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Memorial Cup preview

Host Halifax, Guelph, Prince Albert, Rouyn-Noranda vie for Canadian Hockey League championship

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The 101st Memorial Cup tournament to determine the champion of the Canadian Hockey League will take place at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, beginning Friday and concluding with the championship game May 26.

The four-team, round-robin tournament includes the host team, Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, along with Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph, Western Hockey League champion Prince Albert, and QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda.

Halifax, which is hosting the tournament for the first time since 2000, last won the Memorial Cup in 2013 when they were led by forwards Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche) and Jonathan Drouin (Montreal Canadiens).

The host team has won 10 times since the current four-team round-robin format was adopted in 1983, most recently in 2017 when Windsor defeated Erie 4-3 in an all-OHL championship game. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) won 3-0 against host Regina (WHL) in the 2018 Memorial Cup championship. In the past 36 tournaments, the WHL has won 16 times, the OHL 12 times, and the QMJHL eight times.

Here's a closer look at the participating teams:



Coach: Marc Habscheid

Memorial Cup championships: One (1985)

How they got here: The Raiders finished 16-7 in the WHL playoffs and will be making their second appearance in the Memorial Cup. Prince Albert swept Red Deer in four games in the first round, defeated Saskatoon in six games in the second round, Edmonton in six games in the conference final, and Vancouver in seven games to win their first league championship since 1985.

NHL prospects: Forwards Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks, No. 111, 2016 NHL Draft), Cole Fonstad (Montreal Canadiens, No. 128, 2018 Draft), Parker Kelly (Ottawa Senators, signed Sept. 19, 2017); goalie Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs, No. 110, 2017 Draft).

Top 2019 draft-eligible prospects (NHL Central Scouting final ranking in parenthesis): Forwards Brett Leason (No. 25, North American skaters), Aliaksei Protas (No. 44, North American skaters).



Coach: George Burnett

Memorial Cup championships: None

How they got here: The Storm went 16-8 in the OHL playoffs on the way to their fourth league championship and first since 2014. Guelph swept Kitchener in four games in the first round, then defeated London in seven games in the second round, Saginaw in seven games in the conference final, and Ottawa in six games in the league final, winning the last four games.

NHL prospects: Forwards Cameron Hillis (Montreal Canadiens, No. 66, 2018 NHL Draft), Nick Suzuki (Vegas Golden Knights, No. 13, 2017 Draft; traded to Canadiens, Sept. 10, 2018), MacKenzie Entwistle (Arizona Coyotes, No. 69, 2017 Draft; traded to Chicago Blackhawks July 12, 2018), Alexei Toropchenko (St. Louis Blues, No. 113, 2017 Draft), Liam Hawel (Dallas Stars, No. 101, 2017 Draft), Nate Schnarr (Arizona Coyotes, No. 75, 2017 Draft), Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers, No. 35, 2017 Draft); defensemen Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton Oilers, No. 84, 2017 Draft), Sean Durzi (Toronto Maple Leafs, No. 52, 2018 Draft; traded to Los Angeles Kings, Jan. 28, 2019), Markus Phillips (Kings, No. 118, 2017 Draft), Fedor Gordeev (Maple Leafs, No. 141, 2017 Draft).

Top 2019 draft-eligible prospects: Forwards Keegan Stevenson (No. 95, North American skaters), Pavel Gogolev (No. 140, North American skaters); goalie Nicolas Daws (No. 16, North American goaltenders).



Coach: Mario Pouliot

Memorial Cup championships: None since moving to Rouyn-Noranda in 1996. Rouyn-Noranda started out as the Montreal Junior Canadiens, which won three Memorial Cup titles (1950, 1969, 1970).

How they got here: The Huskies went 16-4 in the playoffs and won their second QMJHL championship in four seasons. Rouyn-Noranda defeated Shawinigan in six games in the first round, Victoriaville in four games in the quarterfinals, Rimouski in four games in the semifinals, and Halifax in six games in the league final.

NHL prospects: Forwards Jakub Lauko (Boston Bruins, No. 77, 2018 NHL Draft), Joel Teasdale (Montreal Canadiens; signed Sept. 21, 2018); defenseman Noah Dobson (New York Islanders, No. 12, 2018 Draft); goalie Zachary Emond (San Jose Sharks, No. 176, 2018 Draft).

Top 2019 draft-eligible prospects: Forward Alex Beaucage (No. 64 North American skaters); defenseman Justin Bergeron (No. 153 North American skaters).



Coach: Eric Veilleux

Memorial Cup championships: One (2013)

How they got here: Halifax went 12-5 in the first three rounds of the QMJHL playoffs to reach the league final but lost 4-0 to Rouyn-Noranda in Game 6 on May 11. They automatically qualified for the Memorial Cup as the tournament host.

NHL prospects: Forwards Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Anaheim Ducks, No. 54, 2018 NHL Draft), Arnaud Durandeau (New York Islanders, No. 165, 2017 Draft), Ostap Safin (Edmonton Oilers, No. 115, 2017 Draft), Antoine Morand (Ducks, No. 60, 2017 Draft); defensemen Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings, No. 36, 2018 Draft), Jake Ryczek (Chicago Blackhawks, No. 203, 2016 Draft), Jocktan Chainey (New Jersey Devils, No. 191, 2017 Draft); goalie Alexis Gravel (Blackhawks, No. 162, 2018 Draft).

Top 2019 draft-eligible prospects: Forwards Raphael Lavoie (No. 20 North American skaters), Xavier Parent (No. 209, North American skaters)


2019 Memorial Cup schedule

May 17: Prince Albert vs. Halifax (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS)

May 18: Rouyn-Noranda vs. Guelph (3:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NHLN tape delay 1 a.m. ET)

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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