The Memorial Cup gets underway tonight in Regina, Saskatchewan with two Avs draftees looking to hoist the trophy a week from Sunday. Avs 2017 pick Nick Henry is on the host Regina Pats and Josh Anderson from Swift Current is part of the class of 2016. Let’s take a look back at their seasons to date before puck drop.
Henry was drafted 94th overall by the Avs in the 4th round of last summer’s draft. At development camp immediately after we found out he needed shoulder surgery and would be out until sometime in the Fall. He ended up returning to the Pats lineup in early November and like the rest of the team struggled to match the production from 16-17. He returned to the same top 6 right wing role and put up 14G/15A in 53 regular season games, adding 3 goals and an assist in the Pats 1st round series vs eventual WHL champs Swift Current. It was a bit of a setback after his 81 point draft year but I’m interested to see how he bounces back next season with a fully healed shoulder and a leadership role with Regina.
The Pats are making their first Mem Cup appearance since they hosted it in 2001 and first victory since 1974. They begin the tourney tonight against the OHL Champion Hamilton Bulldogs.
Like Henry, Anderson missed time in the Fall with a shoulder injury, albeit a less severe one. With Prince George lagging in the standings and Anderson in his Draft+2 year, they traded him to the Swift Current Broncos for a couple of 1st round picks at the WHL deadline. The change did him a lot of good. He’s always been a defensive defenseman but the Broncos opened up his offensive involvement quite a bit, using him on the PP occasionally and increasing his shot rate by about 50%. He ended the season with 3 goals and 11 assists in 54 games. Besides the personal effects, Swift Current ended up winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions which is great experience for a young man about to turn pro. The Avs signed him to an ELC as the season was winding down.
The Broncos are in the Memorial Cup for the first time in 25 years and looking for their 2nd championship. They open play vs Acadie-Bathurst on Saturday Afternoon.
Each teams plays the other 3 in round robin fashion then the top team is seeded in the final and 2nd/3rd play in the semi-final. If there is a tie for 3rd an elimination game is played to settle. Pick to click is Wednesday’s game featuring both Avs prospects.
Friday 10pm ET – Hamilton vs Regina
Saturday 4pm ET – Bathurst vs Swift Current
Sunday 7pm ET – Bathurst vs Regina
Monday 8pm ET – Hamilton vs Swift Current
Tuesday 10pm ET – Bathurst vs Hamilton
Wednesday 10pm ET – Swift Current vs Regina
Thursday 8pm ET – Elimination Game if necessary
Friday 10pm ET – Semi-Finals
Sunday 7pm ET – Finals
Besides Anderson & Henry, there are quite a few draft eligible players to watch. This is the last event before the combine in Buffalo so it’s a chance for everyone to tweak their boards for the final run to the draft June 22-23rd in Dallas. Aside from that, it’s always a good view just for kicks.
The field is down to 4 teams battling for the gold medal. Mikko Rantanen and the Finns were upset by Sven and the Swiss yesterday, setting up a Semi-Final with Tyson Jost and Canada tomorrow. So at least one Avs player is guaranteed a medal and a spot in the finals. Recent signee Pavel Francouz and the Czechs fell to the US, who will face Sweden in the other Semi.
Saturday 9am ET – SWE vs USA
Saturday 1pm ET – CAN vs SUI
Sunday 9:30am ET – Bronze Medal Game
Sunday 2pm ET – Championship Game
Here’s how the Avs players have done:
Mikko Rantanen – 5G/6A in 8 games. Scored one goal and assisted on the other in the Finns 3-2 loss to Switzerland yesterday. As of now he’s tied for 6th in tournament scoring but will play no further.
Pavel Francouz – Went 4-0 in prelims for the Czechs before losing 3-2 to the US yesterday. Finished with a .904 Sv% but 5 of the 12 goals he gave up were on the PP behind a leaky defensive team. Even though he didn’t face Sweden or Russia we got a decent idea of where he is before heading to North America next season. There’s some work ahead for Jussi Parkkila but Francouz has a great attitude about it and the promise is in his game for sure.
Sven Andrighetto – Has 2G/5A in 7 games so far for the upstart Swiss. Missed a game with a match penalty for a fairly egregious kneeing foul. As the Swiss were able to add Timo Meier and Kevin Fiala later in the tourney, he became part of a solid 2nd scoring line that has them poised for a medal for the first time in 4 years.
Tyson Jost – After missing the first game for perhaps logistical reasons he’s got 4 goals on only 11 shots (efficient!) and a couple of assists. Settled into a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Bailey, picking up an assist in the QF vs Russia. Canada will be the favorites against the Swiss in the Semis but they’ve been vulnerable this year.
The NHL Conference finals roll on of course so there’s still plenty of hockey viewing for your pleasure this weekend and next. The Eagles are in the ECHL Western Conference Finals vs the Ft Wayne Komets with games tonight and Saturday so keep an eye on that too. Remember, the desolate wasteland of Julaugust looms ahead…