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Memorial Cup preview

Host Regina, Acadie-Bathurst, Hamilton, Swift Current vie for Canadian Hockey League championship

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

The 100th Memorial Cup tournament, to determine the champion of the Canadian Hockey League, will take place at Brandt Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, beginning Friday and concluding with the championship game May 27.

The four-team, round-robin tournament includes the host team, Regina of the Western Hockey League, along with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Acadie-Bathurst, WHL champion Swift Current, and Ontario Hockey League champion Hamilton.

Regina, the oldest franchise in Canadian junior hockey, dating to 1917, is celebrating its 100th season. It has played in the Memorial Cup championship game a record 12 times, including the inaugural final in 1919, and has won the championship three times (1925, 1930, 1974).

The host team has won 10 times since the current four-team round-robin format was adopted in 1983, most recently last season when Windsor won 4-3 against Erie in an all-OHL championship game. It was the third straight year an OHL team won the Memorial Cup, following London in 2016 and Oshawa in 2015. In the past 35 tournaments, the WHL has won 16 times, the OHL 12 times, and the QMJHL seven times.

Here's a closer look at the participating teams:

 

ACADIE-BATHURST TITAN

Coach: Mario Pouliot

Memorial Cup championships: None

How they got here: The Titan went 16-4 in the playoffs and won their second QMJHL championship since relocating to New Brunswick in 1998. Acadie-Bathurst defeated Chicoutimi in six games in the first round, Sherbrooke in four games in the quarterfinals, Victoriaville in four games in the semifinals, and Blainville-Boisbriand in six games in the league final.

NHL prospects: Forwards Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks, 2017 NHL Draft, No. 60), German Rubtsov (Philadelphia Flyers, 2016, No. 22); goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick (St. Louis Blues, 2016, No. 59).

Top 2018 draft-eligible prospects (NHL Central Scouting final ranking in parenthesis): Forward Justin Ducharme (No. 103, North American skaters); defensemen Noah Dobson (No. 5, North American skaters), Michal Ivan (No. 169, North American skaters).

 

HAMILTON BULLDOGS

Coach: John Gruden

Memorial Cup championships: None

How they got here: The Bulldogs went 16-5 in the OHL playoffs on the way to their first league championship. Hamilton defeated Ottawa in five games in the first round, Niagara in five games in the second round, Kingston in five games in the Eastern Conference Final, and Sault Ste. Marie in six games in the league final.

NHL prospects: Forwards William Bitten (Montreal Canadiens, 2016, No. 70), Nicholas Caamano (Dallas Stars, 2016, No. 146), MacKenzie Entwistle (Arizona Coyotes, 2017, No. 69), Matthew Strome (Philadelphia Flyers, 2017, No. 106), Marian Studenic (New Jersey Devils, 2017, No. 143), Robert Thomas (St. Louis Blues, 2017, No. 20); defensemen Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016, No. 179), Riley Stillman (Florida Panthers, 2016, No. 114); goaltender Kaden Fulcher (Detroit Red Wings, free agent, Oct. 3).

Top 2018 draft-eligible prospects: Forwards Isaac Nurse (No. 180, North American skaters), Brandon Saigeon (No. 147, North American skaters); goaltender Nick Donofrio (No. 31, North American goaltenders).

 

REGINA PATS

Coach: John Paddock

Memorial Cup championships: 3 (1925, 1930, 1974)

How they got here: Regina lost 3-2 to Swift Current in Game 7 of the first round of the WHL playoffs April 2, but automatically qualified for the Memorial Cup as the tournament host.

NHL prospects: Forwards Jesse Gabrielle (Boston Bruins, 2015, No. 105), Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers, free agent, Dec. 28), Nick Henry (Colorado Avalanche, 2017, No. 94), Jake Leschyshyn (Vegas Golden Knights, 2017, No. 62), Sam Steel (Anaheim Ducks, 2016, No. 30); defensemen Cale Fleury (Montreal Canadiens, 2017, No. 87), Libor Hajek (New York Rangers, trade with Tampa Bay Lightning, Feb. 26), Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks, 2016, No. 85).

Top 2018 draft-eligible prospects: Goaltender Max Paddock (No. 22, North American goaltenders).

 

SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS

Coach: Manny Viveiros

Memorial Cup championships: One (1989)

How they got here: The Broncos finished 16-10 in the WHL playoffs and will be making their third appearance in the Memorial Cup. Swift Current defeated Regina in seven games in the first round, Moose Jaw in seven games in the second round, Lethbridge in six games in the Eastern Conference Final, and Everett in six games to win the league championship.

NHL prospects: Forwards Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames, free agent, Nov. 16), Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers, 2017, No. 40), Beck Malenstyn (Washington Capitals, 2016, No. 145), Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes, 2017, No. 128); defensemen Josh Anderson (Colorado Avalanche, 2016, No. 71), Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils, free agent, Oct. 3, 2016); goaltender Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers, 2017, No. 78).

Top 2018 draft-eligible prospects: Defenseman Artyom Minulin (No. 186, North American skaters); goaltender Joel Hofer (No. 7, North American goaltenders).

 

2018 Memorial Cup schedule

May 18: Hamilton vs. Regina (10 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, TVAS2)

May 19: Swift Current vs. Acadie-Bathurst (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN1, TVAS)

May 20: Regina vs. Acadie-Bathurst (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, SN360, TVAS)

May 21: Swift Current vs. Hamilton (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS2)

May 22: Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton (8 p.m. ET; SN, SN360)

May 23: Regina vs. Swift Current (10 p.m. ET; SN, SN360)

May 24: Tiebreaker, if necessary (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN)

May 25: Semifinal (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN)

May 27: Final (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN)

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