The 2019 Memorial Cup has come to an end, marking the end of the 2018-2019 Canadian Hockey League season and meaning a new team has become number one. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies claimed the title of the best junior hockey team in the CHL after beating the Halifax Mooseheads in the final game.
What is the Canadian Hockey League?
The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is the organization that is home to three major junior hockey leagues across Canada. The three leagues; the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL); are home to a total of 60 teams in Canada and the United States. Young hockey players leave home to pursue the CHL. They are taken in by families in their team’s community. Many of the players go onto play professional hockey across the globe as well as on university teams in Canada.
What is the Memorial Cup?
The Memorial Cup is the championship trophy for the Canadian Hockey League. The winner from each individual league’s playoffs plus a host city play in a round robin style tournament to determine the winner. The trophy is named in honour of the fallen soldiers from World War I.
The 2019 Memorial Cup Tournament
This years tournament was hosted in Halifax, Nova Scotia which gave the Halifax Mooseheads a ticket to the tournament. The Mooseheads had a great season, winning 49 0f their 68 games which had them finish first in their conference and third overall in the QMJHL. They made it all the way to the QMJHL final where they were stopped by the first place regular season team, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 6 games. The Halifax Mooseheads won the Memorial Cup in 2013.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies represented the Quebec Major Junior League at the Memorial Cup. They were a favourite to advance to the tournament and were successful after beating out Shawinigan, Victoriaville, Rimouski and finally Halifax. Center Peter Abbandonto led the QMJHL in scoring with 111 points in 68 games.
The Prince Albert Raiders were a powerhouse all season long losing only 10 of 68 games in regulation time (14 losses total). They finished first in Western Hockey League by 11 points and were a standout. The Raiders pushed through the playoffs and headed to Halifax as the WHL representative. Goaltender Ian Scott, Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, was named CHL Goaltender of the year. Scott had a .932 sv% and 1.826 GAA in 49 games this season.
The Guelph Storm caught fire in playoffs and upset some of the leagues best on route to Halifax. With the likes of Nate Schnarr and Nick Suzuki, Guelph pushed through Ottawa, the first place team and championship favourite. Not many people expected the Storm to have the success that they did. When it came down to it, the Storm proved everyone wrong.
After round robin play, Prince Albert was eliminated from contention and Halifax had a bye to the final game. This left the Guelph Storm and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to battle it out for the second spot in the final. The Huskies topped the stop 6-4 and the stage was now set for the final.
In the rematch of the QMJHL final, the Halifax Mooseheads would look for revenge against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The hometown Mooseheads had the crowd behind them in an exciting game. They got out to a 2-0 lead just over 5 minutes into the second period which included a breakaway goal from Raphael Lavoie who is eligible for the NHL Draft next month. The Huskies pushed hard and scored four unanswered goals to go up 4-2 and win the Memorial Cup. The team finally got their Memorial Cup after the heartbreaking overtime finals loss to the London Knights in 2016.
The game was a fantastic end to the 2018-2019 season for the league. The next step for some of these players will be the NHL Draft on June 21-22 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The CHL will return in September for the 2019-2020 season and the quest for the Memorial Cup will reset.
Feature Image: Vincent Ethier/CHL Images