It’s finally here. The ultimate championship in Canadian Junior hockey. The 2018 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The 100th iteration of the competition.
After a 68 game regular season (72 if you’re in the WHL) and three gruelling playoff runs, the Canadian Hockey League’s three champions have been crowned.
The Hamilton Bulldogs thwarted the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in six games in the OHL. In the WHL, the Swift Current Broncos only needed six games themselves to move past the Everett Silvertips. The theme of sixes carried over to the QMJHL, where the Acadie-Bathurst Titan pushed past the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
All while the Regina Pats, the host of this year’s tournament, sat and waited. They were ousted in Round 1 by Swift Current in seven games.
Now just eight, potentially nine, games remain in the 2017/18 CHL season. Will the three-year run of the OHL continue? Or will the QMJHL or WHL reclaim a trophy 100 years in the making?
Here’s a little more information on teams taking part.
What you need to know about the 2018 MasterCard Memorial Cup
Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Regular Season Record: 43-18-4-3, 83 points, first in Eastern Confernece
Leading Scorer: Brandon Saigeon – G: 35, A: 35, PTS: 70*
*Robert Thomas finished the regular season with 75 points split between London (46 points in 27 games) and Hamilton (29 points in 22 games).
Playoff Record: 16-5
Leading Scorer: Robert Thomas – G: 12, A: 20, PTS: 32; Named playoff MVP (‘99’ Award)
Between the Pipes: Kaden Fulcher – 32-17-4-2, 2.86 GAA, 0.899 SV%
First Time NHL Draft Eligibles: Nick Donofrio, G (GP: 17, 11-1-0-1, GAA: 3.14, SV%: 0.884)
NHL Prospects: Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues (1st round, 2017), Will Bitten, Montreal Canadiens (3rd round, 2016), Matthew Strome, Philadelphia Flyers (4th round, 2017), Riley Stillman, Florida Panthers (4th round, 2016), MacKenzie Entwistle, Arizona Coyotes (3rd round, 2017) Nicholas Caamano, Dallas Stars (5th round, 2016), Marian Studenic, New Jersey Devils (5th round, 2017), Nicolas Mattinen, Toronto Maple Leafs (6th round, 2016), Kaden Fulcher, Detroit Red Wings (FA)
Memorial Cup Schedule: Friday @ Regina, Monday vs Swift Current, Tuesday vs Acadie-Bathurst
Previous Memorial Cup Experience: None. (Belleville: Lost in 2008 semi-final, lost in 1999 semi-final)
One Thing to Know: Whether it’s Robert Thomas or Brandon Saigeon’s regular season numbers you’re looking at, neither would top any of the other three in scoring. The Broncos were led by three 100-points scorers (Glenn Gawdin, Aleksi Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen), both Cameron Hebig and Sam Steel cleared the 80-point mark for Regina, and the Titan’s Antoine Morand beat out Thomas by one point. The Bulldogs are second in goals-against among the final four (207), trailing only Acadie-Bathurst who allowed 183 against.
— Troy Izlakar 🇨🇦 (@izzies44) May 15, 2018
Regina Pats (WHL – Host)
Regular Season Record: 40-25-6-1, 87 points, third in Eastern Conference
Leading Scorer: Sam Steel – G: 33, A: 50, PTS: 83**
** Cameron Hebig finished the regular season with 90 points split between Saskatoon (58 points in 40 games) and Regina (32 points in 26 games).
Playoff Record: 3-4
Leading Scorer: Sam Steel – G: 1, A: 10, PTS: 11
Between the Pipes: Ryan Kubic – 5-4-2-0, 3.06 GAA, 0.914 SV% (post-trade from Saskatoon)
First Time NHL Draft Eligibles: Max Paddock, G (GP: 33, 19-7-1-1, GAA: 2.90, SV%: 0.904)
NHL Prospects: Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks (1st round, 2016), Jake Leschyshyn, Vegas Golden Knights (2nd round, 2017), Libor Hajek, Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd round, 2016 – Traded to New York Rangers), Cale Fleury, Montreal Canadiens (Round 3, 2017), Josh Mahura, Anaheim Ducks (3rd round, 2016), Nick Henry, Colorado Avalanche (4th round, 2017) Jesse Gabriel, Boston Bruins (4th round, 2015), Cameron Hebig, Edmonton Oilers (FA)
Memorial Cup Schedule: Friday vs Hamilton, Sunday @ Acadie-Bathurst, Wednesday @ Swift Current
Previous Memorial Cup Experience (WHL only): Failed to make Final in 1980 (1-3 round robin record), won 1974 Memorial Cup.
