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Lightning prospects set to face each other in 2012 Memorial Cup

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

There is a possibility that Bolts prospects Vladislav Namestnikov and Danick Gauthier could one day win a championship as Tampa Bay Lightning teammates

But for now at least, they’ll each try to win one as merely the other’s opponent.

Both Namestnikov and Gauthier helped their respective teams, the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, reach the 2012 Memorial Cup, where they will be joined by the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League and the host club, the Shawinigan Cataractes, also of the QMJHL.

The Memorial Cup is a four-team round-robin tournament that features the league champions from each of the three Canadian junior leagues (OHL, WHL, QMJHL), as well as a host team. This year’s tournament kicks off on May 18 and will run through May 27.

The Knights’ road to the Memorial Cup involved sweeping the eighth-seeded Windsor Spitfires in four consecutive games, and then besting the Saginaw Spirit four-games-to-two before completing another sweep, this time of the Kitchener Rangers, in the OHL’s Western Conference Final. London then captured the OHL championship by defeating the Eastern Conference champion Niagara Ice Dogs four-games-to-one.

Namestnikov recorded four goals and 18 points in 19 games for the Knights, ranking third on the team in postseason scoring and 13th overall among all OHL postseason skaters. He also recorded at least a point in 11 of his team’s final 12 OHL playoff games and in each contest of the five-game series for the OHL championship versus Niagara.

His Knights teammate, Seth Griffith, who attended the Lightning’s 2011 development camp last summer as an invitee, led London throughout the OHL playoffs with 10 goals and 23 points in 19 games.

Saint John, meanwhile, arrives at the tournament after completing consecutive four-game sweeps over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the first two rounds of the QMJHL playoffs, then defeating the Chicoutimi Sagueneens four-games-to-one and the Rimouski Oceanic four-games-to-zero in the league championship.

Gauthier finished fifth on the Sea Dogs in postseason scoring with 13 goals and 21 points in 17 games, while his point total was also good for 10th among all QMJHL postseason skaters.

Namestnikov was selected by the Lightning in the first round, 27th overall, at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, while Gauthier was signed by the Lightning on Mar. 2.

Gauthier also previously won the Memorial Cup as a member of the Sea Dogs during the 2010-11 season.

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