GLENDALE -- Playing his final season of junior hockey, Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome is eager to start the 2017 Memorial Cup this weekend.
"My level of excitement is huge," Strome said earlier this week. "This is obviously a great event with a lot of great players and great teams … and it's something not too many people get to experience. We're fortunate enough to be there and looking forward to the opportunity."
Strome is the captain of the Erie Otters, the champs of the Ontario Hockey League. The Otters and three other teams will compete for the Memorial Cup in a round-robin tournament that starts Friday in Windsor, Ontario. The event pits a host team (Windsor) and the champions of the Canadian Hockey League's three member leagues: the OHL (Erie), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (Saint John) and the Western Hockey League (Seattle).
Erie begins play on Saturday vs. Seattle at noon Arizona time.
Video: Dylan Strome discusses reaching the 2017 Memorial Cup
Strome, whom the Coyotes drafted third overall in 2015, notched 34 points in 22 OHL playoff games, second only to teammate Alex DeBrincat, who had 38 points. Four other Otters ranked in the top 10 in OHL playoff point production.
"I think the key for us is just how deep we are," Strome said. "Sometimes when one guy isn't rolling, another guy definitely steps up, and we've needed that."
The Memorial Cup will be well attended in Windsor and each game will be televised on NHL Network in the United States. In other words, there will be plenty of hype and pressure surrounding the games.
"We're going to have to do our best to block that out," Strome said. "We've got a lot of family and friends coming, but at the same time we're there for one reason and that's to play hockey."
Strome captained the Otters to a 16-6 record in the OHL playoffs. He's expecting the competition to be stiffer at the Memorial Cup against teams, like Erie, that know how to win championships.
"I think we're going to have to sharpen up," Strome said. "(Winning) the OHL is one thing, but going up against the best in the whole country is another. We won the best out of 20 teams. Now we're trying to win the best out of 60 teams."