The prestigious Memorial Cup tournament got underway over the weekend and a Flyers prospect has the opportunity to capture the title for the second straight year.
Isaac Ratcliffe, the club's second round pick at 35th overall in 2017, captained the Guelph Storm to the OHL Championships and had played 24 games in an 52-day span from Mar 22-May 12. After a six-day break, they opened the tournament with games on Saturday and Sunday.
Guelph stormed out of the gates with a 5-2 win over QMJHL finalist, Rouyn-Noranda, where Ratcliffe recorded a primary assist, but suffered a 4-2 loss on Sunday to the Q-Champions, Halifax Mooseheads, who are also the host-city of the tournament. The Mooseheads are 2-0-0 in the tournament and with four points, have already punched their way to the semifinal game on Friday.
The Storm took six penalties in the final 30 minutes of Sunday's game to shoot themselves in the foot in the loss. Ratcliffe took responsibility, and like so many times throughout the playoffs, know his team has the ability to respond the right way.
"It's a tournament where the little things are going to get called and I was on the short end of a lot of that and that can't happen," said Ratcliffe on chlmemorialcup.com after the game. "They're a fast team, they play a lot off the transition and we let them do that tonight. This one's on us. They didn't do anything too special tonight, but we gave them a lot of chances and that can't happen in this tournament."
Monday is a day off for Guelph, who have one game left in the round robin when they take on the WHL Champion, Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday.
"It's a short tournament so we have to come back hot and have a short memory on this one," added Ratcliffe. "We have to be better coming in the next day. We have to be ready to work, ready to compete and make the right decisions."
The Memorial Cup will serve as a "finale" of sorts for Ratcliffe as a junior. The 6-6, 204-pound winger signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers in August of 2017 and will turn professional for the 2019-20 season.
Last year German Rubtsov, the Flyers first round pick at 22nd overall in 2016, helped lead the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to the QMJHL Championship and took the Memorial Cup Championship. Should Ratcliffe and the Storm take the Memorial Cup, he will also be the second Flyers prospect to capture a championship this season, as Noah Cates (the Flyers' fifth round pick in 2017) helped Minnesota-Duluth win the NCAA National Title in April.