by PuckStopsHere on 05/16/09 at 03:59 AM ET
The Memorial Cup, the CHL Championship tournament, began tonight in Rimouski, Quebec. Four teams are fighting for the Memorial Cup. They are the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets, the OHL Champion Windsor Spitfires, the QMJHL Champion Drummondville Voltigeurs and the host Rimouski Oceanic. These teams play a round robin tournament and then a playoff to see who wins the cup.
Here is a look at the four teams in the order of likelihood I think they have of winning:
Windsor Spitfires They only lost ten games in the regular season on their way to first place in the OHL. Defenceman Ryan Ellis (2009 draft eligible) is probably the best player on the team right now. He scored 89 points from defence and put up a +52 +/- rating this year. He was beaten for the team scoring title by left winger Taylor Hall (2010 draft eligible - maybe the favorite to be the top pick) by one point. Greg Nemisz (Calgary’s 2008 1st round draft pick) and Andrei Loktionov (a Los Angeles Kings draft pick) are also dangerous offensive players. In goal, Andrew Engelage (undrafted) set an OHL record with his 46 wins this year and it is unclear he is the number one goalie since they traded for Josh Unice (a Chicago draft pick) who played in last year’s Memorial Cup for Kitchener.
Drummondville Voltigeurs Drummondville also only had ten regulation losses in the regular season, while finishing first in the QMJHL Top scorer Yannick Riendeau (Boston Bruin property) led the league with 126 points and added an amazing 52 points in 19 playoff games. Dany Masse (undrafted) was the team’s second highest scorer with 110 points. The top defenceman is Dmitry Kulikov (2009 draft eligible) who is the top ranked European playing in a North American league in the draft. They will be without the services of Chris DiDomenico (Toronto prospect) who is out with a broken leg. Antoine Tardif (undrafted) and Marco Cosuineau (Anaheim prospect) are the goaltending pair.
Kelowna Rockets Kelowna was a surprise WHL champion. They finished sixth in the league in the regular season. Colin Long (Phoenix draft pick) was the team’s regular season top scorer with 91 points. He was followed closely by Jamie Benn (Dallas draft pick) with 82 points and the WHL playoff scoring lead. The top defenceman is Tyson Barrie (2009 draft eligible and son of Tampa Bay owner Len Barrie). Mark Guggenberger (undrafted) is the goalie. He had only three regular season losses after being acquired in mid-season.
Rimouski Oceanic Rimouski gets their entry into the tournament as the host team. They finished sixth in the QMJHL and were swept by Drummondville in the semi-finals of their playoffs. Philippe Cornet (Edmonton draft pick) led this team with 77 points. He was followed by defenceman Sebastien Piche (undrafted) with 72 points. Keven Veilleux (Pittsburgh draft pick) was limited to 29 games played due to injury, but he scored 48 points. He is healthy now. Maxim Gougeon (undrafted) is their goalie and is seen as a bit of a weak link.
The tournament is played through the upcoming week with the final on Sunday May 24th.
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