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The Puck Stops Here

Memorial Cup Preview

The Memorial Cup begins today in Mississauga, Ontario.  It is the Canadian junior hockey championship.  There is a four team tournament between the champions of the Western Hockey League (Kootenay Ice), Ontario Hockey League (Owen Sound Attack) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (St John Sea Dogs) and the host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.

Here is a preview of the teams in order of their likelihood of winning the tournament:

St John Sea Dogs   This team lost only ten games in the regular season and QMJHL playoffs combined.  This team will have several players selected in the first round of the 2011 NHL draft.  Offensively they have been led by Jonathan Huberdeau (2011 draft eligible), Zack Phillips (2011 draft eligible) and Michael Kirkpatrick (undrafted).  Their defence is led by Nathan Beaulieu (2011 draft eligible) and Simon Despres (Pittsburgh prospect).  Jacob DeSerres (Philadelphia prospect) is their likely goalie.  This team has dominated in the QMJHL.  We will see how they do against tougher competition in the Memorial Cup.

Mississauga St Michael’s Majors  They were the regular season champions in the OHL but lost in the semi-finals in the playoffs.  This team is led offensively by Justin Shugg (Carolina prospect), Devante Smith-Pelly (Anaheim prospect) and Casey Cizikas (NY Islanders prospect).  Their defence is led by Marc Cantin (Boston prospect) and Brett Flemming (Washington prospect).  JP Anderson (San Jose prospect) is their goaltender.  They are the hometown team and probably the best team from the OHL, though they failed to win the playoffs.

Owen Sound Attack  Owen Sound is the OHL champion.  The finished second to Mississauga in the regular season and won the West Conference and playoffs.  Joey Hishon (Colorado prospect), Garrett Wilson (Florida prospect) and Robby Mignardi (undrafted) lead the way offensively.  Jesse Blacker (Toronto prospect) and Matt Stanisz (undrafted) are the top defencemen.  Scott Stajcer (NY Rangers prospect) is the likely number one goalie.

Kootenay Ice  Kootenay finished sixth in the regular season in the WHL but are their playoff champion.  Cody Eakin (Washington prospect), Max Reinhart (Calgary prospect) and Matt Fraser (Dallas prospect) are their top forwards.  Brayden McNabb (Buffalo prospect) and James Martin (undrafted) are top defencemen.  Nathan Lieuwen (undrafted) is their top goaltender.  This team is a surprise representative from the WHL and could be overmatched here.

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Comments

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Not a bad prediction but you’re a bit of on Owen Sound’s goalie.  Stajcer hasn’t played a ton this season or postseason.  Draft-eligible Jordan Binnington has been getting most of the starts.

Also Kootenay knocked off all those higher rated teams in the WHL, it’s not like they snuck through.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they can ride their momentum to the finals.

Posted by JBM on 05/20/11 at 10:13 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I am not certain who will be Owen Sound’s goalie.  Stajcer has the most playoff games played of any goalie on the team with 13.  He missed a significant portion of the regular season due to injury and Jordan Binnington led the regular season in games played.  Binnington has only appeared in 7 playoff games.and has worse playoff numbers than Stajcer.  To further complicate things, a third goalie Michael Zador has also appeared in seven playoff games and has the best saves percentage and GAA in the playoffs of the bunch.

As for Kootenay, of course they had to beat higher ranked teams to get to the Memorial Cup, but they are the lowest ranked of the teams here.  Momentum is not a factor here.  Every team got here by winning (even Mississuaga won a lot this year though technically they are the host).  Kootenay has no more “momentum” whatever that is from there path to get here as any other team does.  “Momentum” in hockey is a fragile thing that doesn’t explain much.  If Kootenay allows a quick goal in their first game, it will all be gone.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/20/11 at 10:24 PM ET

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Ok rather than just momentum, I meant to say they handedly beat two opponents who appeared to outclass them (8-1 vs Portland and Saskatoon the two clear favorites).  As such I’d think perhaps there’s much more to them than that less talented team who snuck in, though their thrashing tonight may back your stance up.

Also Stajcer didn’t play the most games this postseason look again.  Binnington got the start and a shutout so I’d imagine he’ll continue to get the most starts of the three.

Posted by JBM on 05/22/11 at 02:19 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Also Stajcer didn’t play the most games this postseason look again.  Binnington got the start and a shutout so I’d imagine he’ll continue to get the most starts of the three.

Are you arguing with the OHL’s webpage?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/22/11 at 02:24 AM ET

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I am.  Look a bit more closely than that. 

Look at the first series, he came in relief in one game and was dressed as the backup for the other.  Hardly worth 2 games played.

Second series against Plymouth, he played the final three games with some pretty solid numbers at that.  Then he played every game against Windsor but by the time the finals rolled around he was back on the bench.  He played two games and after being pulled in his second start that series he never returned.  Again maybe he was injured in that game unbeknownst to me but Binnington has hardly come out of nowhere.

He’s draft-eligible this year as I said and got the first start of the Memorial Cup like I thought.  Regardless of Stajcer shutting down Windsor he still was sent to the bench so while you may be right he played the most games it certainly had little bearing going into game one.

Posted by JBM on 05/22/11 at 02:12 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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