Pucks ‘n mucks

May 26, 2014

I am not a fan of the one-game-winner-take-all format to decide the Memorial Cup championship.

The way I see it, it takes a seven-game series to win any playoff round in the Canadian Hockey League. So why should the CHL championship — and the Memorial Cup that goes with it — be decided by one game?

To be sure, the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm were favourites to defeat the best of the Western Hockey League, the Edmonton Oil Kings, and win the 2014 Memorial Cup title.

And in a seven-game series, Guelph probably would have defeated Edmonton.

Having said that, Guelph had the same opportunity that Edmonton had to win the Memorial Cup in Sunday’s one-game showdown.

It doesn’t mean much that Guelph, by most accounts, is a better team than Edmonton.

Edmonton won.

Guelph lost.

Game over.

Except to say that I feel bad for my lawyer chum David Cameletti, who is a big Guelph fan.

David is from Sault Ste. Marie and moved to Guelph with his wife and family several years back.

A passionate fan whose favourite National Hockey League team is the Toronto Maple Leafs, David at least had the good sense to become an OHL fan of the Storm when he moved to Guelph.

Other than wanting Guelph to win because of my lawyer friend, I shed no tears that the Storm lost the Memorial Cup even if it is the best team in Canadian major junior hockey.

In the one-game final, Edmonton was the better team.


As far as the United Hockey Union is concerned, there is no longer a difference between Canadian and American players.

The UHU, at a meeting in Detroit on the weekend, voted to declare all North American players as non-imports, which essentially eliminates any borders between Canada and the United States.

“We wanted to be sure that we have a player pool that college coaches can recruit from and the North American hockey player fits that description,” said UHU president Ron White. “This change makes roster rules standard for all four of our leagues.”

All other players from outside North America will continue to be classified as imports.

The UHU serves as the governing body for the new Canadian International Hockey League as well as the Midwest Jr. Hockey League, Northern States Hockey League and Western States Hockey League.

As was first reported here, the UHU on the weekend welcomed the CIHL as its newest member.


Though the Canadian International Hockey League and Midwest Jr. Hockey League are separate factions, the two United Hockey Union loops will play some crossover games in 2014-2015.

Initial plans are to hold a pair of Showcase Tournaments, beginning with a September weekend in the Michigan hockey hotbed of Traverse City.

Aside from having watched a few games on FastHockey.com, I am relatively new to the MWJHL, which just began play in 2012.

What I like about those who I have talked to within the MWJHL is that they have no delusions about their young league.

Being just two years old, MWJHL teams have moved more than 50 players on to the Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association and club-level, American Collegiate Hockey Association ranks.

As of now, the MWJHL is not seen as a development league for Division 1, NCAA schools, though it did send five players up to the North American Hockey League in 2013-2014.

MWJHL commissioner Scott Gardiner takes pride in the strides that the league has made in two short years.

“When we got involved in junior hockey in the first place, the top priority of the MWJHL was — and will always be — to get these kids in front of college hockey coaches,” said Gardiner. “I see our advancement numbers growing — not only the rest of this summer but in subsequent seasons.”

Gardiner, who also coaches the 2013-2014 MWJHL champion Traverse City Hounds, is excited about the addition of the CIHL under the UHU umbrella.

“Having the CIHL join us was a great day for junior hockey,” said the 49-year old Gardiner, who during his playing days, was a high-end Ontario Hockey League forward with the Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires.

Great day for junior hockey.

Those were the words that coach-general manager Dan Vasquez and scout Bob Brown of the MWJHL’s Detroit Fighting Irish also used in welcoming the CIHL into the UHU fold.


To listen to ageless Erie Otters owner-general manager Sherry Bassin talk, he is the man most-responsible for the success of the team that finished second overall in the 20-team Ontario Hockey League in 2013-2014 and figures to be strong again in 2014-2015.

Motor-mouth Bassin, who has never shied away from self-promotion, has been talking up — to all who will listen — how he has resurrected his Otters after years at or near the bottom of the OHL.

To be sure, Bassin has had great success over his long OHL managerial career, having taken three different franchises to the Memorial Cup tournament — Oshawa Generals, Soo Greyhounds and Erie.

Part of what Bassin is good at is surrounding himself with good people.

Ergo, methinks Bassin should start passing around some credit to others who played a major roles in the turnaround that has transpired in Erie, namely assistant GM Dave Brown, superscout Scott Halpenny and head coach Kris Knoblauch.

PHOTO: Members of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Guelph Storm shake hands after Sunday’s Memorial Cup final. (Photo by Aaron Bell.)

What you think about “Pucks ‘n mucks”

  1. A good write-up with # of good points Randy.
    The MWJHL is getting “close” ur right. Its on par with the NA3 or at least getting real close to the NA3.

  2. Geulph goalie pic bad time for bad game but oh well if they lissen to me they trade for Pattersen from Sagginaw.

  3. .. Am so looking forward to watching the Fighting Irish play the Canadian teams and compare there style of play .. On the subject of Non-Imports: great move by the UHU to class all North Americans players the same way as they should be!

  4. Randy: in your opinien is the MWJHL as good of a junior League as your Northern Ontario Hockey League up there?

  5. Irish American,

    I have only watched a few MWJHL games — and they were via FastHockey.com. Therefore, I am in no position to compare the level of play in the MWJHL to the NOJHL.



  6. Thank you for the words of sympathy, Randy. At least with the Storm I have a chance at a championship every ten years or so. I went to two games, one in which Guelph blew out Val D’Or and last night’s clunker. I was happy when the Storm scored in the first minute but had a sense that something was wrong when they had two power plays in the next couple of minutes and were not meshing. The team picked a bad time to have a poor game but that is the nature of the tournament.

    1. David,

      Now onto some baseball talk. Blue Jays winning, Tigers losing, of late.

      Maybe we’ll see you in Detroit for a game over the summer.

  7. My opinon of the MWJHL is steps below the GMHL which is steps below the NOJHL in terms of statistics. Statistics of one player who had 1 point in 12 games in the NOJHL had 32 points in 27 games in the MWJHL.

    1. Hawks96: My question to you is How many MWJHL games have you seen? Iam just being curius.

  8. I have seen players who come up to the GMHL and not progress well. So no I have not seen a game but I have seen players play in the leagues.

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