With four of the best teams in major junior hockey convening in Saskatoon, things were bound to get interesting at the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
For the second consecutive year (and the second time in tournament history) all four teams sport a 1-1 record through the first two games of head-to-head competition, ensuring that a tiebreaker will take place on Thursday night at the Credit Union Centre. Monday night contributed the latest entertaining twist of this Memorial Cup, as the Portland Winterhawks exploded for three straight goals to put away a furious comeback by the London Knights.
London, down 3-0 and with things looking bleak after a sweet goal by Portland's Ty Rattie, put its work boots on as you would expect Dale Hunter's team to do and made things really exciting in a hurry. Scott Harrington scored the 3-1 goal and it was followed by Bo Horvat making it a one-goal game late in the second period, setting up for a third period that won't soon be forgotten by those who follow junior hockey and the Memorial Cup.
Alex Broadhurst's tying goal in the early stages of the third period looked as if it would be a breaking point for the Winterhawks, but Portland's poise came to the fore.
The Winterhawks answered with three goals of their own - two of which, 23 seconds apart, came moments after the Knights tied the game. Derrick Pouliot and Chase De Leo did the permanent damage and made sure the Winterhawks would escape the first two games of the round robin with a split, but it didn't come easy with the game hanging in the balance.
- Blue Jackets prospect Josh Anderson did not record a point in the Knights' 6-3 loss to Portland. He picked up a pair of penalty minutes, but was his usual, agitating self and played a physical game.
- London's next round robin game is tonight against the QMJHL champion Halifax Mooseheads, arguably the best team in all of junior hockey. Top NHL draft prospects Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin get the headlines for the Mooseheads, but don't look past goaltender Zach Fucale, who makes a habit of keeping Halifax in close games.
- Halifax probably won't be in a great mood after splitting its first two games, including a 5-2 loss to Saskatoon on Sunday night.
- It's been an impressive Memorial Cup for MacKinnon thus far: the player widely regarded as the best offensive player in this year's draft class has scored four goals and five points in the Mooseheads' first two games of the tournament.