Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Memorial Cup 2011

This year’s version of the Memorial Cup is winding down in Mississauga. Last night, Jonathan Huberdeau scored at the 17:35 mark of the first overtime period to propel the Saint John Sea Dogs into the final on Sunday. The victory over the Owen Sound Attack was a heartbreaker, especially for Belleville’s Andrew Shaw.

Andrew has had an outstanding year. With his robust style of play, he is always at the forefront when it comes to action on the ice.

In Monday’s game against the Sea Dogs, he got his team off on the right foot by scoring a goal, and setting up another in the first period. That lead held up until the third period, when the Sea Dogs tied the score to send the game into overtime.

Shaw has never been known to shy away from the rough stuff, and contributed throughout the game with his feisty play. Occasionally, he pays the price for his exuberance. The Attack won the league title this year, with “Shawsie” in the press box. He had been given a holiday by league commissioner Dave Branch for his play.

I have chatted with Andrew on several occasions during this playoff run with the Attack. Naturally, he is thrilled to be participating in the Memorial Cup. “It was tough to sit and watch the guys during the Ontario Hockey League finals. But when we scored that final goal against the Majors, I knew it was all worthwhile.”

Andrew comes by his style of play honestly. His father, Doug, was a fine hockey player who came up through the ranks in Belleville. He took no prisoners when he played for the Junior “A” Bobcats in Belleville.

Andrew also got a taste for football in Belleville while playing in the Belleville Minor Football League. In 2003, he played on the Procter and Gamble Raiders with his brothers, Jason and Josh. Doug helped coach the team.

About a week ago, it was announced that Andrew had been selected as Belleville’s “Athlete of the Year”, the winner of the Robinson-Kelleher Trophy.

There are four teams involved in the hunt for the Memorial Cup: the Attack, the Sea Dogs, the Kootenay Ice, and the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, the host team. All games take place at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

The tournament is really a showcase for some of the fine hockey talent from around the world. There are scouts from every NHL franchise keeping on eye on the players. They like to see how highly regarded players perform on the big stage, at a critical time of the season.

The Majors have a storied hockey history that dates back to 1907. The Roman Catholic School in downtown Toronto iced its first team that year. In 1934, the team added the moniker “Majors”, and also added the second team the “Buzzers” to play at the Junior “B” level. In 2007, current owner Eugene Melnyk moved the franchise to Mississauga. Dave Cameron has served as the coach for the last ten years. He is a familiar face in the Quinte area, as his son Connor played for the Dukes. James Boyd, a perennial favourite with the Belleville Bulls, serves as his assistant coach.

The St. Michaels’ alumni is almost a “Who’s Who” in the hockey world: Tim Horton, Dick Duff, Senator Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon, Ted Lindsay, Red Kelly, Gerry Cheevers, to name just a few. There are photographs of all alumni who have ever played in the NHL inside the old barn in downtown Toronto.

The Majors also have a couple of familiar faces on their roster: Kingston’s Cory Bureau was once a Duke, while Marc Cantin began his junior career with the Belleville Bulls.

The tournament wraps up this coming Sunday. As is always the case with the round robin format, anything can (and does) happen. The semi-final will determine who will face the Sea Dogs on Sunday. After that game, our focus will be held exclusively by the Stanley Cup playoffs. And the French Open. And baseball…..

James Hurst
May 24, 2011.

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