Spirit win was no surprise

June 3, 2024

The best team won the single game showdown between two powerhouse Ontario Hockey League squads and the right to hoist the time honoured Memorial Cup. Saginaw Spirit was able to withstand a frantic comeback by the London Knights with a dramatic goal of its own as the seconds ticked away in the third period of what was an absolute thriller on the theatre.

As the host team — and in front of a partisan crowd of giddy supporters — Saginaw out played London through most of the title tilt only to watch a 3-0 lead disappear. But with the restless hands of time seemingly headed towards overtime, Saginaw took advantage of a fortuitous bounce in the waning seconds of the third period to ice a 4-3 victory over the OHL champions from London.

But don’t think for a minute that Saginaw pulled an upset in knocking off London. Both teams won 50 games during the OHL regular season with the 50-14-4 Knights edging the 50-16-2 Spirit by a mere two points in the final standings.

And yes, London upended Saginaw in a six game playoff for the Western Conference before sweeping the Oshawa Generals to win the OHL championship. But in the one game winner take all that eventually decided the Memorial Cup crown, let us not forget that as the host team, Saginaw had a huge, huge advantage over London by playing in its own home rink.

Good thing for Saginaw that it got the late goal to become Memorial Cup champs without even being OHL champs. Because if the Spirit had lost to the Knights after holding a 3-0 lead in the game while badly outshooting the visitors, no doubt the home team would have been labelled as chokers by many.

At any rate, I was just happy going into the game that, no matter who, an OHL team was going to win the 104th edition of the Memorial Cup tournament after the champions from both the Western Hockey League and Quebec Maritime Hockey League were eliminated.

In actuality, I am fan of both Saginaw and London. I like the way general manager Dave Drinkill has built the Spirit into a reputable franchise over time. I like the way brothers Dale Hunter and Mark Hunter own, coach and manage the Knights and develop more high end talent for the National Hockey League than any other OHL team.

But when it came to the championship game of the 2024 Memorial Cup tournament, there would be only one winner. And despite London almost coming all the way back to win, on June 2, 2024, it was the Saginaw Spirit that was the better team. Saginaw out-played and out-shot London by a significant margin.

In one game, where anything can happen, what happened was the best team won. Period.

The Spirit has risen!

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