Saturday, May 30, 2015

Generals or Rockets? Who wins? . . . No news on Matthews . . . Dillon jumps to Oil Kings

F Hampus Gustafsson (Regina, Brandon, 2009-11) signed a one-year contract with Storhamar Hamar (Norway, GET-Ligaen). This season, he was pointless in three games with Pantern Malmö (Sweden, Division 1) and had seven goals and 10 assists in 19 games with Grenoble (France, Ligue Magnus).
The Oshawa Generals haven’t won the Memorial Cup since 1990. The Kelowna Rockets have been in the tournament five times since 2002, but won it just once, as the host team in 2004. . . . One of them will be crowned major junior hockey’s champion today in what will be the historic final game to be played in the Pepsi Colisee. . . . The way Bill Beacon of The Canadian Press sees it, the Generals go into the game as the slight favourites. His story is right here.

At first glance, this game would seem to match Kelowna’s offence against the defence of the Generals,
who are easily the bigger of the two teams. However, the Generals averaged 38.67 shots on goal in their three games, while the Rockets were at 32.5 in four games. . . . Of course, the Generals went 3-0, with three one-goal victories, to earn a bye to the final. The Rockets are 2-2, including a 9-3 thrashing of the host Quebec Remparts in Friday’s semifinal game. . . . The Rockets scored 20 goals in four games; the Generals counted 11 in three outings. . . . From where I sit, the outcome of this game, from a Kelowna perspective, rests on the Rockets’ ability to play a run-and-gun with lots of pressure on the puck. If they are able to mount that kind of game, they will win, but they might need to score five goals to do it. . . . If Kelowna ends up trying to play a defence-first game, that will be to Oshawa’s benefit and the Generals could win a low-scoring affair. . . . The big question, however, is this: Will the fact that Rockets head coach Dan Lambert is bilingual and a former player with the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques be enough to put the crowd’s support behind his club?
Here is the Memorial Cup schedule (all games on Sportsnet; all times Eastern):
Friday, May 22: Kelowna 3 vs. Quebec 4 (9,497)
Saturday, May 23: Rimouski 3 vs. Oshawa 4 (8,409)
Sunday, May 24: Quebec 4 vs. Oshawa 5 (OT) (10,970)
Monday, May 25: Rimouski 3 vs. Kelowna 7 (6,981)
Tuesday, May 26: Oshawa 2 vs. Kelowna 1 (7,002)
Wednesday, May 27: Quebec 0 vs. Rimouski 4 (10,277)
Thursday, May 28 (tiebreaker): Quebec 5 vs. Rimouski 2 (6,533)
Friday, May 29 (semifinal): Kelowna 9 vs. Quebec 3 (9,870)
Sunday (championship): Oshawa vs. Kelowna, 7 p.m.

The camp of USNTDP star F Auston Matthews has yet to reveal where he will play next season. Perhaps Matthews, who already is being projected as the No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2016 draft, hasn’t yet decided. Or perhaps he and his advisors (wink! wink!) simply are enjoying the speculation. . . . His options were believed to be the NCAA — he has numerous schools interested and at one point was said to have whittled his list to five — or the WHL, where the Everett Silvertips hold his rights. . . . But then came word that Matthews was listening most intently to an offer from Switzerland, perhaps from the Zurich-based ZSC Lions, who are coached by Marc Crawford. . . . And then, just to thicken the stew, Sportsnet’s Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) tweeted earlier in the week: “Almost 100% Auston Matthews is headed to Europe, not WHL or NCAA. News is teams from Sweden, Finland may have joined Zurich in the bidding.” . . . At this point, however, it would seem that if it is to be a team in Finland or Sweden, there hasn’t been much light shed on it over there. I heard from a source who is most familiar with hockey in the Scandinavian countries. “I have looked into all the sites and papers I know of in Sweden and Finland and if there is any mention of it, it is quoting Cox's tweets,” the source told Taking Note. “However, (the Finnish newspaper) Ilta-Sanomat reports that Zurich's offer to Matthews is 450,000 Euros, about US$500,000, for next season.” . . . Aside from the money, the prime advantage to Matthews of playing in Europe is that the NHL team that drafts him would, according to the NHL-NHLPA agreement, be able to send him to its AHL affiliate for the 2016-17 season should it choose to do so. . . . While all of this is going on, a voice deep inside keeps asking me if Avenir Sports and Entertainment might yet surface in all of this. ASE has majority ownership in the Kloten Flyers, who play in Switzerland’s National League A, as do the ZSC Lions. Bill Gallacher, who owns ASE, also owns the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed their first two selections from the 2015 WHL bantam draft. . . . D Jeff Woo was the fourth overall selection and they took Luka Burzan two picks later. . . . Woo played for the bantam AAA Winnipeg Warriors, while Burzan was with the North Shore Winter Club. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has more right here.
G Alec Dillon, who had committed to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and play hockey there, has changed his mind and will sign with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 19-year-old is expected to be introduced at a Monday news conference. . . . Dillon, from Nanaimo, was a second-team all-star this season with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. The previous season, he was with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. . . . The 6-foot-5, 175-pounder was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . At the moment, Dillon would seem to slot in alongside sophomore Patrick Dea, an 18-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., on Edmonton’s depth chart. Playing behind Tristan Jarry, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Dea got into 21 games this season, going 11-5-1, 2.57, .904. . . . Jarry, 20, is expected to play in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization this season. The Penguins selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2013 draft. . . . Dillon, who is good friends with Oil Kings D Dysin Mayo, was a fifth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2011 bantam draft. On Nov. 28, 2013, they dealt his rights and what will be a fourth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft to Edmonton for D Stephen Shmoorkoff.
F Jordan Kawaguchi, a fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2012 bantam draft, has said he will attend Providence College. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Kawaguchi, from Abbotsford, B.C., played this season with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, putting up 56 points, including 28 goals, in 53 games.

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