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Sens prospects nearing Memorial Cup showdown

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
A pair of Ottawa Senators prospects still have eyes for the Memorial Cup.

As things now stand, defenceman Jared Cowen and centre Wacey Hamilton might be headed for a showdown to see who represents the Western Hockey League in the ultimate event for major junior hockey teams.

Hamilton's Medicine Hat Tigers advanced to the WHL's Eastern Conference final on Saturday night, rallying from a 4-1 deficit to stun the Red Deer Rebels 5-4 in overtime, taking their best-of-seven series in five games. The Rebels lineup features centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the current favourite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft set for June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn.

During the series, Hamilton — an overager recently signed as a free agent by the Senators — produced four points. The Tigers captain has totalled three goals and seven assists during the first two rounds of the WHL playoffs.

The Tigers next face the Kootenay Ice, which shocked the Saskatoon Blades with a four-game sweep, in the Eastern Conference final starting Friday in Medicine Hat, Alta.

Meanwhile, Cowen's Spokane Chiefs moved a step closer to the Western Conference final by edging the Tri-City Americans 3-2 on Sunday night in Kennewick, Wash. The Chiefs lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can wrap it up on home ice Tuesday night.

Cowen netted the opening goal for Spokane — his first of the playoffs — in Sunday's win and has eight points in the series, including four assists during a 6-3 Chiefs win in Game 2. Overall, the Senators top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (ninth overall) now has 10 points during the post-season.

The Memorial Cup, which features the champions of the WHL, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is set for May 20-29 at the Hershey Centre in Misssauga, Ont. The Mississauga St. Mike's Majors, the junior team owned by Senators proprietor Eugene Melnyk, are the hosts for the tournament.

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