The teams are in, the stage is set, tickets are sold. The 98th Memorial Cup is about to begin, so let's get to it:
Red Deer Rebels - Host
The Red Deer Rebels won the right to host the 2016 Memorial Cup, and were automatically given a spot in the tournament. The host team didn't take this lightly and were determined to not slack off and earn their spot anyway. They began their season with a 4 game win streak and would have 4 streak of 4+ wins through the season. They finished with a 45-24-1-2 record, good for second in their division.
The Rebels would make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final, beating Calgary 4-1 and going the distance with Regina before winning game 7. They were no match for WHL Champion Brandon Wheat Kings however, and fell in just five games. Now is their chance for revenge.
Goals: Adam Helewka ('15 - SJ) - 42
Assists: Ivan Nikolishin (undrafted) - 51
Points: Ivan Nikolishin - 82
Goalie: Trevor Martin (undrafted) - .911sv% / 2.63 GAA
London Knights - OHL Champions
The London Knights came into this season as favourites in the OHL, as they usually do. The Knights would fight with the Erie Otters all season long for the top spot in the OHL, tying them in points, but falling short of the tiebreaker.
This gave the Knights a theoretical harder path through the OHL playoffs, but after getting taken to six games in the first round bu the Owen Sound Attack, the Knights would set an OHL record 13 game playoff win streak after sweeping Kitchener in the second round, Erie in the Western Conference Finals, and the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL Championship Series.
Maple Leafs prospects Mitch Marner and J.J. Piccinich play for the Knights, and are looking to continue their winning ways in Red Deer.
Goals: Christian Dvorak ('14 - ARZ) - 52
Assists: Mitch Marner ('15 - TOR) / Matthew Tkachuk ('16 Draft) - 77
Points: Christian Dvorak - 121
Goalie: Tyler Parsons ('16 Draft) - .921sv% / 2.33 GAA
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies - QMJHL Champions
Rouyn-Noranda isn't one of the cities that comes to peoples minds when people talk about junior hockey. The small mining town in northern Quebec can't afford an arena that can measure up with most CHL rinks (Aréna Iamgold only holds a total of 3,500 after standing room is taken into account), but it's passion about the game rivals any of those other cities so much the teams owners found the area to be a better community to keep the team in than the suburbs of Montreal and that region (The Huskies were formerly the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser, Verdun Juniors, and Montreal Junior Canadiens).
The Huskies powered their way to the top of the QMJHL standings, and lost only four games on their way to capturing their first Presidents Cup since moving to the "Copper Capital of Canada". Placing first they got to play the 16th seed (QMJHL seeds 1-16 for playoffs) and swept the Drummondville Voltigeurs in round one, took the Blainsville-Broisband Armada down in five games, faced their biggest challenge in the Moncton Wildcats who took the Huskies to six games. In the QMJHL Final the Huskies beat Dmytro Timashov and the Shawinigan Cataractes in five games to take the Presidents Cup.
Leafs prospect Martins Dzierkals looks to add another championship to his year after winning the QMJHL title and the Div1A World Junior Championships with Latvia.
Goals: Francis Perron ('14 - OTT) - 41
Assists: Francis Perron - 67
Points: Francis Perron - 108
Goalie: Chase Marchand (undrafted) - .911sv% / 2.42 GAA
Brandon Wheat Kings - WHL Champions
The WHL champions finished second overall in the WHL, four points below the regular season champion Victoria Royals. The Wheat Kings had two players finish with over 100 points (Jayce Hawryluk ['14 - FLA] 106 & Nolan Patrick ['17 Draft] 102), and four players with over 30 goals.
In the WHL playoffs the Wheat Kings followed the same path as the other entrants. They beat the Edmonton Oil Kings in six games, the Moose Jaw Warriors in five, and the host Red Deer Rebels in five as well. In the WHL Finals they beat the Seattle Thunderbirds in five games to win their third WHL Championship, and made their eighth trip to the finals.
Goals: Jayce Hawryluk ('14 - FLA) - 47
Assists: Jayce Hawryluk - 59
Points: Jayce Hawryluk - 106
Goalie: Jordan Papirny (undrafted) - .910sv% / 2.61 GAA
You can find a detailed Memorial Cup history here, that I wrote last year.
Last years tournament was hosted by the Quebec Remparts, and featured the OHL Champion Oshawa Generals, WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets, and the QMJHL Champion Rimouski Oceanic.
The Generals went a perfect 3-0 in the round robin portion, while the other three teams had 1-2 records. The tie breaker decided that Kelowna would get a bye to the semi-final and the two QMJHL teams would play each other to advance.
Quebec defeated Rimouski and then fell to Kelowna, who triple the score on Quebec (9-3 win). The final game of the tournament was a close contest and the OHL's Oshawa Generals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 in overtime, and won their third Memorial Cup, since restarting the franchise in 1966.
|May 20||7:00PM||Red Deer Rebels||London Knights||Sportsnet O, P, W, E|
|May 21||7:00PM||Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Brandon Wheat Kings||Sportsnet 360|
|May 22||7:00PM||Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Red Deer Rebels||Sportsnet O, P, W, E|
|May 23||8:00PM||London Knights||Brandon Wheat Kings||TBA|
|May 24||8:00PM||London Knights||Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||TBA|
|May 25||8:00PM||Brandon Wheat Kings||Red Deer Rebels||TBA|
|May 26||8:00PM||Tie Breaker for 3rd place||If Necessary||TBA|
|May 27||8:00PM||Semi Finals||#2 vs #3||TBA|
|May 29||TBA||Finals||#1 vs SF Winner||TBA|
The Memorial Cup tournament is one of my favourites on the hockey calendar. Lots of potential draft picks playing on a national stage, and this year the chance to see the Leafs best non-professional prospect win another title.