Saturday, May 26, 2012
For those of you unfamiliar, the Memorial Cup is the trophy awarded to the national junior champions of the Canadian Hockey League, which consists of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL).
The trophy dates back to 1919 and memorializes all the young Canadian hockey players who died in World War I. The competition for the cup has grown and evolved over time, beginning as a two team affair, decided in a two-game, total goals series between the champions from the east versus the champions of the west. It then changed to a best-of-three, then best-of-five and then a best-of-seven series.
In 1972 it grew to include three teams with an ever evolving format until 1983, when a fourth team was added to the mix., that being the team hosting the tournament.
In light of the 59 teams spread out over three leagues all vying for the championship, the Memorial Cup in considered one of the hardest trophies to win in sports.
This year's format called for the four teams to begin play on Friday, May 18th when the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings played against the host team, the Shawinigan Cataractes (which translates to "Waterfalls" in English). In a wild 5 goal third period, Edmonton outscored Shawinigan to win the game 4-3.
Today's featured jersey is Shawinigan's 2012 Memorial Cup special commemorative jerseys worn for the opening game of the tournament which honor the 62nd Field Artillery Regiment of the Canadian Army which is located in Shawinigan.
Those jerseys are now up for auction with the proceeds going to benefit veterans and their families.
Shawinigan's commemorative jersey
The competition continued on Saturday with the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs losing to the London Knights 5-3 in the opening game for both clubs. Shawinigan rebounded on Sunday to take and easy 6-2 win over the Knights.
At this point Edmonton's tournament began to go haywire, losing to Saint John 5-2 on Monday and dropping Tuesday's game to London 4-1, who improved to 2-1.
Saint John also went to 2-1 with their victory Wednesday 4-1 over QMJHL rivals Shawinigan, a nasty affair full of questionable hits and high sticks, which degenerated into fights and finished the coaches shouting at each other, which all resulted in both teams being fined.
That game closed out the Round Robin portion of the schedule with London finishing on top to earn a direct berth in the championship final. Placing second was Saint John, also at 2-1. They would face the winner of the tiebreaker game on Thursday, a matchup between Shawinigan and Edmonton, which went to the Cataractes in a 6-1 romp to the delight of the home fans, setting up a much anticipated return bout with Saint John which took place on Friday night.
**********SPOILER ALERT FOR AMERICANS**********
THIS GAME HAS NOT YET AIRED IN THE UNITED STATES
IT WILL AIR TODAY AT 3 PM EST ON THE NHL NETWORK
The two QMJHL rivals took to the ice for the second time in ss days and the game was tied at 2-2 after one period before Shawinigan put 20 shots on goal to Saint John's 8 in the second period, coming away with a 4-3 edge.
Saint John tied the game midway through the third period only to have the Cataractes regain the lead four minutes later with a goal that just made it over the line on a shot from the point. Michael Chaput put the game out of reach with an empty net goal at 19:08, his second goal of the game, and Shawinigan added another goal with just 10 seconds left for the deceptive final margin in what was otherwise a close, hard fought game which sent the host team into the final, much to the delight of their thrilled supporters.
The championship final is Sunday with live coverage in Canada at 7 PM eastern on Sportsnet and in the United States on Sunday night at 7 PM eastern on the NHL Network with a repeat on Monday afternoon.