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Memorial Cup Preview

Windsor, Saint John, Seattle, Erie vie for Canadian Hockey League championship

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2017 Memorial Cup tournament to determine the champion of the Canadian Hockey League will take place at WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, beginning Friday and concluding with the championship game May 28.

The four-team, round-robin tournament includes the host team, Windsor, along with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Saint John, Western Hockey League champion Seattle, and Ontario Hockey League champion Erie.

Since the round-robin format was introduced in 1972, the OHL has won 16 times, including last season when the London Knights won 3-2 in overtime against QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda in the championship. Erie eliminated London with a 5-4 overtime win in Game 7 of the 2017 OHL Western Conference Semifinal.

Here's a closer look at the participating teams:

 

ERIE OTTERS

Coach: Kris Knoblauch

Memorial Cup championships: None

How they got here: The Otters went 16-6 in the OHL playoffs on the way to their first OHL championship in 15 years. Erie defeated Sarnia in the first round 4-0; London in the second round 4-3, Owen Sound in the Western Conference Final 4-2 and Mississauga in the J. Ross Robertson Cup 4-1. 

NHL prospects: Forwards Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks, 2016 NHL Draft, No. 39), Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes, 2015, No. 3), Anthony Cirelli (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2015, No. 72), Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2016, No. 58), Warren Foegele (Carolina Hurricanes, 2014, No. 61), Kyle Pettit (Vancouver Canucks, 2014, No. 156); defensemen Jordan Sambrook (Detroit Red Wings, 2016, No. 137), Erik Cernak (Los Angeles Kings, 2015, No. 43),  

Top 2017 draft-eligible prospects (CSS final ranking): Forwards Ivan Lodnia (No. 36, North American skaters), German Poddubnyi (No. 130, North American skaters).

 

SAINT JOHN SEADOGS

Coach: Danny Flynn

Memorial Cup championships: 2011

How they got here: The Seadogs went 16-2 in the playoffs and won the QMJHL championship for the third time (2011, 2012, 2017) in seven seasons. Saint John defeated Rimouski 4-0 in the first round, Val-d'Or in the quarterfinal round 4-0, Chicoutimi in the semifinal round 4-2, and Blainville-Boisbriand in the President's Cup 4-0.

NHL prospects: Forwards Mathieu Joseph (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2015, No. 120), Matthew Highmore (Chicago Blackhawks, 2017, free agent), Spencer Smallman (Carolina Hurricanes, 2015, No. 138), Julien Gauthier (Carolina Hurricanes, 2016, No. 21), Bokondji Imama (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2015, No. 180), Samuel Dove-McFalls (Philadelphia Flyers, 2015, No. 98), Nathan Noel (Chicago Blackhawks, 2016, No. 113); defensemen Thomas Chabot (Ottawa Senators, 2015, No. 18), Simon Bourque (Montreal Canadiens, 2015, No. 177), Jakub Zboril (Boston Bruins, 2015, No. 13); goaltender Callum Booth (Carolina Hurricanes, 2015, No. 93).

Top 2017 draft-eligible prospects (CSS final ranking): Forward Cedric Pare (No. 146, North American skaters); goaltender Alex D'Orio (No. 13, North American goaltenders).

 

SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS

Coach: Steve Konowalchuk

Memorial Cup championships: None

How they got here: The Thunderbirds finished 16-4 in the WHL playoffs and will be making their second appearance in the Memorial Cup in the 40-year history of the franchise. Seattle defeated Tri-City in the first round 4-0, Everett in the second round 4-0, Kelowna in the Western Conference Final 4-2, and Regina in the Ed Chynoweth Cup 4-2.

NHL prospects: Forwards Ryan Gropp (New York Rangers, 2015, No. 41), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders, 2015, No. 16), Keegan Kolesar (Columbus Blue Jackets, 2015, No. 69); defenseman Ethan Bear (Edmonton Oilers, 2015, No. 124).

Top 2017 draft-eligible prospects (CSS final ranking): Forwards Sami Moilanen (No. 110, North American skaters), Matthew Wedman (No. 210, North American skaters); defenseman Jarret Tyszka (No. 41, North American skaters).

 

WINDSOR SPITFIRES

Coach: Rocky Thompson

Memorial Cup championships: 2009, 2010

How they got here: Windsor lost 3-2 to London in Game 7 of the OHL quarterfinal round, but automatically qualify for the Memorial Cup as the tournament host.

NHL prospects: Forwards Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2015, No. 61), c (Ottawa Senators, 2016, No. 11), Graham Knott (Chicago Blackhawks, 2015, No. 54), Julius Nattinen (Anaheim Ducks, 2015, No. 59), Jeremiah Addison (Montreal Canadiens, 2015, No. 207), Cristiano DiGiacinto (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2014, No. 170); defensemen Mikhail Sergachev (Montreal Canadiens, 2016, No. 9), Logan Stanley (Winnipeg Jets, 2016, No. 18), Jalen Chatfield (Vancouver Canucks, 2017, FA), Sean Day (New York Rangers, 2016, No. 81).

Top 2017 draft-eligible prospects (CSS final ranking): Forwards Gabriel Vilardi (No. 4, North American skaters), Lucas Boka (No. 201, North American skaters), Cole Purboo (No. 189, North American skaters); goaltender Michael DiPietro (No. 4, North American goalies).

 

2017 Memorial Cup schedule

May 19: Saint John vs. Windsor (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 8 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 20: Erie vs. Seattle (3 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 7 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 21: Windsor vs. Seattle (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports)
May 22: Erie vs. Saint John (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 8 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 23: Seattle vs. Saint John (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 8 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 24: Windsor vs. Erie (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 9 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 25: Tiebreaker, if necessary (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 8 p.m., NHLN)
May 26: Semifinal (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports; 8 p.m. ET, NHLN)
May 28: Final (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports)

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