The OHL preseason is now in full swing and many of the top players in the league are off to their respective NHL rookie camps. A successful run there will lead to a main camp invite, and perhaps beyond.
The best was saved for last at this year’s Mastercard Memorial Cup. A tournament that featured three blowout decisions through six round robin games ended with the closest and wildest affair on Sunday with the host Windsor Spitfires defeating the OHL champion Erie Otters 4-3.
Taylor Raddysh hopes he has one more big game left in him on Sunday. But if he doesn’t, he’ll be perfectly fine with one of his Erie Otters teammates having a moment of their own too. “None of the guys care who scores, so long as we come out with the win in the end,” said Raddysh, the leading scorer at the Mastercard Memorial Cup with 11 points as the Otters get set to face the host Windsor Spitfires in Sunday’s final.
One thing everyone can count on is a different Saint John Sea Dogs team showing up Friday night in the Mastercard Memorial Cup semifinal. Armed with a second wind, the QMJHL champs will face off against the OHL champion Erie Otters, a team that ran away with a 12-5 thrashing the last time the teams met on Monday.
Dylan Strome couldn’t help but interrupt a reporter’s question after he was notified of the OHL’s recent dominance at the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Dylan Strome, Mathew Barzal and Thomas Chabot are all at the Mastercard Memorial Cup playing prominent roles for their teams.
After 68 games (72 in the WHL), four playoff rounds, countless hours spent at practices and on the bus, it all comes down to this. The Erie Otters, Saint John Sea Dogs and Seattle Thunderbirds all captured championships in their respective leagues and will push a little further through four to six games in an effort to claim junior hockey supremacy at the Memorial Cup.
The Erie Otters have finally found that winning formula. Captain Dylan Strome and OHL defenceman/overage player of the year Darren Raddysh have both been part of the Otters since 2013 and leading into this year, they were part of some very strong teams.
Major junior coaches demand a lot of their players and three teams delivered in a big way with championship seasons. They’ll now join the host Windsor Spitfires at this year’s Memorial Cup, where it’s up to the coaches to guide the way as everyone gives an extra push towards national glory.
Many expected that the 2017 Memorial Cup would feature 1, 2 and 3 from CHL’s Top Ten. But Seattle defeated the No. 1 Regina Pats to leave us with 2 and 3 in the Otters and Sea Dogs – and to remind us that anything can happen.
All three CHL leagues are down to two teams, and the final round is set to begin this week. All three league powerhouses have advanced to the finals, but they’ll have to overcome some hot underdogs to advance to the Memorial Cup.
The OHL final is set now that the Erie Otters defeated the Owen Sound Attack in their six-game Western Conference final to set up a series against the East champion Mississauga Steelheads.
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