Saturday, July 2 2022

The Saint John Sea Dogs will host the four-team tournament featuring the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, QMJHL champion Shawinigan Cataractes and WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

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SAINT JOHN, NB — After a two-year hiatus, the Memorial Cup returns to crown a major junior hockey champion.

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The Saint John Sea Dogs will host the four-team tournament, also featuring the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, QMJHL champion Shawinigan Cataractes and WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings .

The Sea Dogs host the Bulldogs in the tournament opener on Monday, while the Cataractes and Oil Kings play Tuesday at TD Station Arena.

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Saint John hasn’t played a game since May 12, after being eliminated in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs by the Rimouski Oceanic.

This is the 102nd edition of the Memorial Cup. The previous two tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is a breakdown of the four teams participating in the 2022 Memorial Cup.

SAINT JOHN’S SEA DOG

The Sea Dogs won the right to host the first Memorial Cup since 2019 after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 and 2021 tournaments, beating Quebec.

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The Sea Dogs had a strong regular season, finishing third in the QMJHL Eastern Conference standings with an impressive 47-17-1-3 record, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Saint John was led offensively by William Dufour, who had 56 goals and 116 points in 66 games this season, finishing second in the QMJHL scoring race.

Dufour, 20, a fifth-round pick of the New York Islanders in the 2020 NHL Draft, was acquired by the Sea Dogs ahead of the season from the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Dufour and Josh Lawrence are a strong offensive tandem for the Sea Dogs this season. Lawrence, 20, who is undrafted, had a stellar season with 31 goals and 101 points.

The Sea Dogs were surprised in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs by the Rimouski Oceanic, losing in the fifth and decisive game of the series 4-3 in overtime.

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Due to regular season disruptions due to COVID-19, the first three rounds of the QMJHL playoffs have been reduced to best-of-five playoffs.

HAMILTON BULLDOGS

Former NHL defenseman Steve Staios built a championship team as president and general manager of the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs are back in the Memorial Cup for the first time since 2018 when they were eliminated in the semifinals. They won the OHL title that season, beating the Windsor Spitfires 4-3 in the best-of-seven final.

The Bulldogs finished first in the OHL Eastern Conference with a 51-12-3-2 record, then advanced through the first three rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Peterborough Petes, Mississauga Steelheads and North Bay Battalion.

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Hamilton lost the opening game of the Finals, ending a 22-game winning streak dating back to the regular season. They were pushed to Game 7 where the Bulldogs finally brushed off the Spitfires with a 6-1 win.

Hamilton is led offensively by Logan Morrison who scored 34 goals and 100 points in the regular season and added 17 goals and 39 points in 19 playoff games. The Bulldogs also feature Anaheim Ducks first-round pick — third overall — Mason McTavish, who was acquired from Peterborough in January.

McTavish started the season with the Ducks and became the youngest player in franchise history to score an NHL goal, 109 days after his 19th birthday. He also played with the San Diego Gulls and the Canadian Junior World Team this season.

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The Bulldogs will be without captain Colton Kammerer. The overage defender was injured in the second game of the final against the Spitfires.

SHAWINIGAN CATARACTS

The Shawinigan Cataractes had a strong regular season, finishing third in the QMJHL Western Conference standings, but were seen by some as surprise league champions.

Located roughly halfway between Montreal and Quebec, Shawinigan upset the Quebec Ramparts in the playoff semifinals before eliminating the Charlottetown Islanders in the best-of-seven final.

The Cataractes have had to deal with numerous injuries this year, which has affected their regular season record. They regained their health late in the season and fired up in the playoffs, sweeping the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Gatineau Olympiques before coming up against the Ramparts in the semi-finals.

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Shawinigan won the fifth game of the best of five series 5-3 in Quebec.

Offensively, the Cataractes are led by Buffalo Sabers draft pick Olivier Nadeau, Edmonton Oilers prospect Xavier Bourgault and Dallas Stars first-round pick Mavrik Bourque.

Nadeau had 35 goals and 78 points in 65 games, while Bourgault had 36 goals and 75 points in 43 games, and Bourque had 20 goals and 68 points in 31 games.

The trio had 25 goals and 63 points in 16 playoff games. Forward Pierrick Dube also had 12 goals and 18 points in 16 playoff games.

EDMONTON OIL KINGS

As one of the most talented junior teams ever assembled, the Oil Kings are looking to end a Memorial Cup drought for the WHL since they last represented the league at the tournament in 2014.

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The Oil Kings will have to do without one of their best players, as Dylan Guenther was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

The Arizona Coyotes’ first-round pick — ninth overall — in 2021, Guenther had 13 goals and 21 assists in 16 playoff games before being injured in Game 3 of the WHL Finals against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Despite Guenther’s absence, the Oil Kings are still loaded with NHL draft picks, including first-rounders defenseman Kaiden Guhle (Montreal Canadiens), forward Jake Neighbors (St. Louis Blues) and goaltender Sebastian Cossa (Detroit Red Wings).

Edmonton also includes NHL rookies Luke Prokop, Justin Sourdif, Jakub Demek and Jalen Luypen.

Sourdif, Neighbours, Guenther, Guhle and Cossa were all members of Team Canada at the world junior championships last December before the tournament was postponed due to COVID-19 and rescheduled for August.

The Oil Kings swept the first two rounds of the playoffs before eliminating the Winnipeg Ice in the semifinals and the Thunderbirds in the final.

Without Guenther in the lineup, it will be up to the rest of the team to pick up the slack, including forward Carter Souch, who has 12 goals and 21 points in 19 playoff games.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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