We know our four teams for the Memorial Cup now. Thanks to Oshawa’s ousting of Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, the Generals will represent the OHL, joining Kelowna of the WHL, plus Quebec (the hosts) and Rimouski in the QMJHL. So who is favored to win it all? Ah, that’s a thorny question in a tournament that often surprises. But let’s take a look at what you should know about the four worthy squads in contention.
As Canadian junior championships begin to get decided — the Kelowna Rockets and Oshawa Generals have already won the WHL and OHL, respectively — the United States’ top junior league, the USHL, has named its champion.
With a 4-2 victory Friday night, the Sioux Falls Stampede completed a sweep of the five-game series against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The best-of-five victory for Sioux Falls was far from a dominating sweep, with wins of 3-2 and 4-2 bookending a 6-1 Game 2 victory as the Stampede took home the Clark Cup as USHL champions. Read more
OSHAWA – Twenty-five years and two days ago, the Oshawa Generals won their last Memorial Cup with a star-studded lineup that included future NHL superstar Eric Lindros. And while they won’t be going to the Memorial Cup as a bunch of no-names – after all, Martin Brodeur’s kid is their backup goalie – any resemblance between this year’s Generals and the one that won it all a quarter of a century ago is coincidental.
This is a team that won the OHL championship – with a 6-2 win over the Connor McDavid-led Erie Otters Friday night – on the dint of sheer determination, unwavering focus on the defensive side of the game and a boatload of opportunism. The old adage that defense wins championships was never more apropos than it was in this series.
“We were overlooked because a lot of teams scored more goal than we did,” said Generals coach D.J. Smith. “It takes a lot of people to buy into playing defense like that, a lot of unsung heroes. But at the end of the day, I think they’re happy.” Read more
OSHAWA – Shortly after receiving the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the most valuable player in the OHL playoffs, Connor McDavid walked off the ice, placed the trophy on two stacked milk crates, and trudged off to the Erie Otters dressing room. And so ended one of the greatest careers in the history of the OHL, if not junior hockey. With a whimper, not a bang.
From the time McDavid gained entry into the OHL as an exceptional player, he has been a rock star, super star and scoring star. He carried the Otters on his back throughout the playoffs, but in the end, could not will his team to victory over the blanket coverage foisted upon him by the Oshawa Generals during the league final. As special a talent as McDavid has been and will be, he simply could not negotiate his way through the red sea of Generals sweaters on his own. Read more
As we pause briefly from the Stanley Cup playoffs, let’s turn our eyes over to Europe for a second, where the World Championship is down to four teams. Canada plays the Czech Republic in one semifinal, while Russia and the United States renew hostilities on the other side of the bracket.
If Canada hopes to move on, they’ll have to stop an ageless icon. Meanwhile, the Russians will have their hands full with a powerful teenager.
The Memorial Cup has its third competitor as the Kelowna Rockets will be heading to Quebec to compete for major junior’s grandest prize following a sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL final.
The Rockets, who defeated the Wheat Kings 3-0 in the fourth game of the final, captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the fourth time in the last twelve seasons and will go on to the Memorial Cup tournament in Quebec City. Both the Quebec Remparts and Rimouski Oceanic have secured a spot in the tournament, and are battling for seeding now, since the Remparts are hosting.”
As the director of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Blues, Bill Armstrong took a trip through the Ontario League earlier this season with his teenage son Jamie in tow. In every arena, fans stopped Armstrong to share a memory that is now a quarter of a century old.
It was 25 years ago today that Armstrong became the most unlikely hero in Memorial Cup history, capping one of the most compelling and exciting tournaments ever with his goal at 2:05 of the second overtime period for the Oshawa Generals in their 4-3 victory over the Kitchener Rangers in front of a sold-out crowd at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.
Major junior playoffs have reached the final series, while the AHL post-season is well into the second round. An incredibly exciting 2014-15 campaign is nearing its end, so I’m opening up the Hot List a bit to younger prospects. Like those that came before them, they are the players you’ll want to know and that we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.