round-robin game between the Western Hockey League champion Portland Winterhawks (1-1) and the host Saskatoon Blades (1-1). A victory for Portland puts the Mooseheads directly into Sunday’s championship game, while a Saskatoon win means the Blades will go right to the final, with Halifax having to settle for a spot in the semifinal.
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Seth Griffith and Matt Rupert had the goals for the Knights (1-2), who will take on the loser of Saskatoon-Portland in Thursday’s tiebreaker. The winner of that one moves on to the semi.
Jake Patterson, who was making his first start of the tournament, stopped 6 of 11 shots for London in a disastrous first period before being replaced by Anthony Stolarz at the start of second. Stolarz was pulled after giving up five goals on 31 shots in the Ontario Hockey League champions’ 6-3 loss to Portland on Monday. He finished with 22 saves on Tuesday.
Coming off Sunday’s 5-2 upset loss to Saskatoon, the determined and fresher Mooseheads scored early and often against a Knights team that seemed to be feeling the effects of the previous night’s game against Portland.
Frk stepped out of the corner and faked a shot that froze Patterson before finding Fournier wide open on the doorstep for an easy tap-in to start the onslaught at 7:43 of the first period.
Ashley made it 2-0 just 1:43 later, popping home a rebound from in close and added his second of the night at 12:02 on a nice deflection just as a Knights penalty expired.
The rout was on at 17:31 when Andrews stripped the puck from Knights defenceman Nikita Zadorov at the Halifax blue-line and moved in on a 2-on-1 before beating Patterson with a quick shot to the stickside to make it 4-0.
Frk, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2012, then stretched the lead to five just 29 seconds by burying a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Drouin.
The Mooseheads didn’t let up against their wounded opponent in the second period. After London’s Max Domi fired wide on a partial breakaway, Frk finished off a pretty passing play with MacKinnon and Drouin for his second of the night at 1:45 past Stolarz, who came on in place of Patterson.
Falkenham made it 7-0 at 9:51 with a shot that chimed in of the post on a 2-on-1 as Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme started to roll four lines.
London showed a bit of life and got one back on a nice move by Griffith on Fucale at 16:02 and Rupert cut the deficit to five 1:18 later.
But any threat of a miraculous comeback was put to rest when Frk finished off another passing play with MacKinnon and Drouin for his third of the night with 1:57 left in the period.
Ciampini added Halifax’s ninth goal on a two-man advantage with less than a minute to play in the third period as both teams now look ahead to the knockout round.
Notes: The best that Portland can finish is to qualify for the semifinal with a win over Saskatoon on Wednesday. ... Hockey legend and local product Gordie Howe received a standing ovation from the crowd of 9,237 at the Credit Union Centre before dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.