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Top draft prospects lead London to Memorial Cup final

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

The London Knights have looked unstoppable in reaching the Memorial Cup championship game for the third time in their history.

London, winners of 16 straight, haven't lost a game since a 4-3 overtime decision against Owen Sound on Apr. 1. They finished the Memorial Cup round robin competition with three wins, outscoring their opponents 20-5. The championship game is Sunday at Enmax Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta (2:30 PM MST; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

Several top prospects eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft have played a major role in helping the Knights to the championship game.

Left wing Matthew Tkachuk, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 draft, has three goals and six points in three Memorial Cup games. Tkachuk fell awkwardly in the second period of a 5-2 win against Rouyn-Noranda on Tuesday, according to the London Free Press, but returned in the third period and scored his second goal of the game.

"I can't talk about that," Tkachuk said when asked about the injury. He sustained a lower leg injury during the OHL championship series against Niagara but had four goals and seven points in a four-game sweep.

Tkachuk, the son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk, plays a productive role on the most productive offensive line in the Canadian Hockey League this season with right wing Mitchell Marner (two goals, 13 points) and center Christian Dvorak (six goals, 10 points). Marner was chosen No. 4 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 draft and Dvorak was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the second round (No. 58) of the 2014 draft.

Tkachuk has one goal and four points on the power play; London is 9-for-20 with the man advantage in the Memorial Cup.

"My linemates have been awesome," Marner, the tournament scoring leader, told the London Free Press. "We've stayed as a unit, stayed together, and they've really helped me out a lot."

Left wing Max Jones, No. 14 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking, has two goals and three points, and center Cliff Pu, No. 75 on Central Scouting's ranking, has one goal and three points. Jones, who missed more than a month of action when he served a 12-game suspension during the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, seems to have regained his regular-season form.

"The two games (back) in the (league) final, I was just kicking off rust," he said. "I was really excited and just creating things and making things happen and playing the body. I thought I was back on my game."

Defenceman Olli Juolevi, No. 5 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, leads all defencemen in the Memorial Cup with six points, all assists.

Also playing a vital role has been London goaltender Tyler Parsons, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies. Parsons (6-foot-1, 184 pounds) leads all goalies in the Memorial Cup with a 1.79 GAA and .944 save percentage. He has allowed five goals on 89 shots.

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