The Memorial Cup, a four-team round-robin tournament to determine the champion of the Canadian Hockey League, features the winners of the Ontario Hockey League (Guelph Storm), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (Rouyn-Noranda) and Western Hockey League (Prince Albert Raiders), and the host Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The event is being held at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from May 17-26, and features several NHL-drafted prospects and some eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.
In the second game of the Memorial Cup, Guelph defeated Rouyn-Noranda 5-2 on Saturday.
Here are three things we learned on the second day:
1. Toropchenko torches the opposition
Guelph forward Alexei Toropchenko, a fourth-round pick (No. 117) by the St. Louis Blues in the 2017 NHL Draft, had a natural hat trick in the first period.
With Guelph trailing 1-0, and killing a penalty, Toropchenko helped steal the puck in the offensive zone, spun and fired a shot past the glove of Rouyn-Noranda goalie Samuel Harvey at 11:00. He put Guelph ahead 2-1 at 13:07 with a great play in tight off a pass from defenseman Jack Hanley. Then he made it 3-1 with 1:37 left in the period when he took a stretch pass from Sean Durzi (Los Angeles Kings), broke in on Harvey and beat him between the pads.
Toropchenko is the first player to score three goals in one period of a Memorial Cup game since Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche) for Halifax in 2013.
He scored 17 goals in 62 regular-season OHL games and had 13 in 24 OHL playoff games.
"I think a lot of it is confidence," Guelph coach George Burnett said. "Once he started to score his confidence went through the roof. I think that's what you're seeing now, a young man that's out there, that feels good when he has the puck, that's playing at a high pace, that's big and heavy and plays the game hard and hurts when he hits. It's exciting to see him be rewarded for the work that he puts in every day."
2. Durzi continues to shine on offensive side
It's been a season full of change for Durzi, but one consistent has been his high-end offensive game.
The 20-year-old defenseman had three assists for Guelph. After the stretch pass for Toropchenko's third goal, he set up two goals in the second period. He assisted on a goal by MacKenzie Entwistle (Chicago Blackhawks) at 3:20, and then passed through the crease to Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens) with 45 seconds remaining.
Durzi's big start to the Memorial Cup continues his strong postseason; he was second among OHL defensemen in playoff scoring with 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 24 games. His defense partner, Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton Oilers) had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists).
A second-round pick (No. 52) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL Draft, Durzi was traded twice this season. The Maple Leafs made him part of the package sent to the Kings for defenseman Jake Muzzin on Jan. 28. That followed the Jan. 4 trade that sent him from Owen Sound to Guelph. He had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 20 regular-season games with Guelph and was a big part of their late-season push in the standings.
"Sean's capable of moving the puck as well as anybody in our league," Burnett said. "He plays a bit of a high-risk game at times, and he and Samorukov have made a nice pair. ... He really makes up for some of the things that might be considered a bit high risk but his ability to create off the rush, join the rush or create on the power play is very special."
3. Lauko scores for Rouyn-Noranda
Jakub Lauko, a third-round pick (No. 77) of the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Draft, did his best to keep his team in the game. The 19-year-old forward assisted on Vincent Marleau's goal at 2:17 of the first period and cut Rouyn-Noranda's deficit to 4-2 when he skated wide and beat Guelph goalie Anthony Popovich at 11:16 of the second period.
Lauko, who signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Bruins on Sept. 28, 2018, had an impressive preseason but was sent to Rouyn-Noranda, where he was fourth among Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 21 goals in 44 games; the three players ahead of him each played at least 60 games. His six goals and 13 points led all QMJHL rookies in the playoffs.
2019 Memorial Cup schedule and results
May 17: Halifax 4, Prince Albert 1
May 18: Guelph 5, Rouyn-Noranda 2
May 19: Halifax vs. Guelph (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
May 20: Rouyn-Noranda vs. Prince Albert (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
May 21: Guelph vs. Prince Albert (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
May 22: Halifax vs. Rouyn-Noranda (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS)
May 23: Tiebreaker, if necessary (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
May 24: Semifinal (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
May 26: Final (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)
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