photo by Fred Greenslade/Reuters
Well, I was going to do a gamer on the CHL Memorial Cup final, but it turns out there isn't too much to write about. The Spits channeled Game 1 again, and destroyed the Brandon Wheat Kings 9-1. It started off innocently enough, with a scoreless game for the first 6 minutes of the first period. Wheat Kings goalie De Serres and Spitfires goalie Grubauer were both making sparkling saves. De Serres earned himself a spot on a highlight reel with a dazzling kick-out save on a streaking Eric Wellwood in the first period.
And then Adam Henrique struck. And the Spits didn't stop until the final buzzer sounded. De Serres was excellent all night, but could only do so much without his team supporting him. The Wheat Kings gave the Spits too many chances, and that was definitely reflected in the final score, as well as the shot count (Windsor fired 52 shots on net to Brandon's 28). Henrique scored twice, with Wellwood, Hall, Nemisz, Cantin, Fowler, Kassian, and Mitchell adding markers for Windsor. The lone Wheat Kings goal was scored by Wheaties star Matt Calvert.
Despite the anticlimactic ending to the tournament, the Spitfires were ecstatic after the win, earning their place in history as being one of just eight CHL teams ever to win back-to-back championships. Taylor Hall became the first player ever to be named tournament MVP in consecutive years. The Spitfires organization raved about Hall post-game, expressing why they thought the young star should go #1 in this summer's NHL draft. Spits General Manager Warren Rychel said,
"He's as good as gone, he's sick... Sometimes NHL Central try to create a story of who's rivaling who, but obviously there's no comparison (between Hall and No. 1 ranked Tyler Seguin). I thought he was the best player in the Canadian Hockey League."
The next season will be a tough one for the Spitfires - many of their best players are either expected to be drafted and play directly into the NHL (like Hall) or will be over the age limit for CHL players. The overagers are Scott Timmins (FLA), Dale Mitchell (TOR), Harry Young (NJD), Greg Nemisz (CGY), Adam Henrique (NJD), Mark Cundari (STL) and Eric Wellwood (PHI). This is the last you've seen of this particular lineup, but coach Bob Boughner is confident that it won't be the last you've seen of the Windsor Spitfires, despite the pressure:
"I know one thing: it's going to be tough to match what we've done here in the last two years."
1. Adam Henrique (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Scott Timmins (2 assists, +3)
3. Matt Calvert (1 goal)
photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
Again, I agree with the actual first star. Adam Henrique was amazing - creating chances, handling the puck with ease, and definitely being the most effective player on the ice. It certainly doesn't hurt when Taylor Hall is your linemate, but I think that Henrique is definitely a star in his own right. I hope to see him in the NHL next year with the team that drafted him, the New Jersey Devils.
Video highlights are worth a look.