It's the best time of year!
Posted by Erika Schnure Labels: 2011 Memorial Cup
The two teams involved in Friday night’s Memorial Cup semifinal both had tough starts to the tournament. The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors lost 4-3 in a hard-fought battle against the St. John Sea Dogs last Friday. The Kootenay Ice were hammered by the Owen Sound Attack in their first game, with a final score of 5-0.
The Majors and the Ice made recoveries to make it to the semifinal game. Only one would make it to the final to face the St. John Sea Dogs for the Memorial Cup. Since Kootenay played the previous evening, Mississauga executed a strategy to tire out the Ice. The Majors played very physical early, throwing hard hits to exhaust the Ice players, and then turned on the jets to outskate and outwork them.
Their plan worked, and Mississauga won 3-1 to advance to the Memorial Cup final and send Kootenay home.
Devante Smith-Pelly was the star of the game, scoring two goals in the win. One goal came during the first Majors powerplay of the game just over a minute into the first period. He added his second tally, the game-winner, in the second period.
But when playing against Kootenay, a 2-0 lead has been the more dangerous lead for their opponents. Twice during the tournament, Kootenay has come back from 2-0 deficits to win the game. Joe Antilla got Kootenay on the board in the last second of the second period, but they couldn’t muster a comeback as they had before. Mississauga added an empty net goal by Chris DeSousa to book their spot in Sunday’s final.
The Memorial Cup final is a major opportunity for Mississauga. They had come into this tournament hoping to be both the host and OHL champions. The Owen Sound Attack didn’t let that happen, and Mississauga came into the tournament with the mission to prove that they are a team that can win.
With their berth to the final, Mississauga is one step closer to something even greater than their initial dream of being host and OHL champions. They can be host and Memorial Cup champions.
It won’t be an easy battle. St. John came into the tournament as favorites, with a team stacked with young, draft-eligible talent and a regular season record of 58-7-1-2. The Sea Dogs are also well rested, not having played for several days. A more veteran Majors team will have their work cut out for them Sunday night.
Photo credit: QMI Agency
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