Monday, May 29, 2017

Windsor Spitfires win 2017 Memorial Cup

The Windsor Spitfires are 2017 Memorial Cup champions.

The Spitfires won their third Canadian Hockey League championship with a 4-3 victory over the Erie Otters on Sunday night at the WFCU Centre.

The victory ended a perfect run for the Spits at the Memorial Cup, going 4-0 with two wins over Erie to go along with victories over Saint John and Seattle. Windsor has now won 12 straight Memorial Cup games going back to 2012.

It was a thrilling game with both teams leading at certain points and neither leading by more than a goal.
Windsor's Aaron Luchuk scored what proved to be the game winner at 5:07 of the third period. The Otters had some terrific offensive pressure happening throughout the third but could not beat Spitfires goaltender Michael DiPietro, who was by far the best netminder in the tournament.

The Otters came this close to tying it late:
The loss ends quite a run for the Otters, who completed their fourth straight 50-win season. They still won the OHL title this year (their only title during this four-year run), which is impressive.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Chabot named CHL Defenceman of the Year

Thomas Chabot has been named the Canadian Hockey League's Defenceman of the Year.

This afternoon's announcement wasn't a huge shock. Chabot has been considered one of the best players in junior hockey all year, winning the MVP award at the world juniors, QMJHL playoff MVP award, and the QMJHL Defenceman of the Year award.

From a CHL press release:

Ottawa Senators prospect Thomas Chabot of the Saint John Sea Dogs is the CHL’s Defenceman of the Year after scoring 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points in just 34 games played. The 20-year-old from Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, QC, was also a member of Canada’s National Junior Team earning a silver medal and Tournament MVP honours at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 18th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft helped the Sea Dogs to a first place finish in the QMJHL this season. Finalists for the award were Edmonton Oilers prospect Ethan Bear of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Darren Raddysh of the Erie Otters.

The 20-year-old recorded two goals and two assists in four games at this year's Memorial Cup.

Chabot is the first Sea Dog to win the award. He's the first QMJHL player to win the honour since Moncton's David Savard in 2010.

Here's the full list of CHL Award winners:

Top Prospect: Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings
Top Scorer: Sam Steel, Regina Pats
Sportsman of the Year: Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack
Humanitarian of the Year: Tyler Wong, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Scholastic Player of the Year: Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa 67’s
Coach of the Year: Ryan McGill, Owen Sound Attack
Rookie of the Year: Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads
Goaltender of the Year: Michael McNiven, Owen Sound Attack
Defenceman of the Year: Thomas Chabot, Saint John Sea Dogs
Player of the Year: Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters

Sea Dogs head coach Danny Flynn was nominated for the CHL Coach of the Year Award.

RECAP: Sea Dogs lose 6-3

FINAL: Saint John 3, Erie 6
WINDSOR, Ont. - That's all she wrote for the Saint John Sea Dogs' 2016-17 season.

The Sea Dogs' season came to an end on Friday night in Windsor, falling 6-3 to the OHL champion Erie Otters in the Memorial Cup semifinal.

It was a hard fought game - unlike the first time these two met - in what was arguably the best game of the tournament so far. Saint John's penalty kill was excellent and kept them in the game as the Otters were awarded seven power play opportunities.

Erie's power plays allowed them dominant much of the second period, outshooting Saint John 17-4. Despite the lopsided shot total, the game was tied 2-2 after two periods. But the Otters scored two quick goals in the third period en route to a 6-3 victory.

Taylor Raddysh scored twice for Erie while singles came from Darren Raddysh, Dylan Strome, German Poddubnyi and Warren Foegele. Troy Timpano made 20 saves in the victory.

Joe Veleno, Julien Gauthier and Thomas Chabot all scored for Saint John. Callum Booth made 31 saves in the loss.

To the notes...
  • Saint John nearly opened the scoring while shorthanded early in the first period when Mathieu Joseph fed Simon Bourque in front. But DeBrincat pulled the puck off the goal line to keep it scoreless.
  • Erie opened the scoring at 9:56 when Darren Raddysh made a great play in front, spinning around in front of the net and roofing the puck over a down Booth.
  • Saint John tied things at 1-1 at 14:10 when Veleno batted in a rebound of a Spencer Smallman shot.
  • The Otters were dominant at puck possession at times early in the second, forcing Booth to make some nice saves.
  • Imama went to the box at 10:39 for a check from behind. On the power play at 10:57, an Anthony Cirelli shot was stopped but a rebound was produced. Taylor Raddysh was in the slot to put it in after a scramble, making it 2-1 Otters.
  • Then Chabot headed off for a penalty. Then Highmore. Then Chabot again. Erie had plenty of pressure on all three power plays but could not add to their lead.
  • Then at 18:51, it looked as though the Otters were getting a power play, so Booth skated to the bench. Taylor Raddysh grabbed the puck but no whistle was blown. Raddysh entered the zone and fired the puck past an unprepared Booth, appearing to make it 3-1. But the goal was called off, as there was indeed an Erie penalty.
  • On the ensuing power play, Matthew Highmore was at the dot and fed Joseph down low. Joseph then tapped the puck to Gauthier who beat Timpano, tying the gam at 2-2 at 19:18.
  • Just 2:38 into the third, Strome went around Chase Stewart and beat Booth with a low wrist shot, giving the Otters the lead back.
  • Then at 3:45, Saint John turned the puck over in the corner. Ivan Lodnia grabbed the puck and fed Poddubnyi in front who beat Booth blocker side. 
  • On another power play at 12:31, Taylor Raddysh was near the goal line and slid the puck between a down Booth and the post, making it 5-2 Erie.
  • The Sea Dogs didn't go away, though. At 16:28, Gauthier was along the boards and found Chabot streaking in. Chabot fired the puck past Timpano just before running over the Erie goaltender, making it a 5-3 game.
  • The Dogs had Booth pulled for a while but could not net the equalizer. At 19:26, Foegele hit the empty net to make it a 6-3 final.
  • The first period was a bit different than Monday's match between the two where the Otters were up 5-2 and outshot Saint John 17-4.
  • Erie's power play heavy second period gave them a 17-4 shot advantage over Saint John in the frame.
  • Chabot took three minor penalties in the game.

