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Golden Knights prospect Mathieu Cataford excited for final QMJHL season | Golden Knights

Golden Knights prospect Mathieu Cataford excited for final QMJHL season | Golden Knights

Mathieu Cataford found himself in a spot not many players his age find themselves in.

Teenagers aren’t normally playing games in the American Hockey League. They aren’t suiting up for professional teams, mostly, until they’re done with junior hockey.

Cataford’s third junior season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League ended early after a four-game playoff sweep. It was a disappointing end to a memorable season in which Cataford was named the league’s MVP after a 90-point campaign.

Not all was lost. Shortly after Halifax was eliminated, Cataford, 19, was told he would join the Silver Knights for their final four games of the season.

Cataford had two assists in a stretch he called “a great experience.”

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Cataford, the Knights’ third-round pick (No. 77) in the 2023 NHL draft. “At first, I didn’t even know I could play in Henderson before I was 20. But our season ended earlier than expected.”

The Mooseheads were swept by Acadie-Bathurst on April 3. Cataford was still in the locker room minutes after being eliminated when he got a text from Knights director of player development Wil Nichol that he’d be joining the AHL club for its road game against San Jose on April 10.

Cataford recorded an assist in his debut, then a second three days later in his home debut against the Ontario Reign.

“I was excited,” Cataford said. “I think I had some good games over there, and it was nice to see that I could already play at this level (at 19).”

Cataford now has a stint of experience not a lot of the Knights prospects have at that age. It was deserved given the year he had, and it can serve as a springboard to put a cap on a memorable junior hockey career.

His last year has the chance to be a memorable one.

On to Rimouski

The Mooseheads traded Cataford, coming off his MVP season, to the Rimouski Oceanic on June 7 for a massive haul — Rimouski’s first-, second- and third-round picks in this past draft, and first- and second-round picks in 2026.

Why that’s significant is Rimouski is the host of this season’s Memorial Cup, the Canadian Hockey League’s national championship that includes all three major junior leagues. As the host, Rimouski gets an automatic bid to the four-team round-robin tournament.

Fellow Knights prospect forward Matyas Sapovaliv won the Memorial Cup with the Saginaw Spirit last season. The tournament was held in the U.S. for the first time since 1998.

Halifax went to the final of the QMJHL playoffs in 2023 but lost in six games to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Quebec Remparts. Cataford is excited for another opportunity.

“For sure, it’s going to be exciting,” Cataford said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to. I got a little bit of a taste to what it feels like to go that far.”

Development camp ends

Cataford scored for Team White in Saturday’s scrimmage at City National Arena to cap off the Knights’ development camp, a 5-4 loss to Team Red. He secured a pass from linemate Jack Stockfish and capitalized on a two-on-one to beat goaltender Cameron Whitehead.

Nichol said Cataford is a quiet player, but young players need time to come out of their shells. His competitive nature, however, is evident.

That was needed playing against some AHL players who are 10 years older than him.

“I asked him after the first couple of games, ‘How was it?’ And he goes, ‘These are men,’” Nichol said. “It’s a little different if some of them are 28 or 30, some of them are married or have kids. It’s a little bit different if you’re 19, 20, 21 and you only have to feed yourself. For him to have that experience and bring it back to Rimouski is invaluable.”

By this time next year, Cataford could be preparing for a full-time role with the Silver Knights as he ends his junior career. That call-up shows what the Knights think of him this early in his development.

He’s looking forward to showing what that stint did for him.

“Next year I’m going back to junior, but the year after, it’s going to be exciting,” Cataford said. “I know what to expect. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Contact Danny Webster at [email protected]. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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