This year the event is taking place in London, Ontario. The hosting team the Knights will battle for the national title for the 3rd straight tournament in a row. They were in Shawinigan in 2012 and Saskatoon last year. Both times they did not win. Last month they had the misfortune of meeting the Guelph Storm in the OHL playoffs and played their last game on Friday April 11. They will have been off 35 days when they will meet the QMJHL champions on opening night. The Knights are 6th in the final Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Top Ten ranking.
That’s one team in. The three other teams are currently playing in their respective league Finals series so we have 6 teams left who are battling to take the road to London. Four of these teams are in the final CHL Top Ten ranking as well. The teams who will win the championship in the OHL, WHL and QMJHL get the ticket to dispute the national title. The hosting team is always in.
In the OHL the FInals series have started and it’s a 1-1- tie between the Guelph Storm (ranked #2 nationwide) and the surprising North Bay Batalion. For knowing North Bay myself the fans there must be happy to have top level junior hockey back.
In the WHL the battle between the Portland Winterhawks (ranked #3 – CHL) and the Edmonton Oil Kings (again yes – ranked #8 – CHL) started last night and Portland won 5-2 on home ice. It might Portland’s turn this year to win the Memorial Cup according to experts so we will keep an eye on this series.
In the QMJHL I have watched both games that took place so far in Baie-Comeau (ranked #5) and the Val D’or Foreurs tied up the series 1-1 yesterday with a win in OT. Val D’Or has defeated the Halifax Mooseheads, the 2013 Memorial Cup Champions, in the semifinals series in 7 games.
Some Games 7 of current the three finals series are scheduled as late as May 13 and the tournament opens Friday evening on the 16th. I intend to write more about the event, teams and players to watch once we will know the Champions in each league. This was just a short briefing for now.