The Round Robin of the Memorial Cup kicks off Monday night in Saint John, New Brunswick – This will be the return of this annual tournament for the first time since spring 2019 after two years of Covid the best of the tournament.
This year’s edition also marks the return of this property to RDS for the first time after an 11-year absence. All matches in the tournament will then be broadcast on our airwaves for our greatest pleasure.
The Saint John Sea Dogs will serve as the host team after a 38-day forced leave. The Shawinigan Cataractes will represent the QMJHL while the Hamilton Bulldogs and Edmonton Oil Kings are the Ontario and West champions respectively.
Here is an analysis of the forces present for this competition that promises to be very tough.
HAMILTON (107 points this season – 2And CHL)
The Hamilton Bulldogs finally faced adversity in the OHL Final. The Bulldogs needed seven games to finally defeat the Windsor Spitfires after wiping out the first three rounds in 12 straight games. Hamilton is a hockey machine! – If he had counted on the current roster since the first day of the season, he would probably be talking about a record campaign in terms of wins and points in the standings.
Ever since general manager Steve Staios took Mason McTavish to Peterborough and Canadian potential Arber Xhekaj to Kitchener over the holiday season, the Ontario Steel City squad have maintained an impressive 51 -6-1 record in their last 58 games. The Bulldogs are also betting on OHL playoff MVP Logan Morrison and prospective CH client Jan Mysak, who played 22 games with Laval Rocket in the American League last year. Without a doubt the Bulldogs should be considered the favorites of the competition.
EDMONTON (104 points this season – 4And CHL)
The Edmonton Oil Kings are an extremely formidable line-up. Led by 1uh Canadian pick in 2020, Kaiden Guhle, recipient of the WHL playoff MVP title, the Sherwood Park defender is arguably the best CHL player at the moment in all positions. Guhle and his blue line mate Luke Prokop (Nashville Predators prospect) play great minutes and are extremely effective against opposing forwards.
In addition to Guhle, Oil Kings manager Brad Lauer is betting on three other 1’s picksD. turn are the forwards Dylan Guenther (Arizona), Jake Neighbors (St. Louis) and goalkeeper Sebastian Cossa (Detroit) undoubtedly the best goalkeeper of the four teams involved in the competition. A total of eight players belong to the NHL lineups within the Oil Kings, the highest total among participating teams as of next Monday. In the last four Memorial Cup tournaments (2016-19) the Western champions are 0-12 combined, it’s a safe bet that the streak will end quickly this week in New Brunswick.
CATARACTS SHAWINIGAN (84 points this season – 22And CHL)
The Shawinigan Cataractes finally won their first President’s Cup by eliminating in quick succession the top two teams from last season’s QMJHL overall standings, the Quebec Remparts and the Charlottetown Islanders.
Captain Mavrik Bourque is the leader of this team, in 47 games while in uniform this season the Cats held the record of 38-8-1 Bourque also won the Guy-Lafleur Trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP in the QMJHL . The Cats rely on two goalkeepers Antoine Coulombe and Charles-Antoine Lavallée who know how to challenge each other and push themselves behind. The defense doesn’t count on Xhekaj, Guhle or Prokop, but he’s still fine.
The Cats will have the advantage of knowing the environment of San Giovanni and apart from the Sea Dogs, eliminated in 1uh In the playoff group, Shawinigan is the team that has relied on the longest rest, never negligible at this stage of the season. The lack of depth on the 3And and 4And Will trios be a determining factor for Daniel Renaud’s troupe? We’ll see … One thing is certain, with 7 wins in 7 overtime in the playoffs, the Mauritian team arrives in Saint John full of confidence.
SEA DOGS SAINT JOHN (98 points this season – 9And CHL)
Saint John Sea Dogs are chewing. Eliminated by May 12, the tournament host team will have had 38 days to prepare for Monday’s first game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. In the past teams like Windsor in 2017 managed to win the precious trophy after a long wait, but others have also failed miserably like Saskatoon in 2013. Along with the wait, the Sea Dogs players also had to deal with a new trainer. in Gardiner MacDougall, who came to replace Gordie Dwyer who was sent off after his first round failure against Rimouski.
There is only MacDougall for the duration of the tournament, he who has had many successes in the national championships, but at the university level with the UNB Varsity Reds and with whom he will return next season. The Sea Dogs will be hungry and will have the advantage of playing in front of their fans, but against the three champions of the three leagues the task promises to be difficult.
In summary if we trust the sides on paper we go with a final between Edmonton and Hamilton, but as the cliché says it is on the ice that you play. Happy tournament on our waves …
25 players from NHL teams will be involved in the tournament
Edmonton (8) : Cossa (1-Detroit), Guhle (1-Montreal), Neighbors (1-St. Louis), Guenther (1-Arizona), Prokop (3-Nashville), Deaf (3-Florida), Demek (4-Vegas ), Luypen (7-Chicago)
St. John (8) : Kuznetsov (2-Calgary), Poirier (3-Calgary), Villeneuve (4-Toronto), Francis (5-Calgary), Dufour (5-Islanders NY), Ansons (5-Pittsburgh), MacDonald (5-Tampa Bay ), Daoust (6-Ottawa)
Hamilton (5) : McTavish (1-Anaheim), Grushnikov (2-Dallas), Mysak (2-Montreal), Winterton (3-Seattle), Xhekaj (Free agent-Montreal)
Shawinigan (4) : Bourque (1-Dallas), Bourgault (1-Edmonton), Nadeau (4-Buffalo), Has (5-Washington)