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FEATURES

2014 Memorial Cup Preview

We take a look at the four teams participating in the annual tournament set to get underway tonight in London, Ontario

Friday, 16.05.2014 / 2:00 AM / Features
By Marc Ciampa  - edmontonoilers.com
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2014 Memorial Cup Preview
We take a look at the four teams participating in the annual tournament set to get underway tonight in London, Ontario




HOW THEY GOT TO LONDON

Photo by Marko Ditkun/Edmonton Oil Kings

After losing a handful of players from their 2013 WHL-finalist squad, the Edmonton Oil Kings were not initially expected to contend for a WHL Championship in 2014. However, after a 5-7 start they picked up their game and eventually finished first in the Eastern Conference.

The Oil Kings finished with at least 50 wins for the third consecutive season at 50-19-2-1. They defeated Prince Albert in the first round four games to one, defeated Brandon in round two, four games to one and defeated Medicine Hat in the third round, also four games to one.

In the finals, the Oil Kings lost the first two games to Portland but bounced back to take the next two at home. A Game 5 win in Portland set the stage for Game 6 and a chance to clinch at home but the club let a 5-2 third-period lead slip away and eventually fell 6-5 in overtime. However, the Oil Kings regroup one night later for Game 7 in Portland to win the game and the championship 4-2.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oilers prospect Mitch Moroz enjoyed a breakout season in 2013-14. He had 35 goals and 63 points in 70 games. The previous two seasons combined, Moroz only had 29 goals. The big 6'3" winger has continued his strong play through the playoffs where he has six goals and 19 points through 21 games.

Curtis Lazar, drafted 17th overall by Ottawa in 2013, also enjoyed an outstanding year. In 58 games, Lazar had 41 goals and 76 points. He has added 10 goals 22 points in 21 playoff games.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

This is the second time the modern-day Oil Kings have made the Memorial Cup with their last appearance being in 2012. In that tournament, the Oil Kings won their tournament opener against host Shawinigan but then lost their second and third to Saint John and London. This set up a tiebreaker against Shawinigan in which the WHL club lost 6-1. Shawinigan went on to win the Cup over London in the Final.

Historically, the Oil Kings have appeared in the Memorial Cup 10 times, winning twice -- in 1963 and 1966. From 1960 to 1966, the Oil Kings appeared in the Memorial Cup Final for seven straight seasons.



HOW THEY GOT TO LONDON

Photo by Aaron Bell / OHL Images

The Guelph Storm got to London for the Memorial Cup in the most direct way possible: they had the best record in the Ontario Hockey League, with 108 points in 68 games. They also steamrolled through the competition in the OHL playoffs, winning each of their four series in five games.

They're also very familiar with this building, having faced the London Knights numerous times this season. Guelph visited London three times during the regular season and lost all three contests but won at the Budweiser Gardens when it counted, winning both playoff games in London.

In the OHL Final, Guelph defeated North Bay in five games quite convincingly, including a 10-1 drubbing in Game 4 at North Bay.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Rob Fabbri is draft eligible for 2014 and is putting a good case together to be a high pick. The 18-year-old centre was the OHL's playoff MVP with 13 goals and 15 assists in 16 games. The 5'10" 160-pounder had 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games.

Kerby Rychel was a first-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013. Acquired from Windsor at mid-season, Rychel has 11 goals and 32 points in 20 playoff games.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

The franchise has never won the Memorial Cup as the Guelph Storm, though they have appeared four times since moving to Guelph in 1990. They appeared in the tournament in 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2004. 1998 was their best showing, losing in the Final to the Portland Winterhawks.

Historically, the Guelph Platers (now located in Owen Sound) won the Memorial Cup in 1986 and the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters (now located in Kitchener) won in 1952.

The Storm franchise was originally known as the Toronto Marlboros and this franchise actually leads all teams in total Memorial Cups with seven. In 1964, the Marlboros defeated the Oil Kings to win the Memorial Cup.



HOW THEY GOT TO LONDON

Photo by Vincent Éthier / QMJHL

Arguably, the toughest journey to the Memorial Cup among the four participating teams belonged to the Val d'Or Foreurs. The Foreurs finished fourth in the QMJHL in the regular season with a record of 46-20-1-1.

After sweeping Acadie-Bathurst in the first round, it took six games to dispose of Drumondville in round two. In the third round, Val d'Or had to overcome a 3-2 series deficit against Halifax to win Game 6 at home then Game 7 one night later with travel back to Nova Scotia for the deciding game. Then once again, in the Finals, they were down 3-2 to Baie-Comeau and won Game 6 at home 6-3 before winning Game 7 on the road with a minute to play.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Anthony Mantha, drafted by Detroit in 2013, has had an unbelievable season. In 57 regular season games, he scored 57 goals and so far in the playoffs he has added 24 more goals in 24 games.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Val d'Or has appeared in the tournament twice since joining the QMJHL in 1993-94. They finished fourth in 1998 and lost to Red Deer in the Final in 2001.


HOW THEY GOT TO LONDON

London faced Edmonton in the 2012 Memorial Cup
(photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings)

The London Knights, of course, are the host team and are participating in the tournament for that reason. But they are not a team to be taken lightly. London is perennially a contender and once again had a strong season with a 49-14-1-4 record for 103 points in 68 games. In the first round, the Knights swept Windsor but in the second round, Guelph made quick work of London, winning four games to one.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bo Horvat was drafted ninth overall in 2013 by the Vancouver Canucks. He had 30 goals and 74 points in 54 games plus 11 more points in nine playoff games.

Max Domi was drafted 12th overall in 2013 by the Phoenix Coyotes. He had 93 points in 61 games this season and 10 points in nine playoff games.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Historically, the host team has not fared particularly well since the Memorial Cup went to a four-team format in 1983. The hosts have won eight times in 31 years but only three times have the hosts won after not appearing in their League final (as London has done this year). Those occurences were in 1999 (Ottawa), 2004 (Kelowna) and 2012 (Shawinigan).

London has only won the Memorial Cup once in its history, winning it the last time they hosted the tournament in 2005. Despite being a franchise since 1965, 2005 was their first Cup appearance. They finished second in 2012 and third in 2013 as they make a third straight appearance in 2014.

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