The Quebec Remparts took home the Memorial Cup last night, defeating the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds by a 5-0 margin in the championship game. Blue Jackets prospect James Malatesta was named tournament MVP after scoring 5 goals in 4 games.
This is another feather in the cap for Malatesta, in what became a very memorable 19 year old season in the CHL. He was named QMJHL playoff MVP last month, after scoring 14 goals in 18 games en route to Quebec winning the league title. He scored 5 goals in 4 games at the Memorial Cup tournament, helping lead his team to a 3-1 record, including the win in the final.
He becomes the first player to win the MVP Awards in both league playoffs, and the Memorial Cup; since Mitch Marner achieved the feat in 2016. He’s the first player from the QMJHL to achieve these feats since Jonathan Huberdeau in 2011. He also joins Alexandre Radulov and Guy Lafleur as the only other Remparts to take home Memorial Cup MVP honors.
From a goal scoring perspective, Malatesta’s season was nothing short of dynamic. Split between the QMJHL regular season, playoffs, and Memorial Cup, Malatesta played in 77 games and scored 66 goals. He did all of this while playing a hard-checking physical game, getting under his opponents’ skin on a shift by shift basis.
This is the kind of player who thrives when the games mean the most, and he took full advantage of his chance to play on junior hockey’s greatest stage. The speedy winger was dogged on the forecheck, went hard to the net, and made teams pay when he got the chance to unleash his shot.
Malatesta may be undersized, but that doesn’t stop him from winning corner battles or throwing a huge hit. While any number of his teammates could have taken home the MVP honors, the voters decided that his overall physicality – capped off by his timely goal scoring – was simply too good to overlook.
He’ll turn pro this fall, likely spending next season with the Cleveland Monsters. He’ll be part of an influx of exciting young talent coming into the system, and should be a real treat for Monsters fans to watch. James Malatesta will be a fan favorite for sure.