Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Cup -2013

The Halifax Mooseheads entered the Canadian Junior Hockey League nineteen years ago. Their quest for the Memorial Cup came to fruition last weekend as they defeated the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 in Saskatoon to capture the title.

The Mooseheads were led by Nathan MacKinnon, who, along with a hat trick, also assisted on two other goals. Accolades were loaded on his shoulders after the game: most valuable player, top scorer, and a member of the first all star team for the tournament.

The London Knights and the Saskatoon Blades also participated in the tournament. The Mooseheads dominted the All star team with three other players selected: goalie Zachary Fucale, defenceman Konrad Abeltshauser, and forward Martin Frk. Other all stars are Derrick Pouliot and Ty Rattie from the Winterhawks.

Although he did not garner all star status, the Winterhawks Seth Jones will some day skate in the National Hockey League. He is a fine defenceman, and is ranked in the top five draft-eligible players this year. Curiously, he did not seem destined to become a hockey player as a child. His father “Popeye’ Jones played in the National Basketball Association for several years.

Jones played for the Toronto Raptors at one point in his career. He tried to encourage his son towards basketball, in fact any other sport. Young Jones stuck to his guns, and will be rewarded for his perseverance come draft day. Seth has the tools to do well in the game, and is a giant.

The Memorial Cup tournament ranks just lower than the Grey Cup as a great sporting event for the whole country. Representatives are there from the three Canadian Hockey Leagues: the Western Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the Ontario Hockey League. It has the flavour of the football championship, with a little less booze, and not as many horses!

Prior to the final game, the league hosts a banquet to recognize players from across Canada. One of the Belleville Bulls was acknowledged with a fine piece of silver. Tyler Graovac received the award as the “Sportsman of the Year”. He led the Bulls in scoring with 38 goals and 35 assists in 60 games. He only spent 18 minutes in the “sin bin”, the lowest amount for any player listed among the OHL’s top 20 scorers. He recently signed with the Minnesota Wild.

Seth Jones won the award as the top prospect. The Player of the Year is Jonathan Drouin, from the Mooseheads. He played well in the final game, and had great chemistry with MacKinnon and Frk. The Goaltender of the Year is Patrik Bartosak from the Red Deer Rebels.

Connor McDavid is an up and coming star in the Ontario Hockey League with the Erie Otters. He did not win the Rookie of the Year award, but will star in the OHL for the next year or two. He was the most outstanding player in a recent World Under 18 tournament. An 18 year old from St. Petersburg, Russia, Valentin Zykov, was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Jones was also a finalist in that category.

The coach of the Halifax Mooseheads won the award as the Coach of the Year. Dominique Ducharme led the team to an impressive 58 win season for 120 points, best in the CHL. He hails from Joliette, Quebec, and is in his second season behind the bench.

Teams first played for the Memorial Cup in 1919. It was designed to honour those who had lost their lives in the First World War, particularly young hockey players. Next year’s championships will be held in London, again with the host team receiving a bye.

James Hurst

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