Saturday, 15 May 2010

Memorial Cup Time!

The 2010 Memorial Cup sets up shop for the next two weeks in Brandon, Manitoba, and there's a good chance we could see a repeat winner. Last year, the Windsor Spitfires dramatically stole the show in Rimouski, Quebec after going 1-2 in the round-robin to finish fourth out of the four teams before tearing through the semi-final and final games to secure the Memorial Cup. Of course, Windsor is back this year as the OHL Champions, and they are joined by the Calgary Hitmen (WHL), the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL), and Brandon Wheat Kings (host team) as these four teams battle for Canadian Major Junior Hockey's biggest prize.

This won't be a preview of each team as there are a number of excellent reports on the Interwebs already. The Sportsnet reviews done by Patrick King are top-notch, and I definitely recommend clicking that link above. King is one of the best when it comes to covering the CHL, and his reports on each team are excellent.

Last night, the defending Memorial Cup Champions and the host team opened the 2010 Memorial Cup. Windsor came in with the hopes of becoming only the fifth CHL team to repeat as Memorial Cup Champions, and the first team to do so since the 1995 Kamloops Blazers. Brandon, on the other hand, was looking to send a message to the other CHL Champions with an upset of the defending champs.

Let's just say that Brandon looked good on the ice in terms of their uniform choice, but had little else from which to rally. The jerseys, in keeping with the Memorial Cup tradition, saw the host team wear a specially-designed jersey honouring the men and women of the Armed Forces. Brandon has a special link with the Canadian Army as CFB Shilo is a mere 20 minutes away from the Manitoba city.

From the MeiGray site:

"The opening game jerseys were designed by the Canadian Hockey League in conjunction with the Brandon Wheat Kings in honour of the Canadian Army and specifically the men and women, past, present and future of CFB Shilo. CFB Shilo is Manitoba’s only army base and is located approximately 20 minutes from the Keystone Centre where the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup is being held.

The Memorial Cup was originally donated in 1919 by the Ontario Hockey Association as a memorial to those young men and women who had given their lives in the defence of Canada during World War I. The 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup marks the 92nd time that the Memorial Cup will be awarded.

All proceeds from this auction will go towards supporting the Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund. The poppy fund is designed to support veterans and their families, buy hospital equipment, support cadet groups, and provide student bursaries."
The Wheat Kings looked mighty impressive last night as they skated out in these beauties. I absolutely love Brandon's colour scheme, and, while some will say that this is a copy of the Blackhawks' alternate, the Wheat Kings pull it off extremely well with their colours. Of course, in comparison to previous Memorial Cups, it holds its own with Rimouski's Memorial Cup jersey and Kitchener's Memorial Cup jersey.

Windsor, not to be outdone, decided to shine on the ice. At 2:01, Windsor went up 1-0 on Kenny Ryan's first of the tournament. That was followed up by Scott Timmins' first goal of the tournament at 3:25. 1:02 later, Adam Henrique had the Spitfires out to a 3-0 lead. 18 seconds later, Taylor Hall had his first of the tournament to put Windsor up 4-0. Just 4:45 in, and the Spitfires were up 4-0. Wow.

And just for good measure, the Spitfires took a 5-0 lead into the dressing room after twenty minutes when Taylor Hall notched his second of the game and tournament on the powerplay at 18:23. The Spitfires showed Brandon why they had swept three of their four OHL playoff series, and had rallied back from a 3-0 deficit in their series against Plymouth. This Spitfires team is a well-oiled scoring machine.

There was a scary moment in the first period as Brandon defenceman Travis Hamonic lined up Windsor's Taylor Hall and drilled him into the end-boards face-first just 39 seconds into the game. Hall laid in a crumpled heap of humanity for a few minutes before skating off under his own power, but it seemed that was all Brandon could muster in terms of dominating the play in the first period.

Adam Henrique would score his second of the game and tournament just 1:15 into the second period to put Windsor up 6-0. The bleeding didn't stop for Brandon as Timmins had his second of the game and tournament at 6:47 for a 7-0 Spitfires lead. Dale Mitchell jumped in on the scoring with his first at 14:49 to pace Windsor to an 8-0 lead. Thankfully, Aaron Lewadniuk broke the goose egg for the Wheat Kings with his first goal of the tournament at 14:57 of the second period to close the gap to 8-1. However, Zack Kassian restored the eight-goal cushion on the powerplay at 16:21 with his first of the tournament. The Spitfires took a 9-1 lead into the intermission.

Brnadon's Matt Calvert scored his first of the tournament just 35 seconds into the third period to make it 9-2. Jay Fehr made it 9-3 at the 13:28 mark, but it was clear that Windsor was coasting in an effort to not suffer any injuries. When the final horn sounded, the 5381 fans saw the dominant Windsor Spitfires open the 2010 Memorial Cup with 9-3 victory, running over the hometown Wheat Kings.

The Calgary Hitmen will play the Moncton Wildcats at 3PM ET today, and you can catch the action on Rogers' Sportsnet in Canada, and on the NHL Network in the USA. While no expects a blow-out in today's game, anything can happen at the Memorial Cup!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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