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2015 Memorial Cup: Preview and schedule

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The 2015 Memorial Cup begins tonight. Here's what you need to know.

Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

Bienvenue au Québec! The old Colisée gets one last spotlight before it gives way for the brand new Vidéotron Centre this fall. The Remparts de Québec host the 97th Memorial Cup tournament, with game 1 tonight at 7:30PM Eastern. Let's jump in and take a look at this years tournament.

Schedule

The Memorial Cup tournament is a 4 team tournament starting with a 4 team round robin between the host team and the three league champions. the first place team after the round robin advances to the finals, where second and third place play a semi-final game. If there are any ties in the standings a tie breaking game will be held before the semi-final.

Below is the schedule for this years Memorial Cup. All games in Canada will be on Sportsnet and TVA, and on the NHL Network in the United States.  Sportsnet 590 & 960 AM will be streaming radio broadcasts of all the games and will air select games on the radio. Online video streaming can be found via Neulion.

Date Time Away Home
May 22 7:30PM Kelowna Rockets Québec Remparts
May 23 4:30PM Rimouski Océanic Oshawa Generals
May 24 4:30PM Québec Remparts Oshawa Generals
May 25 7:30PM Rimouski Océanic Kelowna Rockets
May 26 7:30PM Oshawa Generals Kelowna Rockets
May 27 7:30PM Québec Remparts Rimouski Océanic
May 28 7:30PM Tie Breaker If Necessary
May 29 7:30PM Semi-Final
May 31 TBD Championship

The Teams

Quebec Remparts
Tournament Host

Drafted Players: Zachary Fucale - G (MTL 2013), Cody Donaghey - D (TOR FA), Ryan Graves - D (NYR 2013), Anthony Duclair - LW (NYR 2013), Marc-Olivier Roy - C (EDM 2013), Adam Erne - LW (TB 2013)
2015 Draftees: Callum Booth - G, Giancarlo Fiori - D, Olivier Thibodeau - D, Dmytro Timashov - F
Season Leading Scorer: Dmytro Timashov - 66GP - 19G + 71A = 90Pts
Playoff Leading Scorer: Adam Erne - 22GP - 21G + 9A = 30Pts
Regular Season Record:40-25-1-2, 4th overall, 2nd in East Division

Regular Season: The Remparts came into the 2015 QMJHL season knowing expectations were high for the Memorial Cup hosts. In 2014 the London Knights went winless in the tournament and in 2013 the Saskatoon Blades barely made the playoffs, missing would have been a disaster for ticket sales and embarrass the WHL.

The Remparts were sold in November by Majority Owner Patrick Roy to Quebec media giant Quebecor for a price in the range of $20-25 million, a good investment for Roy who bought the Beauport Harfangs for $2million in 1997 and moved them to Quebec City. Yes, junior hockey teams really can't afford to pay their players.

The Remparts were a solid team all season and were given a late Christmas gift by the New York Rangers, who sent Anthony Duclair down following the World Jr Championships. Duclair had 7 points in 18 games for the Rangers, and boosted the Remparts by scoring 15 goals and assisting on 19 for 34 points in 26 games. The Remparts finished 4th overall to end the season.

Road to the Memorial Cup: The QMJHL seeds its teams 1-16 for the playoffs so the 4th place Remparts hosted the 13th place Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the first round.

This was a tight series and plenty of back and forth in games, but Quebec held on to the series despite a Cape Breton OT win to stay alive in game 6, and took round one in 7 games. The Remparts knew they'd have to ramp it up if they wanted to be seen as true contenders for the Memorial Cup, not a team that only got in by hosting.

They swept the Charlottetown Islanders in 4 and continued to dominate the maritimes by sweeping the Moncton Wildcats in the semi-finals.in the finals vs Rimouski the Remparts extended their playoff win streak to 11 by going up 2-0 in the series. Rimouski would take the next two and the final 3 games would all go to overtime, Quebec taking game 5, Rimouski taking game 6, and the Remparts would bow out in in double overtime in game 7 giving Rimouski the Presidents Trophy as QMJHL champions. Quebec's Adam Erne took the Guy Lafluer Trophy as QMJHL Playoff MVP

