Championship Central

It’s that time of year in the Pro and Major Junior hockey worlds were battle for championships are commencing.  In the CHL the after a very close and intense round robin play the MasterCard Memorial Cup Semifinal game has been decided and one of the four teams has punched their ticket straight to the Final game this Sunday.  The tournament featuring the championship teams from the three CHL leagues and the host team.  The teams in it this year are the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL), Swift Current Broncos (WHL), Acadie-Bathurst Titans (QMJHL), and the Regina Pats (WHL & host team).  In NHL the final series has been set with the Washington Capitals taking on the first year team of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The tournament is being played this year in the host city of Regina Saskatchewan, Canada home of the Regina Pats.  Thus far in the tournament, the WHL champion team the Swift Current Broncos have been eliminated from the tournament after losing all three games of their round robin play by one goal.  In fact all games during round robin have been decided by one goal, except for the game between the Acadie-Bathurst Titans and the Regina Pats which was a high scoring 8-6 game with the Titans taking the win.  The Titans, led by defenseman and top 2018 NHL draft prospect Noah Dobson and high scoring forward Antoine Morand, have made it to the final game on Sunday.  They await the winner of the semifinal game between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Regina Pats, and Regina forward Sam Steel currently leads all player in points with 11 in 3 games.  I

n their only round robin game Regina did come out on top against the Bulldogs with a 3-2 victory.  Hamilton did outshoot them in this game however, and beat the Titans, who scored 8 goals against Regina.  Hamiltons goalie and Detroit Red Wings prospect Kaden Fulcher has a hug lead on the other goalies in the tournament in terms of goals against average (2.01) and a save percentage of 0.931.  Regardless this is sure to be a close game and will most likely be decided by 1 or 2 goals.  The difference maker for Regina is going to be Sam Steel who scored 131 points last season and put up 83 points in 54 games this season.  If he can keep up his strong play that is going to be huge for Regina.  For Hamilton I have to look to their goalkeeper Kaden Fultcher, he putting up some unreal statistics right now and if he plays like he has been playing, Hamilton won’t need to score a lot of goal to win.

Moving on to the NHL, the Washington Capitals led by Alexander Ovechkin will take on the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who somehow in their first year as a team have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.  This is sure to be an exciting match up as neither team has won the cup before.  The biggest story comes with Las Vegas, who not only stayed atop the league standing for majority of the season, but also came into the playoffs strong only losing only three games so far in three rounds.  One thing to look at though is the travel that these teams will have to do over the course of the series being at opposites sides of the country, could this take a toll on the players?  Boston and Vancouver did the same thing a few years back and I have all the confidence in the world that these players can will have no issue with the travel.  Game 1 will be played on Monday at 8:00pm in Las Vegas and don’t be surprised if this series goes to a game 7.    I hope to post a more in-depth preview of the series next week sometime before the first game.  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.  Cheers!

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