Windsor captures 2nd straight Memorial Cup
The Windsor Spitfires used a big second period against the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday to romp to a 9-1 win and their second consecutive Memorial Cup championship.
Adam Henrique scored twice and had an assist, and top NHL prospect Taylor Hall finished with a goal and two assists. Cam Fowler, Greg Nemisz, Eric Wellwood and Zack Kassian all had a goal and an assist, with Marc Cantin also scoring for Bob Boughner's squad.
Hall was named tournament most valuable player for the second year in a row.
"It's just such an incredible feeling," Hall said. "I'll have this feeling for a long time. For those last 10 minutes, I just kind of reminisced about my whole junior career."
The Spitfires led 2-0 after one period at Keystone Centre and put the game out of reach when they scored four goals on a whopping 27 shots in the second on beleaguered Brandon goalie Jacob De Serres.
Windsor is the eighth team to repeat as national junior hockey champions and the first in 15 years. The Spitfires rolled to the most one-sided final win since 1973 when the Toronto Marlboros won by the same score. Windsor outscored the competition 28-9 in winning four straight tournament games.
It was a magical season for the Spitfires, who finished with 12 consecutive wins after facing elimination from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs in mid-April. Windsor trailed the Kitchener Rangers 3-0 in their series before embarking on the comeback.
Sunday's result also will cap the junior careers of several players, led by Hall, who is expected to be selected first or second in the NHL entry draft next month. Many of the Spitfires played during their tenure with Mickey Renaud, the Windsor captain who died suddenly of a rare heart condition in 2008.
The Wheat Kings were trying to become the seventh host in the last 16 years to win the championship. Instead, Brandon as a franchise is now 0-5 in the title game.
"It's going to make us better," said Brandon's Brayden Schenn, who will attend the Los Angeles Kings' training camp in a few months. "It will leave a bitter taste in our mouths — you don't like the feeling of losing — but I think it will make us better in the long run."
Brandon got the jump on a nervous-looking Windsor team in the first five minutes, but soon after being unable to score on two great chances, the Spitfires began scoring in regular intervals en route to the championship.
Windsor goalie Philipp Grubauer did his part with a strong save on Schenn early in the first and got a bit of luck when Travis Hamonic hit the post later in the sequence.
Hamonic also sent Hall sprawling on a borderline hit that saw the players' legs get tangled up. Hall had been bloodied after being checked into the boards early in Windsor's 9-3 win over Brandon on May 14.
Henrique opened the scoring for Windsor, as he did last year in the team's championship victory over the Kelowna Rockets. He picked up a loose puck at the right side of the crease and fired a wrister that squirted through the pads of De Serres at 6:34.
Brandon was never on even terms after that point.
"We all came here for one goal, and that was to win the Memorial Cup," Kassian said. "A couple of times, we got tested, but that shows the character of our team. We didn't stop. I think it made us better throughout the tournament."
De Serres kept it a one-goal game by stretching for a save on Scott Timmins, who would finish with two assists in the game. The Spitfires kept coming over the last five minutes of the first, and a three-way passing play was completed with Wellwood getting De Serres moving the wrong way with a short-side goal with 33 seconds left.
Hall got his goal from the right faceoff circle on the power play at 4:34 of the second, firing a high wrister past a screened De Serrres.
The Wheat Kings would soon get a power play and make the most of it. Scott Glennie was stopped, but Matt Calvert potted the second chance at 8:16.
The elation was short-lived for the partisan crowd. Nemisz was credited with a goal just 40 seconds later after banging in a rebound near the post. The goal wasn't called on the ice but was given the green light after the on-ice officials called upon video review to take another look.
Cantin then fired a bullet wristshot that the Brandon netminder had no chance on at 11:36 and Fowler followed just over four minutes later with a point shot that found its way in.
The goal by Fowler — who is being pegged by many hockey observers to go in the Top 5 in the NHL draft along with Hall — featured the third assist of the game for Matt Ellis.
Kenny Ryan and Justin Shugg would each end up with two assists after helping set up the superfluous goals in the third.
The capacity crowd of 5,609 began to disperse early in the final period.
While one city's hockey fans are disappointed, another sees its junior team win its second Canadian championship in three tries. The modern Spitfires went 34 years since entering the OHL before winning it all, having lost in the Memorial Cup title game in 1988.
"We couldn't be happier to bring another championship home," Boughner said. "The support we've gotten over the last four years is just amazing. I can't wait to celebrate with everybody in Windsor."
With files from The Canadian Press