Kelowna Rockets
WHL Champions

Drafted Players: Mitchell Wheaton - D (DET 2013), Madison Bowey - D (WSH 2013), Myles Bell - LW (NJ 2013), Rourke Chartier - C (SJ 2014), Leon Draisaitl - C (EDM 2014), Tyrell Goulbourne - C (PHI 2013)
2015 Draftees: Tyson Baillie - C, Joe Gatenby - D, Justin Kirkland - LW, Nick Merkley - C, Riley Stadel - D
Season Leading Scorer: Nick Merkley - 72 GP - 20G + 70A = 90Pts
Playoffs Leading Scorer: Leon Draisaitl - 19 GP - 10G + 18A = 28 Pts
Regular Season Record: 53-13-5-1, 1st in Western Conference, 2nd Overall

Regular Season: The Rockets began the 2014-2015 season with a rookie head coach in Dan Lambert. Expectations weren't high for the newbie behind the bench but Rockets management had set him up for success with an All-Star roster in front of him. Kelowna kicked off the season with a 10 game winning streak and never lost more than 2 games in a row all season.

A dominant force in the WHL became even stronger when Leon Draisaitl was sent down in January from NHL Edmonton Oilers. The rich got richer as Leon added 19 goals and 34 assist for 53 points in just 32 games. The Rockets rode their success to the top of the West in the WHL, finishing just 2 points back of Brandon Wheat Kings, who had two more OT losses than Kelowna.

Road to the Memorial Cup: The Rockets jumped out of the gate facing the Tri-City Americans and swept them easily in four games out scoring the opponents 19-7. In round two the took a 3 game lead when the Victoria Royals ended the Rockets 7 game win streak with a game 4 overtime victory. The Rockets took offense to this and blew out the Royals 7-3 in game 5 for the series win.

The Portland Winterhawks presented more of a challenge to Kelowna, taking a 2-1 series lead after 3 games in the Western Final.

Kelowna won game 4 and 5, but took a serious loss to their roster when Tyrell Goulbourne was cut by a skate in a collision with a Portland player. Goulbourne had surgery after the game, but will not be playing in the Memorial Cup and the overager's WHL career has ended. the Rockets rallied and took game 6 of the Western Final 8-4 and were ready to face what should have been their best opponent yet, WHL regular season leader Brandon Wheat Kings. it wasn't. Kelowna swept the Wheat Kigns and took the Ed Chynoweth Cup on home ice.

Oshawa Generals
OHL Champions
Drafted Players:
Josh Brown - D (FLA 2013), Cole Cassels - C/RW (VAN 2013), Michael Dal Colle - C/LW (NYI 2014), Tobias Lindberg - LW/RW (OTT 2013), Michael McCarron - RW (MTL 2013),  Matt Mistele - LW (LA 2014), Brent Pedersen - LW (CAR 2013), Hunter Smith - RW (CGY 2014)
2015 Draftees: Jeremy Brodeur - G, Stephen Desrocher - D, Daniel Robertson - D, Mitchell Vande Sompel - D,  Anthony Cirelli - C
Season Leading Scorer: Michael Dal Colle - 56GP - 42G + 51A = 93Pts
Playoffs Leading Scorer: Michael Dal Colle - 16GP - 7G + 18A = 25Pts
Regular Season Record: 51-11-2-4, 1st in Eastern Conference, 2nd overall

Regular Season: The Generals came into the season as one of the biggest teams in the OHL and used their size and skill to stay on top of the league the entire season. in a year that all eyes were on the Western Conference, focused on Connor McDavid, the Generals never took their foot off the pedal and enjoyed flying under the radar as one of the best teams on the ice, on the standings, and on the spreadsheets as Oshawa was the best possession team in the OHL this season. Half of this team is 19 and 20 years old, and management had 2015 as a target for the Memorial Cup.

Road to the Memorial Cup: Built for the playoffs the Generals didn't waste any time and opened up the playoffs with a 7-1 win over the perennially hapless Peterborough Petes. The Petes came back fighting, losing game two 2-1 but pulled out a shocking win in game three over the Generals, who were picked to steamroll the Petes.

The Generals picked up their socks, shut out the Petes in game 4 and took the series in 5. Round two featured a common playoff opponent, the Niagara IceDogs.

The IceDogs were out of the playoffs halfway through the season but roared back with a new top line of Verheaghe, Perlini, and Ho-Sang. The Generals didn't really care about this, and took the first two games with a combined score of 11-4. Niagara came back in game three (setting some fans up for crushing disappointment...jerks), but Oshawa wasn't about to let go of control winning games 4 and 5 to advance to the conference finals. In a rematch of the 2014 finals Oshawa took on North Bay. Last year the Battalion swept the Gens, but this roster used that experience to prove they weren't going to be pushed around again.

