Thursday, May 18, 2017

Five things to know for Dogs/Spits

WINDSOR, Ont. - The Saint John Sea Dogs begin the 2017 Memorial Cup on Friday against the host Windsor Spitfires.

Game time is 8 p.m. with puck drop expected to happen around 8:20 p.m. at the WFCU Centre. The game can be watched on Sportsnet and heard on 96.1 NewSong FM.

Here are five things to know/watch for in Saint John's tournament opener.

Windsor's rest or rust
No doubt one of the biggest storylines of this tournament is how the Windsor Spitfires will perform following their lengthy layoff. The Spitfires haven't played a game since April 4 when they were eliminated in the first round by the London Knights. Will the Spitfires be rested and ready or show signs of rust?

Starting off right
Momentum can be critical in a short tournament like the Memorial Cup. The team that gets off to a good start tomorrow could be setting themselves up for not only a good game but a good tournament. Let's not forget how important Tomas Jurco's goal, which came 1:44 into Saint John's first ever Memorial Cup game in 2011, seemed to give a young Dogs team confidence on the big stage.

Welcome back
Neither of these teams are strangers to playing in - or winning - the Memorial Cup, but it's the first time in some time that either are playing this late in May. The Spitfires' last Memorial Cup tournament was in 2010 (which they won) while Saint John's was in 2012 (they placed third).

On a roll
The Sea Dogs are entering the Memorial Cup on a high, sweeping the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the President Cup Final and winning six straight overall. The Dogs went 8-1 on the road during the post-season and have won three straight away from Harbour Station. The Sea Dogs will be the road team on Friday before being the home team on Monday and Tuesday.

NHL picks galore
If you watch junior hockey to follow NHL prospects, Friday's game is one to watch. The Spitfires features nine drafted or signed players on their roster while the Sea Dogs have 11, giving the game a total of 20. That doesn't include yet-to-be-drafted prospects.

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