Being clearly provincial and partisan towards the Ontario Hockey League, I am rooting for the Hamilton Bulldogs to win the 100th rendition of the prestigious Memorial Cup championship tournament.
The OHL champs from Hamilton will face off against the host Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League tonight in the semi-final match of the Memorial Cup. The one-game showdown is slated to begin at 10:00 (Eastern Time) and will be televised on Sportsnet.
The winner of tonight’s semi-final will advance to Sunday’s title tilt against the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan. The finale is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
Hamilton will be looking to keep the Memorial Cup trophy in Ontario. Windsor Spitfires of the OHL are the reigning Memorial Cup champions, having won the national title in 2017 as the host entry.
In fact, teams from the OHL have won the last three Memorial Cup championships.
Before Windsor’s 2017 triumph, the London Knights won the coveted cup in 2016 and the Oshawa Generals brought it to Ontario in 2015. Of note, both London and Oshawa hoisted the Memorial Cup after thrilling overtime victories.
As for Hamilton and its bid to make it four straight Memorial Cup championships for the OHL, the Bulldogs posted a record of 2-1 during the round-robin portion of this year’s tournament with all three of their games decided by one goal. Hamilton opened with a 3-2 loss to Regina before rebounding to edge the since-eliminated Swift Current Broncos of the WHL 2-1 and then nipping Acadie-Bathurst by a 3-2 score.
It has been a stirring post season run for the Bulldogs this spring. Hamilton won the Eastern Conference title with consecutive five-game series wins over the Ottawa 67s, Niagara IceDogs and Kingston Frontenacs before upsetting the Western Conference champion Soo Greyhounds in a six-game set to win the OHL championship.
Thus far in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Bulldogs have allowed the fewest goals of any of the four teams, giving up just six markers in three games. Hamilton goalie Kaden Fulcher — a National Hockey League prospect of the Detroit Red Wings — has a .931 save percentage to go with a 2.00 goals against average in the three games.
On the flip side, Hamilton has been somewhat stymied offensively with just seven goals of its own in the three games. This, after the Bulldogs rang up 25 goals in six games en route to defeating the favoured Greyhounds in the OHL championship series.
At any rate, here’s to a Hamilton victory over Regina tonight and a berth in Sunday’s championship game against Acadie-Bathurst.
There are those who actually believe that writers do not cheer for one team to defeat another.
Really. As if.
Let’s go, Bulldogs!
PHOTO: Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Kaden Fulcher.