Here we are CHL followers! Effectively 94 games later and it has been decided! The Saint John Sea Dogs and the Erie Otters played a tough, close game until the Sea Dogs fell to a 4 goal 3rd period by the Erie Otters. The period started at 2-2, but the game ended 6-3 for Erie.
That just leaves us with 2 teams left. It comes as no surprise that Erie ended up defeated Saint John after the 12-5 thumping they handed out to them on Monday night. The surprise of the final goes to Windsor. Not because they aren’t hard working players or a team that isn’t deserving of their placement, but that as the host they managed to get to the Memorial Cup level by invitation and not by winning. That is in no way a slight to the Spitfires, but a state of mind most fans have going into the Memorial Cup. As you may or may not know (since I forgot to cover this in my last post), the Memorial Cup Round Robin teams are selected by taking the winners of each league that comprises the CHL. The winner of the QMJHL was Saint John, the winner of the OHL was Erie, and the winner of the WHL which was the Seattle Thunderbirds. The fourth and final team is always the team that is hosting the event itself (assuming they don’t win their league then the fourth slot goes to the runner-up of the league). This year it’s the Windsor Spitfires. To clarify my comments about Windsor: they are not a losing team, just not the winners of the OHL league.
The reason why a fan would worry that they would not perform as well as the other teams at the tournament is that it’s easy to assume they aren’t a winning team. The Spitfires lost in the first round of the OHL playoffs to the London Knights 4-3. Which, if I say so myself, is nothing to be ashamed of. If the Otters weren’t as strong and as focused as they were they could have EASILY lost to the Knights this year themselves. The Knights had a strong team and losing to them is in no way a reflection of your own team. Having said that, fans, of course, may not know this and just see a team that didn’t make it to the end, who shouldn’t be able to stand up on their own against the winning teams. The Spitfires also had the fact that they didn’t play a competitive game for 47 days. Imagine viewers, event goers, and event organizer’s surprise when the Spitfires shot out a 3-2 win over the team that the sports analyzers had said this was their cup to lose. The surprise continued as they destroyed the Thunderbirds 7-1 and finally edging out Erie 4-2 to get to the final.
All the games, all the adversity to get this far, and all the doubts are out of the way now. The Erie Otters will play the Windsor Spitfires (who will have home ice advantage) this Sunday, May 28th at 8 pm EDT. The winner, of course, will be crowned the 99th MasterCard Memorial Cup champions. This will conclude the CHL hockey year.
In knowing that the year is coming to an end, the CHL went ahead and awarded their best players today:
2016-17 CHL Award Winners:
- Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award: Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings
- Chrysler Top Scorer Award: Sam Steel, Regina Pats
- BRP Sportsman of the Year Award: Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack
- Mastercard Humanitarian of the Year Award: Tyler Wong, Lethbridge Hurricanes
- CIBC Scholastic Player of the Year Award: Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa 67’s
- Sofina Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award: Ryan McGill, Owen Sound Attack
- CCM Rookie of the Year Award: Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads
- Vaughn Goaltender of the Year Award: Michael McNiven, Owen Sound Attack
- Superstore Defenceman of the Year Award: Thomas Chabot, Saint John Sea Dogs
- Sportsnet Player of the Year Award: Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters
I’ll include a link to the article with a small write up of each of those players here: http://chl.ca/article/chl-announces-2016-17-award-winners
I’m personally excited about this last game, both teams are tough and fast, and both teams have shown they are here to prove something. I hope you’re all as excited as I am! See you tonight!