The 98th Memorial Cup tournament opened up with the host team Red Deer Rebels playing against the most dominant team in junior hockey this season, quite possibly in all of hockey, the London Knights.
The game began with the usual pomp and circumstance that the opening game of the tournament asks for. The local military attachment played a role in the ceremonies, with an unveiling of the usual memorial sweaters worn by the home team, honour guard, and rendition of 'O Canada' that would bring a ear to the eye of those inclined.
The ceremony may have been the only bright spots for the locals from Red Deer as the London Knights showed why they were able to set an OHL playoff record 13 straight playoff victories, including three straight series sweeps enroute to their third J. Ross Robertson Cup in five years.
The Knights opened up scoring 7 minutes into the game after Hayden Fleury took a roughing minor, the third penalty of the period and London's second chance for a power play goal. Aaron Berisha (Undrafted) would score the first goal of the tournament, taking assists from Matthew Tkachuk ('16 Draft) and Mitchell Marner (TOR '15). After a couple of matching roughing penalties to both teams, the Knights showed their opponents that you never let them go four on four, as Mitch Marner and Olli Juolevi ('16 Draft) set up Christian Dvorak (ARZ '14) to put the Knights up by two.
A second Dvorak goal (Juolevi, Marner) would hold on as the game winner, ending the first period.
This game was owned by London, especially the top line of Dvorak, Marner, and Tkachuk.
OHl fans have seen this a lot. Give & go between Dvorak and Marner. Add another couple pts to their totals tonight. https://t.co/goTZYLykrE— Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) May 21, 2016
Victor Mete ('16 Draft) and Mitch Marner would score in the second period and the Knights would take a commanding 6-0 lead before the Rebels got on the board.
Rebels captain Luke Philip (Undrafted) gives the Rebels fans something to cheer for with 15 seconds left in the period, but ultimately it's much too little, much too late.
The Rebels would cut the lead down to 4 after Adam Helewka (SJ '15) would score on a power play, but the hometown knew the game was over.
The Knights dominated this game, as they have the majority of their playoff games this year, and gave Brandon and Rouyn-Noranda a close up look at what's coming to them this week.
Game two of the 2016 Memorial Cup is tonight at 7PM, featuring WHL Champion Brandon Wheat Kings taking on QMJHL Champion Rouyn-Noranada Huskies (with Leafs prospect Martins Dzierkals).
Mitchell Marner, London - 2G, 3A, +4
Christian Dvorak, London - 2G, 2A, +4
Tyler Parsons, London - 30 Saves