SASKATOON, SK – The 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup is on the line on Sunday as Ty Rattie and the Portland Winterhawks battle Nathan MacKinnon and the Halifax Mooseheads in the Championship game in Saskatoon, SK. (5:00pm MT; 7:00pm ET Sportsnet).
The Mooseheads, the QMJHL Champions, have been waiting for four days to play for the Memorial Cup, having booked the automatic berth in the final after posting a 2-1 round robin record. Portland’s win over Saskatoon on the final day of round robin play on Wednesday ensured the CHL’s top-ranked team would be playing in Sunday’s championship contest.
“It’s been a long road to get here,” said Mooseheads’ 17-year-old star Nathan MacKinnon, who has put up four goals and eight points in three tournament games, including a hat trick in the Mooseheads’ 7-4 round robin win over the Winterhawks last Saturday.
“We’ve been trying to keep our emotions in check, because the game is going to be filled with emotion and it’s going to be a fun and exciting game, I’m sure,” he said.
The Winterhawks, who also went 2-1 in round robin play, booked their place in the MasterCard Memorial Cup final after edging the OHL Champion London Knights 2-1 in the semi-final game on Friday night. Ty Rattie, a St. Louis Blues prospect, scored the winning goal – his tournament-leading fifth goal – on a wicked wrist shot in the third period.
Coming off a tough, competitive game versus the Knights, the Winterhawks are feeling good heading into the Championship game and looking for some redemption versus the only team to have beaten them in the round robin.
“After the first game, we really wanted another shot at them,” said Rattie, who co-leads the tournament in scoring with eight points in four games. “Now, the top two teams in the CHL are going to go at it for all the marbles.
“This is what we’ve been playing for all year, and we’re going to put it all on the line on Sunday,” he said.
The first meeting between the teams, the tournament’s second round robin contest, was an exciting contest between two of the top offensive Clubs in the entire CHL. A wild second period saw the Hawks jump out to a 3-1 lead early on only to see Halifax rebound with five goals to end the period en route to the 7-4 win.
Both teams know they can win by playing their style and by keeping in check the other team’s top offensive stars. Needless to say, confidence is high on both sides, and rightfully so with the top two teams in the entire CHL meeting for final game of the 2012-13 Major Junior season.
“They are a great hockey team, we know we will have our hands full,” said Winterhawks’ acting head coach Travis Green of the Championship match-up. “But, I also know that, with our team, when we play our best, we are tough to beat…I have a lot of faith in our guys.
“This is what we have fought for since we came together in August, and I’m confident that my guys will bring their best game to the table,” he said.
Dominique Ducharme, who was named the CHL Coach of the Year at the CHL Awards on Saturday, feels his team will just need to continue playing their game to have success. After all, the Mooseheads won an astounding 76 of the 88 games they have played since the beginning of the 2012-13 regular season.
“We know their strengths and why they are a good team, obviously,” said Ducharme of the Mooseheads’ final opponent of the season.
“We haven’t changed our approach all year, we think only of ourselves, and we are preparing to play our best game of the year,” he said. “You’re always having little things you need to be careful with or take advantage of with every opponent you face, but the most important thing is to make sure you are at your best.”
The 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup is proudly supported by MasterCard, title sponsor of this event for 15 straight years. Associate sponsors include Bank of Montreal, Subway, Old Dutch, Post, and broadcast partners Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup Schedule:
Game 1 – London 3, Saskatoon 2
Game 2 – Halifax 7, Portland 4
Game 3 – Saskatoon 5, Halifax 2
Game 4 – Portland 6, London 3
Game 5 – Halifax 9, London 2
Game 6 – Portland 4, Saskatoon 2
Tie-Breaker; London 6, Saskatoon 1
Semi-Final; Portland 2, London 1
MasterCard Memorial Cup Championship Game; Portland Winterhawks vs. Halifax Mooseheads; Sunday, May 26; 5:00pm (7:00 pm Eastern).
For more information about the event please visit www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca