MONTREAL – In a few days, Michael McCarron will attempt to end his first Major Junior campaign in style at the Memorial Cup.
The 96th edition of the CHL end-of-season extravaganza will kick off at the Budweiser Gardens on Friday night. This year’s tournament will feature the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL, the Guelph Storm of the OHL and the host club London Knights, a team which includes Michael McCarron, the 2013 first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens.
McCarron’s 2013-14 campaign, his first under coach Dale Hunter, has been a meaningful one for the 19 year-old forward. Arriving from the US National Team Development Program which he had represented for the past two seasons, McCarron gradually adapted to the OHL’s pace and style of play. The Grosse Pointe, Michigan native only tallied five goals and 13 points in 35 games between September and December, but stepped up his production with nine goals and 21 points from January to March to end the season strongly. In all, he ended the regular season with 14 goals, 20 assists, a plus-11 rating and 120 penalty minutes in 66 games.
Despite placing third in the OHL with 103 points in the regular season, the Knights were beaten by Guelph in the second round of the league playoffs. For his part, McCarron notched three goals and five points in nine postseason games. Friday’s Memorial Cup opener against Val-d’Or will be his team’s first outing since April 11.
In recent years, the Montreal Canadiens have been well represented at the Memorial Cup. Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John, 2011), Michael Bournival and Morgan Ellis (Shawinigan, 2012), and Zachary Fucale (Halifax, 2013) have all lifted the Cup at the end of the tournament. In addition, Jarred Tirnordi (London, 2012), Darren Dietz and Dalton Thrower (Saskatoon, 2013) have also taken part in the springtime classic. Prospect Charles Hudon and Jeremy Gregoire came close to joining McCarron in London, but their Baie-Comeau Drakkar were defeated in a seventh game by the Foreurs in the QMJHL finals.
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Jack Han.