Sunday, 26 May 2013

Mooseheads Claim The Crown

Four teams met at the start of the Mastercard Memorial Cup to determine the Canadian Hockey League's top team. The Saskatoon Blades, hosting the event, were the first team to be sent packing as they lost in the three-versus-four game to the OHL's London Knights. London would advance to play the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, and Portland would send them back to Ontario. That left the top two teams in the CHL this season to face-off against one another for the biggest prize in Canadian major junior hockey as the Portland Winterhawks and the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads met tonight.

Halifax came out en fuego as they pumped three goals past Mac Carruth and the Winterhawks in the opening frame. The key in all of this? The top line for Halifax of Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon, and Martin Frk had seven points on the three goals. Performances like that are why the Mooseheads is a top team in the nation.

The second period was a different game, though, as the Winterhawks rallied for a pair of goals to close the deficit to one goal. It could have been a tie game had Ty Rattie put a stick on a puck he handled in the crease, but rubber never hit wood and the goal that was awarded on the ice was called back. Nevertheless, the two teams entered the final frame with Halifax leading by a single marker.

Halifax looked like they were in the driver's seat after going up 5-2 in the third period, but two goals late in the period made it a 5-4 game with 1:16 to play. Tension was high, but, in the crunch, good players deliver and the Mooseheads got another clutch goal. Memorial Cup MVP Nathan MacKinnon finished off his hat trick with an empty net goal that iced the championship for Halifax, giving them the 6-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks to claim victory!

Halifax was simply incredible this season. Including the QMJHL Playoffs and the Memorial Cup, the Mooseheads put together a 77-8-4 record this season! If you're into winning percentages, that's a ridiculous .865 winning percentage. Halifax also went 66-0-1 when leading after two periods, showing that not only can they grab a lead, but they can defend a lead as well. Needless to say, this team was dominant this season.

With Nathan MacKinnon's incredible performance in the final of three goals and two assists, there will be much debate as to which player will go first overall when the Colorado Avalanche step to the podium. You can't discount the impact that Jonathan Drouin had tonight either as his five assists were crucial in allowing MacKinnon to flourish. Seth Jones was kept in check for the majority of the evening, but he's still the best defenceman in the draft and that fact cannot be overlooked as well. Regardless of who goes first, the top three players chosen should make Colorado, Florida, and Tampa Bay much better teams.

Congratulations go out to the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads on their first Memorial Cup Championship in franchise history! They absolutely deserved the honor after their outstanding game tonight and overall through the season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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