Like Kelowna they lost a significant player to injury, Will Petschenig broke his arm in game 5, but the Generals took the series in 6 setting up a showdown against everyone's pick to represent the OHL at the Memorial Cup: The Erie McDavids Otters. It wasn't meant to be for Erie, as the Generals took the series in 5 games, winning their sicth OHL Championship on home ice.

Rimouski Oceanic
QMJHL Champions

Drafted Players: Philippe Desrosiers - G (DAL 2013), Jan Kostalek - D (WPG 2013), Samuel Morin - D (PHI 2013), Christopher Clapperton - LW (FLA 2013), Vincent Dunn - C (OTT 2013), Frederik Gauthier - C (TOR 2013), 
2015 Draftees: Simon Bourque - D,  Samuel Laberge - RW
Season Leading Scorer: Alexis Loiseau - 68 GP - 35G + 61A = 96Pts
Playoffs Leading Scorer: Alexis Loiseau - 20GP - 9G + 17A = 27Pts
Regular Season Record: 47-16-3-2, 1st in East Division, 1st overall

Regular Season: The only team in the tournament to finish first overall, the Oceanic had probably the least eventful season, despite being the best team Rimouski has put together since Sidney Crosby was captain.

Honestly, not being able to read French I don't have a lot of season highlights other than they've been set for championships since Day 1. They're a great advance stats team, made trades that only made them stronger, acquiring a second #1 goalie to make sure no starter gets overworked, they've had a strong (and big) defensive force behind the forwards and have no qualms about walking over the competition at the Colisee.

Road to the Memorial Cup: Rimouski drew 16th overall Victoriaville to start the QMJHL playoffs and swept them in 4, only game 1 was a risk to the Oceanic as they needed overtime to win. In round two the Oceanic dropped game one to Gatineau but didn't look back to that loss and won 4 straight clear victories to advance to the semi-finals. Our won Scott Wheeler was at game 3 of that series.

In the semi-finals the Oceanic faced off alst eyars QMJHL entry into the Memorial Cup, the Val D'or Foreurs, but ignore dhistory and swept them in 4, shutting them out twice and outscoring them 17-4. With the semi-final wins by Quebec and Rimouski the QMJHL teams for the tournament were set, but pride was on the line and neither team was going to coast now that their spots were secure.

Quebec took the first two, Rimouski the next, 2, and the two teams traded overtime wins in games 5 and 6. Game seven was defined by defense, going into second overtime tied at 1. Maple Leafs prospect Frédérik Gauthier set up the championship winning goal and the Oceanic come into the Remparts house QMJHL champions, and look to add a second trophy this spring.

Who to follow

The below people are the best for quick news and great follow for the Memorial Cup (and Jr hockey in general)

Jeff Marek @JeffMarek
Sportsnets Jr guy, also co-host of Marek vs Wyshynski at Puck Daddy and the podcast Junior at Sportsnet

Sunaya Sapurji@Sunayas
Writer for Yahoo! sports, is there for every big game in Jr, and does not have the best of luck at airports getting to/from the World Jrs.

LoosePucks@LoosePucks
Official twitter for the LoosePucks blog, contributions from Terry Doyle and Sunaya Sapurji

Brendan Ross@RossyYoungBlood
Writes for McKeens, Dobber Hockey, and The Scout.ca - Always on top of who to watch

Terry Doyle@Terry_Doyle
Covers the OHL and hosts the intermission show "OHL Tonight" during the public access games around the league

Guy Flaming@TPS_Guy
Host of "The Pipeline Show" and well connected, especially in the WHL.

Pre-Tournament Reading

Okay this first one isn't reading but The Pipeline Show has interviewed all four coaches participating in the Memorial Cup: Listen Here

Sportsnet.ca has a great section on Jr Hockey, lots of previews here.

Yahoo! Sports' Buzzing the Net also covers all three leagues

The Q News has you covered for the stories coming out of Quebec and the Maritimes.

This looks to be one of the best Memorial Cup tournaments in years. All 4 teams are strong competitors, relying on scoring more than shutouts which should make for some great games to watch. All of the teams earned their way here, even host Quebec was 1 goal away from coming in as QMJHL champion, no sneaking in the back door to the tournament for the Remparts, looking at you London. As a Leafs fan i've adopted the Oceanic as my team for this tournament, but the good part of not having your own team playing is you can enjoy the games without pressure.

Coming up during the tournament we'll take a look at some of the best Memorial Cup players and how their careers turned out, as well as the rumoured changes Rogers may implement in time for the 100th tournament.