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Cowen, Chiefs driving toward Memorial Cup berth

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators defence prospect Jared Cowen is hoping to return to the Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Jared Cowen won't soon forget the joy of hoisting the Memorial Cup.

The Ottawa Senators defence prospect enjoyed his biggest hockey moment to date three years ago in Kitchener, Ont., when his Spokane Chiefs vanquished the host Rangers to claim the Memorial Cup — the holy grail of Canadian major junior hockey.

Now he'd like to do it all over again before embarking on his professional career in the Senators organization. The Chiefs are right in the thick of contention in the Western Hockey League, all square with the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Conference final. The teams split a pair of games over the weekend in Portland, Ore., with the Chiefs taking the series opener 2-1 at the Rose Garden before Portland rebounded on Sunday by the same score.

The Winterhawks (50-19-0-3), whose roster includes forwards Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter — both top five picks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — finished one point ahead of Spokane (48-14-4-2) during the regular season, so the tightness of the series is hardly surprising. Game 3 is set for Wednesday night at Spokane Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

For Cowen, the Chiefs' captain, a return to the Memorial Cup would provide a chance to share the experience he enjoyed as a 17-year-old in 2008.

"I've already done it once," Cowen, the Senators' top pick (ninth overall) in the 2009 NHL draft, said in a recent interview. "It would be even more special for the guys who have come to the organization and know that we've won it before. They always want to prove to everyone else that we can repeat and be as good as we were (back then).

"That tournament is very prestigious and lots of fun. It can move your career forward. Everyone I played with on that team (in 1998) when we won is still playing hockey somewhere else, so it's a great thing."

The 6-5, 228-pound Cowen is one of two Senators prospects with hopes of playing in the Memorial Cup, set for May 20-29 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Centre Wacey Hamilton, a recent free-agent signing by the Senators, is captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who find themselves down 2-0 to the Kootenay Ice after dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference final on home ice. Game 3 goes tonight in Cranbrook, B.C.

Since falling behind 2-1 in their opening-round series against the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Ice have reeled off nine straight playoff wins, including a stunning sweep of the Saskatoon Blades. Kootenay edged Medicine Hat 6-5 in the conference final opener before posting a 3-0 win in Game 2.

Rundblad, Silfverberg join Swedish roster for worlds

Sweden's roster for the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship will include a pair of Senators prospects.

Defenceman David Rundblad, a first-round pick (17th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft who was acquired by the Senators a year ago for their 2010 first-round, is set to make his worlds debut in the tournament, which begins Friday in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia. Also suiting up for the Tre Kronor is forward Jakob Silfverberg, a second-round pick (46th overall) by Ottawa in the 2009 draft.

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