One Thing to Know: Like last year’s host Windsor Spitfires, the Regina Pats have been off for a long time. The Pats haven’t played since April 2, when they lost Game 7 to Swift Current. When the puck drops Friday on the 2018 Memorial Cup, it will have been 46 days since they last played.
— 620 CKRM (@620ckrm) May 10, 2018
Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Regular Season Record: 48-17-5-2, 103 points, second in Eastern Conference
Leading Scorer: Glenn Gawdin – G: 56, A: 69, PTS: 125
Playoff Record: 16-10
|Leading Scorer: Glenn Gawdin – G: 14, A: 18, PTS: 32; Named playoff MVP
Between the Pipes: Stuart Skinner – 16-6-1-1, 2.68 GAA, 0.914 SV% (post-trade from Lethbridge)
First Time NHL Draft Eligibles: Joel Hofer, G (GP: 19, 8-3-1-1, GAA: 2.61, SV%: 0.914)
NHL Prospects: Aleksi Heponiemi, Florida Panthers (2nd round, 2017), Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (3rd round, 2017), Josh Anderson, Colorado Avalanche (3rd round, 2016), Tyler Steenbergen, Arizona Coyotes (5th round, 2017), Beck Malenstyn, Washington Capitals (5th round, 2016), Glenn Gawdin, Calgary Flames (FA), Colby Sissons, New Jersey Devils (FA)
Memorial Cup Schedule: Saturday @ Acadie-Bathurst, Monday @ Hamilton, Wednesday vs Regina
Previous Memorial Cup Experience: Lost in 1993 tie-breaking game, lost in 1989 final.
One Thing to Know: The Broncos had the hardest path of the four teams to the MasterCard Memorial Cup. They downed the Pats, Moose Jaw Warriors, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Everett Silvertips to get to the Final Four. That’s a combined 367 points. The Bulldogs’ opponents combined for 346 points, while the Titan’s opponents combined for 337 points.
Great storyline for this year's Memorial Cup. A team with unrivaled history (Regina Pats), one with none (Hamilton Bulldogs) and the two smallest markets in the Swift Current Broncos (16,000) and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (12,000).
— Patrick King (@PatrickNKing) May 14, 2018
Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Regular Season Record: 50-11-4-3, 107 points, first overall in QMJHL
Leading Scorer: Antoine Morand – G: 26, A: 50, PTS: 76
Playoff Record: 16-4
Leading Scorer: Jeffrey Truchon-Viel – G: 14, A: 9, PTS: 23; Named playoff MVP (Guy Lafleur trophy)
Between the Pipes: Evan Fitzpatrick: 17-3-1-0, 2.24 GAA, 0.915 SV% (post-trade from Sherbrooke)
First Time NHL Draft Eligibles: Noah Dobson, D (GP: 67, G: 17, A: 52, PTS: 69), Justin Ducharme, LW (GP: 53, G: 11, A: 12, PTS: 23), Michal Ivan, D (GP: 48, G: 3, A: 14, PTS: 17)
NHL Prospects: German Rubtsov, Philadelphia Flyers (1st round, 2016), Antoine Morand, Anaheim Ducks (2nd round, 2017), Evan Fitzpatrick, St. Louis Blues (2nd round, 2016)
Memorial Cup Schedule: Saturday vs Swift Current, Sunday vs Regina, Tuesday @ Hamilton
Previous Memorial Cup Experience: Finished last in 1999 round robin.
One Thing to Know: The Titan played the fewest games to get to the Memorial Cup at 20. Despite playing ten fewer games than the Broncos, they only scored four fewer goals (77-73). The Titan averaged 3.65 goals per game, which was better than Swift Current (2.96) and Regina (2.86), but not Hamilton (4.3). They had the best goals-against per game though, as their 2.2 was better than the Bulldogs (2.80), Broncos (2.54) and Pats (3.00).
Congratulations to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on their first Presidents Cup title since 1999. Quite the turnaround for a franchise (and town) that's been through some rough times…. Going all in has paid off.
— Patrick McNeil (@CBSE_pbp) May 13, 2018