The world has changed immensely since the last time the Memorial Cup was handed out. However, the tradition and excitement that stems from the struggle to earn junior hockey’s top prize will once again take center stage from June 20-29 in Saint John, New Brunswick.
Here’s a snapshot of the four teams preparing do battle in the Port City :
Building for this moment since last hoisting the President Cup in 2017, the Saint John Sea Dogs came down the stretch as the team to beat, winners of 15 consecutive contests to close out the regular season.
Led by the QMJHL’s top goal scorer in New York Islanders draftee William Dufour, breakthrough star Josh Lawrence, savvy defensemen including mid-season acquisition Vincent Sevigny and Calgary Flames prospect Jeremie Poirier, not to mention the almost unbeatable Thomas Couture and 2021 President Cup winner Nikolas Hurtubise between the pipes, the Sea Dogs, with a roster boasting eight NHL drafted players, shocked the league by dropping their first-round series to the ninth place Rimouski Oceanic, losing a winner-take-all Game 5 on home ice in overtime.
For all the drama that has unfolded on the ice however, there’s just as much to talk about off it, as the organization parted ways with Head Coach Gordie Dwyer in the weeks following the club’s early postseason exit. Stepping behind the bench for the tournament is a name not unfamiliar to the Maritime hockey community as Gardiner MacDougall brings along the experience that he has earned from seven national titles with the University of New Brunswick Reds and two World University Games Championships, among other accolades. He becomes the fifth person to handle head coaching duties since the start of the 2019 season.
While the tournament has adopted the theme “One for All”, make no mistake, the key word emanating from the host team dressing room is “redemption”.
For all the back stories surrounding the Dogs, history is one thing on the organization’s side, having participated in this tournament for the fourth time in just over a decade, including the Jonathan Huberdeau-led title winners in 2011.
General Manager | Trevor Georgie
Head Coach | Gardiner MacDougall
Captain | Vincent Sevigny
2021-22 Regular Season Record | 47-17-1-3 (98 pts)
Second place, Maritimes Division
Third overall, QMJHL
Leading Scorer | William Dufour – 66GP – 56G – 60A – 116P
Top Goaltender | Thomas Couture – 29-6-3-0 – 2.53GAA – .907SV% – 2 SO
Lost 3-2 to Rimouski in Round 1
Previous Tournament Appearances – 2011, 2012 & 2017
Previous Memorial Cup Championship – 2011
As the oldest franchise in the QMJHL, the Shawinigan Cataractes carry the weight of history on their shoulders. Injuries and a very competitive top half of the league standings left the Cataractes with a rather deceptive seventh place showing in the regular season.
However, as the roster would indicate, that showing was in no way a reflection of the explosive – and, as it would turn out, clutch – abilities of this group.
A pair of NHL first-rounders in QMJHL Playoff MVP Mavrik Bourque (Dallas – 2020) and Xavier Bourgault (Edmonton – 2021) played pivotal roles throughout the postseason. However, it was the third member of that line, overager Pierrick Dube, who arguably turned the most heads as the playoffs rolled along, contributing the series-winning goal against his former team, the Quebec Remparts, in the semis before netting the championship-winning tally in overtime of Game 5 against the Charlottetown Islanders. That goal capped off a magical overtime run in the 2022 postseason for the Cataractes, who went 7-0 beyond regulation overall.
The blueline combines a mix of veteran savvy with young talent, all of which pitched in to deliver the organization its first President Cup. Zachary Massicotte, a key acquisition by GM Martin Mondou last season, strung together big minutes all season long, as did fellow veteran and Washington Capitals draftee Martin Has. Complimenting this duo were second-year rearguards Isaac Menard and Angus Booth as well as rookie phenom Jordan Tourigny. Between the pipes, Antoine Coulombe put together another steady season in Shawinigan while working in tandem with the reliable Charles-Antoine Lavallee. The duo combined for an impressive 2.31 GAA during the Cataractes’ playoff march.
A historical storyline to this year’s tournament involves the Cataractes, who are celebrating the tenth anniversary of their Memorial Cup triumph on home ice. Before capturing what remains the club’s lone national championship in 2012, the Cataractes first disposed of none other than this year’s host, the Sea Dogs, in a memorable tournament semifinal.
General Manager | Martin Mondou
Head Coach | Daniel Renaud
Captain | Mavrik Bourque
2021-22 Regular Season Record – 40-24-1-3 (84 pts)
Second place, Central Division
Seventh overall, QMJHL
Leading Scorer | Olivier Nadeau – 65GP – 35G – 43A – 78P
Top Goaltender | Antoine Coulombe – 22-13-0-3 – 2.73GAA – .907SV% – 3 SO
Defeated Rouyn-Noranda 3-0 in Round 1
Defeated Gatineau 3-0 in Quarterfinals
Defeated Quebec 3-2 in Semifinals
Defeated Charlottetown 4-1 in Final
Previous Tournament Appearances – 1985 & 2012
Previous Memorial Cup Championship – 2012
Like the other three tournament representatives, the Edmonton Oil Kings have earned a berth in the tournament in the past decade.
The Oil Kings are the only club at this year’s tournament to feature a first-round NHL draft pick up front, on defense and in nets. Winger Jake Neighbours, a 2020 St. Louis Blues draftee, represented the centerpiece of a tight leadership group. Kaden Guhle, chosen 16th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2020, was a driving force on the backend, joined by fellow veteran and Nashville prospect Luke Prokop. Between the pipes, Sebastian Cossa displayed the steady play that compelled the Detroit Red Wings to choose him 15th overall in 2021.
Unfortunately, fellow first-rounder and regular season scoring leader Dylan Guenther, a 2021 Arizona Coyotes draftee, will be unavailable for the tournament due to an injury suffered during the WHL Final. This group rose to the challenge in defeating the CHL’s top regular season team, the Winnipeg Ice, in the league Semifinals.
With the participation of the Oil Kings, Sea Dogs and Cataractes, all of whom appeared in the 2012 event, this marks just the second time the same three franchises have faced one another in two separate Memorial Cup tournaments. The only other instances occurring in the 1989 and 1993 editions of the championship (Laval, Peterborough and Swift Current).
General Manager – Kirt Hill
Head Coach – Brad Lauer
Captain – Jake Neighbours
2021-22 Regular Season Record – 50-14-3-1 (104 pts)
First place, Central Division
Second overall, WHL
Leading Scorer – Dylan Guenther – 59GP – 45G – 46A – 91P
Top Goaltender – Sebastian Cossa – 33-9-2-1 – 2.28GAA – .913SV%, 6 SO
Defeated Lethbridge 4-0 in Round 1
Defeated Red Deer 4-0 in Quarterfinals
Defeated Winnipeg 4-1 in Semifinals
Defeated Seattle 4-2 in Final
Previous Tournament Appearance – 2012 & 2014
Previous Memorial Cup Championship – 2014
Already boasting a strong nucleus including forwards Logan Morrison, Avrey Hayes and Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Mysak, defensemen Nathan Staios and captain Colton Kammerer, plus the solid goaltending of Marco Costantini, the Bulldogs pulled off two trades that would prove crucial in putting the team over the top en route to its second OHL championship.
In picking up Anaheim 2021 first-rounder Mason McTavish, who began the season as a member of the Ducks, as well as defenseman and Montreal prospect Arber Xhekaj, from Peterborough and Kitchener, respectively, the Bulldogs took things to the next level.
The two acquisitions would combine for 22 goals, including five game-winners, and 45 points as the Bulldogs bulldozed their way to a 12-0 record through the first three rounds of the playoffs before finally vanquishing the formidable Windsor Spitfires in the only Game 7 among the three league championship series.
Though this is the second appearance in four years at the Memorial Cup for the Bulldogs, the story of Hamilton teams at the event stretches back much farther; the city boasts a pair of national champions in the Red Wings (1962) and Fincups (1976).
General Manager – Steve Staios
Head Coach – Jay McKee
Captain – Colton Kammerer
2021-22 Regular Season Record – 51-12-3-2 (107 pts)
First place, East Division
First overall, OHL
Leading Scorer – Logan Morrison – 60GP – 34G – 66A – 100P
Top Goaltender – Marco Costantini – 31-9-2-2 – 2.32GAA – .917SV% – 6 SO
Defeated Peterborough 4-0 in Round 1
Defeated Mississauga 4-0 in Quarterfinals
Defeated North Bay 4-0 in Semifinals
Defeated Windsor 4-3 in Final
Previous Tournament Appearances – 2018
Previous Memorial Cup Championship – None