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Memorial Cup coaches look ahead to tournament in Kamloops

The field is set, the teams are here, and we're just one day away from Memorial Cup action on the ice in Kamlo... The Peterborough Petes and the Quebec Remparts are preparing to take part in the Memorial Cup in Kamloops, one day away from each other's action. All four coaches from the two teams, including Seattle Thunderbirds, met with the media Wednesday night to discuss their upcoming challenges. The Remparts won five QMJHL titles over a seven-year period between 1969 and 2006, while this current iteration won it in 2006. Seattle knocked off Winnipeg in five games to win their second WHL title, having previously won in 2017. Peterborough's first Memorial Cup appearance was in 1979, when they adopted its format and the tournament was adopted back to 1972.

Memorial Cup coaches look ahead to tournament in Kamloops

Published : 2 weeks ago by Victor Kaisar in

The field is set, the teams are here, and we’re just one day away from Memorial Cup action on the ice in Kamloops.

Both the Peterborough Petes and the Quebec Remparts flew in on the same charter flight around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon while the Seattle Thunderbirds bussed in, though not before their bus broke down about a half hour out of Kamloops.

All four coaches – the Blazers Shaun Clouston, Seattle’s Matt O’Dette, Peterborough’s Rob Wilson, and Quebec’s Patrick Roy – met with the media Wednesday night.

The Blazers play the Remparts to open the tournament Friday night.

“We look forward to that challenge,” Roy said Wednesday.” They’re the host team, their fans are going to be right behind them and we’re going to have to be ready for the storm at the start of the game.”

“I watched some of their games against Seattle. I thought they played really well. There should have been, could have been, a game 7. [It was a] lucky bounce for them for Seattle.”

The Remparts, who knocked off the Halifax Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL Championship Series. It was the team’s first championship since the club reformed in 1997.

The original Remparts, who were around from 1969 to 1985, won five QMJHL titles over a seven-year period between 1969. They also won the Memorial Cup in 1971, while this current iteration of the team won it in 2006, with Roy behind the bench.

They’re a deep offensive team with strong goaltending, led by the forwards Justin Robidas, Theo Rochette, Zachary Bolduc and playoff MVP James Malatesta, defenceman Nicholas Savoie, and goaltender William Rousseau who went 16-2 in the playoffs.

“It’s a privilege to be here representing our league and we know that [Kamloops] did to build a sold team,” Roy said. “They did a good job.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds, who steamrolled their way through the WHL playoffs losing just three games – two to the Blazers and one to the Winnipeg ICE – will be looking to win their first Memorial Cup in franchise history. They finished second in the WHL regular season with 109 points, two behind Winnipeg who had 111 points.

Seattle knocked off Winnipeg in five games to win their second WHL title, having previously won in 2017.

“Our team has been lucky enough to be here in 2017. We learned a lot from that experience,” O’Dette said. “It was a quick turnaround and we didn’t quite have our feet under us going to Windsor. It’s a bit different this time around as we’re just coming up the road, which will be of help.”

“We’ll use our experience from that time in 2017 to be better this time around.”

The Thunderbirds are led by first NHL first-round picks. Those include Dylan Guenther (ninth overall, Arizona, 2021), Nolan Allan (32nd overall, Chicago, 2021), Kevin Korchinski (seventh overall, Chicago, 2022), Brad Lambert (30th overall, Winnipeg, 2022) and Reid Schaefer (32nd overall, Edmonton, 2022).

Other players to watch for include forwards Jared Davidson and captain Lucas Ciona, defenceman Jeremy Hanzel, and WHL Goaltender of the Year, Thomas Milic, who also backstopped Team Canada to the 2023 World Junior title.

“I think this year, the WHL teams have done a good job building rosters and being more complete teams to be able to compete against the high end Ontario and Quebec league teams. We’ve got two good entrants this year and we’ll hope to have a better showing.”

The Peterborough Petes, who finished fourth in the 10-team Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference, had the toughest road to Kamloops.

They swept Sudbury in the first round before upsetting the regular season leading Ottawa 67s in six games in round two. Peterborough then came from being down three games to two to beat the North Bay Battalion in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Petes then knocked off the London Knights in six games in the OHL Championship Series – their tenth title – to make their CHL-leading ninth Memorial Cup appearance. The Petes have one Memorial Cup title in 1979, having lost in five tournament finals dating back to 1972, when the tournament adopted its round-robin format.

“We’re all looking at video, making phone calls, trying to get as much information as you can about the teams you’re playing,” Wilson said.

“They’re all very very good teams and its all about your staff working hard trying to get as much info as you can and deciding what’s really important and taking that into your group without disrupting maybe how you play and all the rest of it, trying to make little adjustments here and there.”

Led by two time World Junior gold medallist, Brennan Othmann, the Petes also boast the likes of Tucker Robertson, Connor Lockhart, and Avery Hayes up front. Donovan McCory and Samuel Mayer lead from the back with goaltender Michael Simpson between the crease.

Asked about the challenge ahead, Clouston says he knows there is a lot on pressure on the home team.

“We’re getting ready to face three championship calibre teams,” Clouston said. “We’ve got a heavy task ahead of us.”

“We’re going to try to find some balance. I think we want to make sure that we take somethings in as a group, as a team, try to really enjoy the overall experience while making sure we’re ready to go and bringing our best each night.”

All four teams hit the ice for their first practice today, ahead of the Arrival of the Cup ceremony at the Tk’emlúps Powwow Arbour Grounds.

JUNO award winners, the Glorious Sons will then take the stage at the Molson Canadian Hockey House – an entertainment zone that will set up outside Sandman Centre for the duration of the tournament – at 7:30 p.m. this evening for the kick-off concert.

You can find a schedule of events here.

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