Sunday, May 18, 2008

You are Not Watching the Memorial Cup?

Really after 2 games of the 2008 Memorial Cup and if you are not watching then all you are doing is punishing yourself by missing some very exciting hockey. Game 2 of the 2008 Memorial Cup was in many ways just as exciting as the opening game on Friday night.

Game 2 featured the WHL Champions the Spokane Chiefs taking on the runner ups of the OHL the Belleville Bulls and just like the opener this game also went to overtime, this one also have a comeback but the difference in our eyes was despite 9 goals being scored was some outstanding goaltending.

For Ranger fans there was a Ranger theme for the evening starting with former Ranger Steven Rice (1989 1st Round) dropping the ceremonial opening faceoff. Rice was a star with the host Kitchener Rangers which is the actual reason why Rice was selected.

But that was just the beginning of New York Ranger related themes as the Belleville Bulls have on their roster the grandson and namesake of an all-time Ranger great in Andy Bathgate. Younger Bathgate was a healthy scratch but seeing the name Bathgate out on the ice once again is a thrill.

Talking about following in someone's footsteps, the Younger Bathgate is about the same size (6'1 175) as his Hall of Fame Grandfather (6' 175) and just like his grandfather, young Bathgate plays center. The only difference now is that the younger Bathgate is a left handed shot.

Andy was a late season call up for the Bulls and the barely 17 year old is still just getting his feet wet. We expect to be talking more about him next season.

Nigel Dawes was also at the game attending with a friend Jeff Glass to cheer on Glass's brother on the Spokane Chiefs. Dawes was interviewed about his presence at the game but also about his season (typical Dawes not comfortable talking about himself) and his future with the Rangers.

The Game itself had a Ranger feel to it as the Spokane Chiefs broke out to a 3-0 first period lead just to give it all back in the second period just like the Rangers did too many times. For the Chiefs the star was Carolina draft pick Drayson Bowman who had 2 goals and an assist in the first period.

In the second period the role of the Spokane Chief's defense were clones of the Ranger blueline. It was as if a Ranger game broke out as Chief defensive breakdowns allowed 3 different Bulls to score 2nd period goals to tie the game.

Add a 4th unanswered goal by the Bulls to take a 4-3 lead and just like the Rangers the Chiefs came back to tie the game at 4-4 as the Ranger defense decided to switch sides. For the Chiefs it was a good thing that it did.

As Ranger fans witnessed too many times, a shot was taken, a rebound left out there and a player who was unguarded swooped in and hung out an defenseless goalie to dry. In this case it was Drayson Bowman who finished off a hat trick, a 4 point night and earning the game's first star for his efforts by forcing the game into overtime.

In the overtime it was the Chiefs who were able to cash in on their chances as they scored a repeat of the tying goal to earn a hard fought 5-4 win to join the host Kitchener Rangers with 1-0 records.

Despite the score this game actually was a solid performance by both goalies as Belleville's Mike Murphy and Spokane's Dustin Torkaski made some great saves when their teams badly needed them to keep their respective teams in this game. How Murphy (OHL Goalie of the Year) is undrafted and Torkaski is ranked as the 9th best North American Goalie by CSB amazes us.

This was a game of streaks 3 goals by the Chiefs, 4 goals by the Bulls then 2 more goals by the Chiefs. Now that all 4 teams have one game under their belts the confusion is about to begin.

On Sunday, the Chiefs have to turn right around and face the host Kitchener Rangers, the winner of that game will basically move into the drivers seat with a 2-0 record. Win this game and you move that much closer to the coveted first seed in the finals where you get to rest.

If you are Spokane to win on Sunday would mean that they would only have Gatineau standing between them and the finals. Lose and then they have to hope that Belleville defeats Gatineau on Monday or Kitchener on Wednesday to remain avoid having to play a wild card game.

Kitchener on the other hand has to worry about losing a major advantage since they had a day of rest before facing Spokane, if they win then a rematch of the OHL finals will be all that stands between them and a berth in the finals.

Of course this is the easy stuff, just wait until we try to explain the importance of Monday's game between Belleville and Gatineau.

For those keeping score our prediction record is 1-1 after 2 games.

No comments: