2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup – Preliminary Round
Kootenay Ice vs Saint John Sea Dogs
Tonight, May 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The Kootenay Ice are the upset kings of the Canadian Hockey League.
En route to a Western Hockey League title, the Ice, who weren’t ranked in the final CHL Top 10, defeated the No. 2 team in the country, the Saskatoon Blades, in a four game sweep in the second round. After dispatching the Medicine Hat Tigers in the semifinals, they beat the No. 7 ranked Portland Winterhawks in five games to win the WHL championship.
Tonight, they are faced with the task of going up against the No. 1 ranked team in Canada – the Saint John Sea Dogs. Game time is 8:00 pm at the Hershey Centre (Rogers Sportsnet/RDS; News 88.9 FM).
Kootenay has gotten off to a bad start at the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup. They dropped their first game 5-0 against the Ontario Hockey League champion Owen Sound Attack on Saturday. On Sunday, they fell 2-1 to the host the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
With the Ice being 0-2 at the tournament, a loss tonight means their season is over. A win and they will play in a tie-breaker on Thursday against the loser of Wednesday’s Attack-Majors game.
The Ice will surely be playing desperate hockey this evening against an up-tempo Saint John team that is coming off a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind overtime win against Owen Sound yesterday.
The Sea Dogs played fairly well last night in an extremely entertaining contest. A late goal by Tomas Jurco sent to the match into extra time where Jonathan Huberdeau snipped the disc past Attack netminder Jordan Binnington to give the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champs a 3-2 win and a 2-0 record.
With last night’s victory, the Sea Dogs have guaranteed themselves a spot in Sunday’s championship game. Now the question becomes how will Saint John play in a game that means virtually nothing to them?
Only one team has ever comeback from a 0-2 hole to win the Memorial Cup. That came back in 2009 when the Windsor Spitfires won their first of two straight national championships. In that tournament, the Kelowna Rockets failed to eliminate the Spitfires in the round-robin. Windsor then won the tie-breaker, the semifinal, and eventually dumped the Rockets 4-1 in the final.
Although the chances of that happening again are slim, the Sea Dogs may not want to take that risk.
KOOTENAY ICE (WHL Champion)REGULAR SEASON
Goals For: 272
Goals Against: 218
Power Play: 21.8% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 79.3% (11th)
2010-11 Final CHL Ranking: Not Ranked
Goals For: 74
Goals Against: 44
Power Play: 17.4% (7th)
Penalty Kill: 88.8% (2nd)
HOW THEY GOT HERE
-Defeated Moose Jaw Warriors 4-2 in first round
-Defeated Saskatoon Blades 4-0 in second round
-Defeated Medicine Hat Tigers 4-0 in Eastern Conference Championship Series
-Defeated Portland Winterhawks 4-1 in WHL Championship Series
2011 Playoffs Top Scorers:
LW – Matt Fraser: 19gp-17g-10a-27pts
C – Max Reinhart: 19gp-15g-12a-27pts
C – Cody Eakin: 19gp-11g-16a-27pts
D – Brayden McNabb: 19gp-3g-24a-27pts
Brayden McNabb - BUF - 66th in 2009
Cody Eakin – WSH - 85th in 2009
Max Reinhart – CGY - 64th in 2010
Joey Leach - CGY - 73rd in 2010
Drew Czerwonka – EDM - 166th in 2010
John Neibrandt - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 170
Jagger Dirk - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 188
From the Brandon Wheat Kings website:
19-year-old Nathan Lieuwen took his game to another level during the 2011 WHL playoffs, posting a 16-2-1 record with three shutouts along with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage while starting all 19 post-season contests for Kootenay. A former first-round draft pick of the Ice, Lieuwen has a knack for making big saves at key times in games, and gives his team a chance to win in any situation.ROUGH START
As said above, the Ice are off to a 0-2 start and face elimination this evening. They fell 5-0 to Owen Sound on Saturday and then dropped a 2-1 decision to the Majors on Sunday.
Cody Eakin, Joey Leach, and Drew Czerwonka are the only Kootenay players with points so far in the tournament.
They only had one goal through two games for an average of 0.50 markers per match. In the WHL playoffs they averaged 3.89 goals per game.
The Ice still believe they can win the Memorial Cup even though it will be an uphill climb. From the Daily Townsman:
"(Sunday's 2-1 loss to Mississauga) really stung. We thought we worked pretty hard for the whole game and did a lot of good things, but we still came out on the bottom end there," said Steele Boomer. "It definitely hurt to go the first two games without a win, but we've got another game (against Saint John tonight) and we've got to win that game to have a chance to advance.Steele Boomer is an unreal hockey name.
"We're not out of it: we don't believe that we are, so we're just trying to keep that positive attitude and not get down on ourselves."
Turns out Jacob DeSerres, a former Western Hockey Leaguer, and Kevin King of the Ice were friends growing up in Calgary. From the Townsman:
"We didn't see each other over Christmas. We're pretty good buddies, so we said if it couldn't be in Calgary, we made our date in Mississauga," said King. "We both held up our end of the bargain and made it here."McNABB RETURNS
The Ice will have their captain back this evening. Brayden McNabb was suspended for Kootenay’s game on Sunday after giving an elbow to the head of Attack forward Joey Hishon. He will return tonight and should be a big addition for the Ice.
The defenseman had 22 goals and 50 assists in 59 regular season games. He added three goals and 24 helpers in 19 post-season games.
SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS (QMJHL Champions)REGULAR SEASON
Goals For: 324
Goals Against: 165
Power Play: 25.6% (6th)
Penalty Kill: 83.7% (1st)
2010-11 Final CHL Ranking: 1
Goals For: 84
Goals Against: 39
Power Play: 27.4% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 92.6% (1st)
HOW THEY GOT HERE
-Defeated Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Victoriaville Tigres 4-1 in second round
-Defeated Lewiston Maineiacs 4-0 in Semi-Final series
-Defeated Gatineau Olympiques 4-2 in QMJHL Championship series
2011 Playoffs Top Scorers:
C – Jonathan Huberdeau: 19gp-16g-14a-30pts
LW – Stanislav Galiev: 19gp-10g-17a-27pts
RW – Zack Phillips: 17gp-9g-15a-24pts
RW – Tomas Jurco: 19gp-6g-12a-18pts
Jacob DeSerres – PHI - 84th in 2008
Simon Després – PIT - 30th in 2009
Éric Gélinas – NJ - 54th in 2009
Steven Anthony – VAN - 187th in 2009
Stanislav Galiev – WSH - 86th in 2010
Mathieu Corbeil – CBJ - 102nd in 2010
Stephen MacAulay - STL - 164th in 2010
Jonathan Huberdeau - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 3
Nathan Beaulieu - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 5
Zack Phillips - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 15
Tomas Jurco - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 20
Scott Oke - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 44
Ryan Tesink - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 47
Gabriel Bourret - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 92
Aidan Kelly - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 94
Jason Cameron - 2011 eligible - ranked No. 124
Saint John will rest Jacob DeSerres this evening and give Mathieu Corbeil a shot in net. In the post-season, the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect had a 4-0-0-0 record to go along with a 1.54 goals against average and a 0.936 save percentage.
He has not started a game since Game Four of the semifinals in Lewiston, a game that saw him pulled very early in the contest.
It looks as though the Sea Dogs will be resting some players with tonight being a “nothing” game.
Stephane Leroux of RDS tweets that Danick Gauthier, who went hard into Owen Sound’s bench door last night, will not play this evening. He also tweets that Simon Despres (bronchitis) and Michael Kirkpatrick (shoulder) are questionable.
From Buzzing The Net:
"The flu's going around our team a little bit," Gallant said. "I don't know if you've noticed but [No. 1 defenceman Simon] Despres is coughing his head off on the ice. There's three or four guys with really bad chest colds. It's going to help them a lot. And we had some injuries from the finals against Gatineau so that's going to help."BTN also mentions that the likes of Scott Oke, Aidan Kelly, and Ryan Tesink could get more ice time tonight. Leroux later tweeted that Jason Seed and Devon Oliver-Dares could be inserted into the lineup.
The Dogs are still without Jason Cameron and it doesn’t look like Steven Anthony will be playing either.
OTHER NOTESBURNING QUESTIONS
Patrick King of Rogers Sportsnet takes a look at some of the questions going into today’s game.
Sportsnet has some camera at ice level you can watch. From the Sportsnet website:
Why watch from above when you can be at ground zero with the sportsnet.ca on-ice cam?Check it out HERE.
Watch the entire 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup from a players' perspective as sportsnet.ca presents the on-ice cam for the entire tournament.
For every single game, sportsnet.ca will have a cameraman following the action from ice level, jumping into every scrum and fight to give you a unique view of the action.
THE RINKArena: Hershey Centre
Year Built: 1998
OHL Arena Guide
MEDIA GUIDETV: Rogers Sportsnet, RDS
Radio: News 88.9, Sportsnet Radio Fan 590
Live Blog: Station Nation, Buzzing The Net
NEXT SEA DOGS GAMESaint John will play the winner of Friday’s semifinal matchup on Sunday night at 8:00 pm in the championship game.
Photo Credits: CHL, CHL, Google, Marc Henwood/Station Nation, Twitter