Guelph seek Memorial Cup title
Storm will play either Edmonton or Val-d'Or in Sunday's championship
|Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha has drawn plenty of attention during the Memorial Cup. He and his Val-d'Or Foreurs need a win Friday night to earn a spot in Sunday's championship game. (Photo by Getty Images)|
The Guelph Storm were the best team in the Ontario Hockey League this season. They're looking to expand that title to the Canadian Hockey League.
Guelph beat the host London Knights 7-2 on Wednesday to finish round-robin play at the 2014 Memorial Cup unbeaten, and in three games outscored its opposition 18-7.
The Storm advanced to the championship game Sunday (4 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, Sportsnet), where they will face the winner of the semifinal game Friday between the Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings and the Val-d'Or Foreurs, winners of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (7 p.m. EST; NHLN-US, Sportsnet).
Leading the way for the Storm is Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk, who had a hat trick against London and leads all players at the tournament with six points.
Guelph has the top eight scorers in the tournament, including Tyler Bertuzzi, a 2013 second-round pick (No. 58) of the Red Wings who leads all players with five goals. Kerby Rychel (Columbus Blue Jackets), Jason Dickinson (Dallas Stars) and Brock McGinn (Carolina Hurricanes) have five points each.
Robert Fabbri, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL draft, has one goal and three assists in four games. He's No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft.
In goal, Justin Nichols has three wins, a 2.33 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, all tournament bests. He's stopped 112 of the 119 shots he's faced.
In round-robin play, Guelph beat Edmonton 5-2 on Saturday and defeated Val-d'Or 6-3 on Monday.
This marks the first time Guelph has played for the Memorial Cup title since losing to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL in 1998.
Guelph assistant general manager Chris Hajt was the captain of that 1998 Guelph team and told Sportsnet.ca the current version has the chance to complete the final step that his team, which featured future NHL players Manny Malhotra and Brian Willsie, couldn't.
"The perseverance of this team, the completeness of the team from the goaltending out," Hajt said, "it's definitely the best team [in Storm history]."
Before Guelph finishes its run at history, it has to wait for an opponent in the title game.
Edmonton has been led offensively by 2014 draft prospect Edgars Kulda and 2012 Phoenix Coyotes first-round pick (No. 27) Henrik Samuelsson, who each have two goals and an assist. Kulda, 19, who went undrafted last year, is No. 145 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft.
Curtis Lazar, selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 17th pick of the 2013 draft, has one goal and two assists.
Val-d'Or's best player has been goaltender Antoine Bibeau, a 2013 sixth-round pick (No. 173) of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He opened the tournament with a 51-save shutout of London and then stopped 47 of 50 shots in a 4-3 double-overtime defeat of Edmonton in round-robin play. He has a 2.98 GAA and .934 save percentage in three games.
Red Wings 2013 first-round pick (No. 20) Anthony Mantha has one goal and two assists in three games. He had 57 goals in 57 regular-season games and 24 goals in 24 QMJHL playoff games.