2013 Memorial Cup Review
by, 05-27-2013 at 03:21 (1181 Views)
First of all, congratulations to the Halifax Mooseheads on winning their first Memorial Cup. This marks the third consecutive win for the QMJHL, following Shawinigan last year and Saint John in 2011. Also, congratulations must be given to the Portland Winterhawks on a fantastic season and for making the final game of the 2013 Memorial Cup a memorable one.
This yearís tournament, held in Saskatoon, was memorable for a number of reasons, not least of which was the showdown between pre-tournament consensus number one overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft, Seth Jones of the Winterhawks and the number two and three ranked prospects, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of Halifax. This match up did not disappoint in any way with Jones proving that all the hype is warranted, showing off a polished offensive game and big league skating ability. Although he could stand to play a little more physical and tighten up his defensive zone coverage, the fact he is only 18 years old should not be forgotten. There is plenty of time to work on that side of his game.
As for the Halifax wonder twins, it was a tale of two games for Drouin. With only one goal in the first meeting, Drouin must have been feeling the pressure, gripping the stick a little too tight to use the hockey lingo. Evidently he figured out how to deal with the national spotlight as he came back with a five assist performance in the championship game, tying a Memorial Cup record set by Dan Hodgson in 1985. While I personally feel he would benefit from another season in the ďQĒ, donít be surprised if he makes it impossible, for whatever team drafts him, to send him back to the Mooseheads for another year of growing and seasoning.
And then there was Nathan MacKinnon. Ranked number two overall for the upcoming NHL draft, this was his chance to put some doubt in the minds of the scouts and most importantly, the decision makers for the Colorado Avalanche. He did just that. And then some. And then some more. Scoring three goals in the first meeting between the teams, he made the broadcasters and the people watching at home who havenít gotten a chance to watch him play before, take notice. So what does a teenage superstar in the making do for an encore? How about another hat trick, in the championship game, against your friend and arguably biggest rival? Talk about a big game player. MacKinnon racked up 13 points in 4 games, over three points per game. The Avalanche brass does not have an easy decision to make now.
There were a number of other memorable moments from the clash between the top two rated teams in the CHL. Stellar goaltending from both Mac Carruth and Zachary Fucale with both goalies making huge saves at critical times. Standout defensive efforts from both teams led by captains Troy Rutkowski of the Winterhawks and Trey Lewis of the Mooseheads and offense being generated from the blue line by players like Penguins draft pick Derrick Pouliot and Sharks property Konrad Abeltshauser made this one of the most exciting title games in quite some time.
The rest of the tournament was not without players and plays that will live on. From Londonís Max Domiís incredible, between the legs pass to Bo Horvat for a goal to Saskatoonís Dalton Throwerís illegal (debateable) check to the head of Taylor Leier, this tournament featured a little bit of everything. Tournament all-stars include Fucale, Pouliot, Abeltshauser, Mackinnon along with Martin Frk of the Mooseheads and Ty Rattie of the Winterhawks. Horvat was named most sportsmanlike while Andrey Makarov of the Blades was named top goalie. MacKinnon was top scorer and MVP of the tournament.
This was a very successful tournament, although the amount of empty seats was a bit alarming, from top to bottom. All accounts say that it was first class all the way, with a bunch of fan interaction activities, former NHLerís and junior stars on hand, especially Blades alumni, and most importantly, great hockey on the ice.
Finally, letís keep in mind the main reason for the tournament. The Memorial Cup was dedicated in the honour of all of the men and women of the armed forces who have given their lives fighting for Canada. In hockey we use terms like war and battle. Players are called warriors and they do battle in the trenches. In actuality, they play a sport, the greatest sport in the world, but a sport none the less. Letís take a minute to remember the people who really fought in the trenches, the real warriors. They would be proud of the way the Mooseheads and Winterhawks played for the trophy dedicated to them.
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