Five Takeaways from Hamilton’s hard-fought win over Swift Current
The Hamilton Bulldogs peppered 56 shots on the Swift Current goal, emerging with a 2-1 victory thanks to a late game winner from Marian Studenic. Here’s a look at five takeaways from Monday’s closely-matched contest.
1. The battle of 0-1 teams has a storied history at the Mastercard Memorial Cup. The last of such battles took place in 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets and Rimouski Oceanic both suffered defeats in their opening games before facing each other in the third game of the tournament, which was won by the Rockets by a 7-3 score. While it helped them to avoid going 0-2, it didn’t help them in the end as they ultimately fell in the championship final.
Of the last fave battles of 0-1 teams, the winner of that game has gone on to reach the championship final four times (2015 Kelowna Rockets, 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings, 2011 Mississauga Steelheads, 2012 Brandon Wheat Kings, and 2009 Rimouski Oceanic. Of those four teams, only the Oil Kings have emerged victorious from that game.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the loser of the ‘Battle of the 0-1s’ though. The 2009 Windsor Spitfires famously started 0-2 before winning three straight games en route to capturing their first of three Mastercard Memorial Cups.
2. Edmonton Oilers prospect Stuart Skinner put on the performance of a lifetime against the Bulldogs, stopping 54 of 56 shots despite ending up with the 2-1 loss. Skinner’s performance marked the most saves by a goaltender at a Mastercard Memorial Cup game since Mike Murphy stopped 54 of 57 shots in a 4-3 overtime win for the Belleville Bulls back in 2008.
3. Goals from Colby Sissons and Marian Studenic marked the first time at the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup that two prospects from the same NHL team — in this case the New Jersey Devils — had scored against each other.
The last time this feat occurred wasn’t all that long ago, taking place in the semi-final of the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup when Carolina Hurricanes prospects Warren Foegele, playing for the Erie Otters, and Julien Gauthier, playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs, both found the back of the net in the same game.
4. Monday’s win by the Hamilton Bulldogs continued a trend of tough results for Western Hockey League teams against the Ontario Hockey League at the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
The OHL is now 7-3 against the WHL in the past 10 meetings and had won five straight games until Friday’s tournament-opening loss by the Bulldogs to the host Regina Pats.
Since the adoption of the round-robin format for the tournament, the WHL has had the last laugh though in the ultimate head-to-head matchups, winning 10 of the 17 meetings in Mastercard Memorial Cup championship game.
5. Despite sitting at 1-1 and 0-2 respectively, there is still hope for the two Western Hockey League teams in this year’s tournament. Of the last 10 Mastercard Memorial cup hosted by a WHL market, a WHL team has been involved in nine of the 10 championship games, featuring two occurrences where both WHL teams made it to the championship game, once in 1989 and again in 2007.
Wednesday’s all-WHL matchup will be a big one to say the least. Of the past 10 round-robin meetings between WHL teams at the Mastercard Memorial Cup, the WHL Champion in 6-4, but lost the most recent meeting back in 2016 when the Red Deer Rebels defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings by a 2-1 score. Of those 10 meetings, six have featured teams from the same conference battling against each other, with the WHL Champions and host teams split 3-3 in those meetings.