Sunday, May 26, 2013

1. The QMJHL has never won three straight Memorial Cup championships. The Halifax Mooseheads will try to complete the trifecta today against the Portland Winterhawks in the championship final in Saskatoon. . . . The Saint John Sea Dogs won it two years ago and the host Shawinigan Cataractes won it last year. . . . The WHL hasn’t won the Memorial Cup since 2008 when the Spokane Chiefs did it. . . . The last time one league won three in a row was 1987-89 when the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers won it twice and the Swift Current Broncos won it in 1989, right in Saskatoon.
2. The Winterhawks first won the Memorial Cup in 1983. They won it again in 1998. This is 2013. If you do the math, those are 15-year increments. Omen? Coincidence?
3. The Mooseheads beat the Winterhawks 7-4 on the second game of this tournament. You may recall that Halifax F Nathan MacKinnon scored three goals in that one as Portland G Mac Carruth had a less than average night. . . . Carruth has gotten a whole lot better since that game. The Mooseheads haven’t played since beating the London Knights 9-2 on Tuesday. Yes, that’s a lot of time off.
4. A ticket price-related note from a Winterhawks fan: “I took an informal survey on the ’Hawks fan forum . . . and every respondent (including myself) wrote back and said that if they turned the $32 club level seat (WHL playoffs) into a $100-plus Memorial Cup ticket that we would all bypass the event and just watch it on TV.”
5. Assuming that both goaltenders, Carruth and Zach Fucale of Halifax, play well, I would suggest that the outcome of this game will rest with Portland’s big four on defence. Seth Jones, Derrick Pouliot, Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon are capable, as a group, of controlling a game. If that happens in this one, Portland wins. But if Halifax forwards Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and Martin Frk get time with the puck in the offensive zone, the Mooseheads will win.
6. Some observers may look at this game as MacKinnon versus Jones. If you absolutely have to go in that direction, rather than Mooseheads versus Winterhawks, I’d suggest it’s more MacKinnon versus Ty Rattie. . . . MacKinnon is cooler than a Saskatchewan winter when the puck is on his stick; Rattie wants it on his stick when the temperature is the hottest.
7. The Mooseheads and Winterhawks have been the two top-ranked teams in the CHL throughout the season, so it’s only fitting that they meet today with all the marbles on the table. . . . And, if you were wondering, the Mooseheads will be the home team, so get the benefit of last change.
8. F Ben Fanelli of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers was honoured Saturday as the CHL’s humanitarian of the year. Fanelli‘s hockey career almost ended after he suffered a serious head injury that cost him most of the 2009-10 season. If you aren’t aware of his story, it’s worth at trip to Google. . . . Fanelli, 20, played out his eligibility this season and is working towards a psychology degree at Wilfrid Laurier University.
9. Considering what the Winterhawks have gone through this season, wouldn’t you like to know just how many WHL front-office types are pulling for them to win today? I’m thinking the over-under might be about two.
10. Memorial Cup attendance . . . it’s the story that just won’t go away. Kevin Mitchell, the sports editor of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, has been tackling the issue all week and his latest missive is right here. It includes some rather pointed comments from former Blades D Rhett Warrener. . . . Oh, and ticket prices in the upper deck apparently have slid to $27 for the final.
ECHLThe Reading Royals won the ECHL title on Saturday night, beating the host Stockton Thunder, 6-0, and winning the series, 4-1. . . . This is Reading’s first championship; the Royals completed their 12th ECHL season. . . . Reading D Patrick Wellar (Portland, Calgary, 2000-04) became the second player in ECHL history to win the Kelly Cup three times. The other is F Scott Burt (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98).
If you missed it, Hockey Canada, which is holding its annual general meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I., voted Saturday to dump body checking from peewee hockey and below.
The reaction, at least on Twitter, was to be expected, perhaps best summed up by this from Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney): “I've never been more upset that my son won't be constantly hit in the head than I am right now. #BringBackBodychecking”
I would like to thank TSN’s Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) and Willy Palov (@CH_WillyPalov) of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald for providing me with so much Saturday morning entertainment. Your tweets and retweets were things of beauty.
A sample . . .
McKenzie: “I laugh at meatheads who say, If kids don't like hitting, play another sport. That's the point: they and their parents are goin to do that.”
Palov: “Concussions and hockey politics/toxic adults are why my kids play basketball.”
Palov again, this time in response to a tweet sent his way: “Because that's what matters? @AdamMX182: your kids will probably go nowhere sports career wise playing basketball in Canada”
And one more from Palov, in response to the intelligentsia: “I think it makes perfect sense." @MC_MooseCountry: “so your kids play basketball but you're a hockey reporter?? doesn't make sense”

From Steve Webb (@SteveWebb20): “@HockeyCanada now that the game will be safer for kids on the ice.Can something be done about the crazy parents #unrealistic expectations”

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