Friday, May 26, 2017

NOTEBOOK: Otters confident in Timpano heading into tonight's semifinal

WINDSOR, Ont. - Troy Timpano's stats don't look that great at this year's Memorial Cup.

The Erie Otters netminder is sporting a 3.73 goals against average and a .823 save percentage heading into tonight's semifinal contest against the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Otters head coach Kris Knoblauch told reporters Friday morning at WFCU Centre that the numbers aren't representative of Timpano's play so far.

"We've done a good job at keeping the shots down, so that's why his save percentage doesn't look really good," said Knoblauch. "Numbers can be misleading a lot of time."

Knoblauch added that he feels Timpano didn't have much of a chance on the goals he has allowed so far in the tournament.

Timpano has been known to let in the occasional bad goal. He's also very active with the puck, which can create some interesting moments.

The netminder posted a 13-4-1 record to go along with a .895 SV% and 2.73 GAA during the OHL playoffs.

"We changed goalies a little bit throughout the playoffs where (Joseph) Murdaca came in, and he came up big. The players believe that Troy is our goalie. He's the guy that got us here throughout the regular season and playoffs."

The Otters are looking to advance to their first Memorial Cup final tonight.

This is the second ever Memorial Cup appearance for the Otters and their first since 2002. In '02, Erie lost 5-4 in overtime to the Victoriaville Tigres in the tournament semifinal. The Otters blew 3-0 and 4-2 leads in that game, with Victoriaville's Danny Groulx tying the game with five seconds remaining in the third period.

The Kootenay Ice defeated the Tigres 6-3 in the 2002 Memorial Cup final.

The Canadian Press caught up with Jonathan Huberdeau this week to talk about the Sea Dogs' 2011 Memorial Cup win.

"I'm watching them a lot," Huberdeau told CP about this year's Sea Dogs. "It's fun to always follow your team and it's great they have a chance to win this year."

Read the full story here.

Memorial Cup Game Day: at Erie

The Saint John Sea Dogs and Erie Otters meet in the Memorial Cup semifinal tonight at 8 p.m. at Windsor's WFCU Centre. Game time is 8 p.m.

TV/Radio/Webcast: Sportsnet and TVA Sports/96.1 NewSong FM/SN Now and CHL Live

Tournament status: The Sea Dogs are 1-2 following loses to Windsor and Erie and a win over Seattle. Erie is 2-1 following wins over Saint John and Seattle and a loss to Windsor.

Last games: The Sea Dogs are coming off a 7-0 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday at WFCU Centre. Joe Veleno scored twice for Saint John while Chase Stewart, Mathieu Joseph, Spencer Smallman, Cole Reginato and Bokondji Imama added singles. Callum Booth made 31 saves in the shutout victory. The Otters are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Wednesday. Kyle Maksimovich and Taylor Raddysh scored for Erie. Troy Timpano made 15 saves in the loss.

Head-to-head: The Sea Dogs are 0-1 all-time against the Otters while Erie is 1-0 against Saint John.

Last meeting: You all remember what happened.

Ex-Sea Dogs on the Otters: None.

Random stat: Neither of these teams have ever won a Memorial Cup semifinal game. The Otters lost to Victoriaville in 2002 and Saint John lost to Shawinigan in 2012. The Sea Dogs did not play in the semifinal game in 2011.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Otters expecting a different Sea Dogs team in Friday's semifinal

WINDSOR, Ont. - The Erie Otters are expecting to see a much different Saint John Sea Dogs team on Friday.

The Sea Dogs suffered their worst loss of the 2016-17 season in Monday's round robin game against the Otters, falling 12-5. Erie head coach Kris Knoblauch isn't expecting to see a similar game in Friday's Memorial Cup semifinal.

"It's going to be a completely different team," Knoblauch said on Thursday of the Sea Dogs. "We're not going to be scoring 12 goals. I wouldn't be surprised that, if we're going to win this game, it's going to be a 2-1 game. I expect a completely different team."

Knoblauch spoke to the media a day after the Otters fell 4-2 to the Windsor Spitfires in the final game of the round robin. The loss placed Erie into Friday's semifinal while Windsor earned an automatic berth into Sunday's championship game.

While Erie dominated puck possession at times on Wednesday against Windsor, they were unable to dig themselves out of the hole they got into. The game was much different than Erie's first two of the tournament, which the Otters had a fairly easy time with.

"We're confident. We feel good," said Knoblauch. "We're disappointed in our effort from that last game but we knew when we came here we had to win four games to win the Memorial Cup and we're still in that position."