The junior hockey season ends tonight, as the Memorial Cup Final goes in Quebec City at 5pm MT on the Sportsnet national feed.
The OHL Champion Oshawa Generals, undefeated in this tournament, will face off against the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets for junior hockey’s richest prize. Flames second round pick Hunter Smith is expected to play a key role in this game, likely put into a shut-down spot against Oilers prospect Leon Draisiatl.
As the home team, Oshawa has last change. Smith’s line was effective enough in shutting down future Oilers draft pick Connor McDavid in the OHL Championship series that they managed to qualify for this tournament, so it could easily happen again.
Looking at recent history, Flames prospects have been more successful in their pro careers when they lose in the Memorial Cup Final:
- Tyler Wotherspoon’s Portland Winterhawks lost in the 2013 Final to Halifax.
- Greg Nemisz’s Windsor Spitfires beat Brandon 9-1 in the 2010 Final.
- Greg Nemisz’s Windsor Spitfires beat Mikael Backlund’s (and Ryley Grantham’s) Kelowna Rockets 4-1 in the 2009 Final.
The list of Memorial Cup Final losers (Wotherspoon, Backlund, Grantham, J.D. Watt) is more impressive than the winners (Nemisz, Mitch Wahl, Matt Keetley, Gord Baldwin), at least in terms of pro aspirations. Lance Bouma was on the 2007 Vancouver team that won, but he wasn’t a Flames pick yet at that point.