For the third time in the last four years, the Buffalo Sabres will have one of their top defensive prospects taking part in the Memorial Cup, the week-long round-robin tournament that will crown the champion of Canadian junior hockey. Mark Pysyk and his Edmonton Oil Kings will open up the 94th edition of the Memorial Cup on Friday night when they play the host Shawinigan Cataractes at 7 p.m. ET (NHL Network).
Buffalo’s first-round selection in the 2010 Entry Draft, Pysyk led the Oil Kings to a 4-3 series win over the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League championship series last week. Pysyk, 20, had 11 points (3+8) in 20 games for the Oil Kings during the WHL Playoffs, including the game winner in Edmonton’s Game Five win over Portland.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Pysyk joins defensemen Tyler Myers (2009) and Brayden McNabb (2011) as Sabres prospects that have taken part in the prestigious tournament in recent years. Myers was named to the 2009 Memorial Cup All-Star Team, just months before making his debut with the Sabres as a much-heralded 19-year-old rookie.
This year’s Memorial Cup should prove to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, with four of the top five ranked teams in the Canadian Hockey League taking part. Joining Edmonton and Shawinigan are the London Knights (OHL) and Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL). According to Aaron Bell of CHL.ca, this is the first time since 1979 that the regular season champion from each of the three leagues went on to win their respective league playoff titles.
Below is a complete tournament schedule. The NHL Network will have live coverage of the games on May 18-20; all games will be shown live in Canada on Sportsnet.
2012 Memorial Cup schedule (all games at 7 p.m. ET)
* Friday, May 18: Edmonton vs. Shawinigan
* Saturday, May 19:Saint John vs. London
* Sunday, May 20: Shawinigan vs. London
* Monday, May 21: Saint John vs. Edmonton
* Tuesday, May 22: London vs. Edmonton
* Wednesday, May 23:Shawinigan vs. Saint John
* Thursday, May 24:Tie-breaker (if necessary)
* Friday, May 25:Semifinal game
* Sunday, May 27: Championship game