The 2011-2012 began with 59 Canadian Hockey League teams all sharing the goal of playing this week in Shawinigan. Today the Edmonton Oil Kings will face-off against the host Shawinigan Cateractes in the opening game of the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The event continues on Saturday when the Saint John Sea Dogs and London Knights take the ice in game two.
SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS - QMJHL
Overall Record: 66-16-0-3 (50-15-0-3 Regular, 16-1 Playoffs)
With three consecutive regular season titles under their belt, Saint John captured their second league championship in a row. Charles Coyle leads the Sea Dogs after scoring 15 goals and 34 points during the QMJHL playoffs. The Minnesota Wild prospect has been smoking hot after joining the Sea Dogs in December after leaving Boston University. Former NHL'er Gerard Gallant does things the old fashioned way and has his team ready to play. That does not mean that things are going to be easy for the defending champions.
Overall Record 65-21-0-1 (49-18-0-1 Regular Season, 16-3 Playoffs)
London is led by forward Austin Watson after he scored 17 points in the post-season. The Nashville Predators' prospect contributed to the 2009 championship won by the Windsor Spitfires. Goalie Michael Houser is as stingy as they come and has been solid all season.
Overall Record 66-19-3-4 (50-15-3-4 Regular Season, 16-4 Playoffs)
Goalie Laurent Brossoit was named the MVP of the WHL championship series and will be expected to carry the load in order for Edmonton to be in the hunt.
SHAWINIGAN CATARACTS - HOST
Overall Record 52-20-3-4
Like the North American Hockey League's Robertson Cup host Texas Tornado, the Cataractes laid an egg in the playoffs, going down in the 2nd round. Morgan Ellis leads the team and boasts a team-best plus-14 rating. Will they duplicate the Tornado's championship effort?
Edmonton Oil Kings vs. Shawinigan Cataracts
The defensive minded Oil Kings will dramatically limit Shawinigan's offensive output to just a minimum number of scoring opportunities. Will the host Cataracts be able to capitalize on enough of them? I don't think so. Edmonton is going to win this one.
What do you think?