Cleat Geeks

Memorial Cup: a gripping finish to a sensational season

The 97th Memorial Cup proved to be a fitting end to an exciting Canadian Hockey League (CHL) season, and an even better send off to one of the most storied buildings in hockey history.

CHL_BIGThe CHL is made up of three leagues. The Western Hockey League (WHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). At the end of each season, a champion is named in the three respective leagues and along with the host city, the four teams compete for the Memorial Cup.  

 

 

 

With teams in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Michigan the CHL is truly an international league, and graduates more players to the NHL than any other amateur league. Even some of the world’s best European players have spent time in the CHL learning a more North American style of hockey in hopes of obtaining or securing a pro roster spot.

The host team of this year’s tournament was the Quebec Remparts of the QJMHL. Also representing the Q, were the league champions and former junior team of Sidney Crosby, the Rimouski Oceanic. Serving as Ontario league champs were the Oshawa Generals, while the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL made up the fourth and final team competing in the cup.drai

One of the biggest draws for the tournament is the amount of high-level future NHL talent on display. This year’s tournament did not disappoint. Anthony Duclair of the Remparts and Leon Draisaitl of the Kelowna Rockets each spent time in the NHL this season. Duclair a 3rd round pick in 2013, played 18 regular season games with the Rangers before he was lent to the Canadian junior team for this year’s World Juniors. Draisaitl, the eventual tournament MVP and last June’s third overall pick, centered Edmonton’s third line on-and-off- for 39 games. Accompanying Draisaitl and the Rockets was a talented collection of hockey players. Rockets defenseman Josh Morrisey and Madison Bowey each have been drafted to NHL clubs and, with Duclair, helped Canada win gold at this year’s World Juniors. Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier was also on that gold medal winning team. His Oceanic were the first team eliminated from the tournament. 

Then there was the Oshawa Generals. It will certainly be interesting to revisit their roster in a few years and see how many players eventually make it to the NHL. Oshawa has eight players already drafted by NHL teams. Last years fifth overall pick, Michael Dal Colle, amassed a team high 93 points in just 56 games.oshawa

On Sunday it was the Kelowna Rockets and Oshawa Generals who outlasted 58 other teams to meet up in the final of the Memorial Cup in Quebec City, Canada. With some of the best young talent the CHL has to offer, it was one of the more unlikely of players who proved to be the hero. With the tying goal and eventual overtime winner, a player passed up twice in the OHL draft, Anthony Cirelli of the Oshawa Generals helped the franchise clinch its 5th Memorial Cup title.

 

 

Original Pepsi Colisee

Pepsi Colisee after renovations in 1980

Pepsi Colisee after renovations in 1980

At 1:28 into overtime, Cirelli scored the last goal the Colisee Pepsi arena would ever see. Built in 1949, it was the eventual home of the Quebec Nordiques and an institution in amateur hockey. Names like Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, Don Cherry, Sidney Crosby and Peter Forsberg all played in this arena. It was one of the last in North America that could lay claim to housing the games newest and oldest stars (if even just for an international peewee tournament which runs every winter at the Colisee Pepsi).

 

 

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