OHL’s best at Memorial Cup

May 16, 2024

It is fitting that the top two teams in the Ontario Hockey League during the 2023-2024 regular season will both compete for this year’s Memorial Cup championship.

London Knights and Saginaw Spirit. Both teams won 50 games during the regular season with the Knights edging the Spirit 104 points to 102 for first place overall in the standings. They then met in the Western Conference playoff finals with London upending Saginaw four games to two.

London then lambasted the Oshawa Generals in four straight games in the OHL finals to pound its way into the Memorial Cup championship tournament. Saginaw, on the other hand, is in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host entry. But after a 102 point regular season, the Spirit has nothing to apologize for by getting a free pass into the Mem Cup as the hosts.

Really, in a four team tournament where opponents face off against each other once during the round robin before a single semi-final match and one game to decide the champion, Saginaw has the advantage over London and the champs from the Quebec Maritime Jr. Hockey League and the Western Hockey League in that the Spirit will play each and every one of its games on the home ice of the Dow Event Center.

As for the triumphant Knights of London, they are a team designed by general manager Mark Hunter and head coach Dale Hunter to combine physicality with skill and speed. Not only did the Knights finish in first place en route to winning the league championship, they racked up the most penalty minutes, led the OHL in suspensions — and made numerous enemies along the way.

“You have to play heavy,” Mark Hunter told the London Free Press. “We have a heavy team. Last year, we needed a little more heaviness. You still need the speed, skill and will and there’s a lot of that here.”

The 2024 Memorial Cup championship tournament gets underway on Friday, May 24 in Saginaw. London and the hosts from Saginaw will compete against the QMJHL champion Drummondville Voltigeurs and the WHL champion Moose Jaw Warriors in pursuit of the 104th Memorial Cup crown.

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