Nathan MacKinnon and the Mooseheads are 18-2 in the post-season (Getty Images)
SASKATOON, Sask. — Exactly three hundred sixty-five days ago, Nathan MacKinnon sat in the stands at the Memorial Cup semifinal, so he has can make comparisons based on firsthand experience.
The last two teams standing at the end of the contrived cashcow that is the MasterCard Memorial Cup are not always necessarily the two best in the country, but MacKinnon's Halifax Mooseheads and Seth Jones' Portland Winterhawks have pushed through.
"It was pretty cool, being there last year," MacKinnon, 17, recalled Saturday. "I think it's a little different this year, because it's the top dogs, us and Portland, we've been No. 1 and 2 all year, we've switched back and forth a few times [in the Canadian Hockey League top 10 poll]. It should be a good game."
"I know he's not worried about me and him, and I'm not worried about me and him," Jones said on Friday. "Nathan's going to do what he can to win the hockey game and if that's score a hat trick, then he's going to go out and try to score a hat trick."
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MacKinnon easily rhymed off the score from when the 17-year-old Sidney Crosby led the Rimouski Océanic into in the 2005 Memorial Cup final — "it was 4-0 for London" — shortly before going first overall to the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2010 final where future top pick Taylor Hall led Windsor past Brandon was also a cakewalk. However it plays out, having must-see draft prospects on each team with Jones, MacKinnon, his linemate Jonathan Drouin and goalie Zach Fucale has ratcheted up the anticipation.
"I'm the type of the guy, I'm not going to slash my buddy or chirp him, but I'm going to play hard against him and he's going to play hard against me," said MacKinnon, who is very close with Jones. "Both of us are on deep teams. It's not going to be a Nathan vs. Seth thing.
"Maybe it will be seem pretty special in a few years that we did have the same path. I'm sure we will look back on it fondly."
As you get the popcorn ready, here is what to expect on Sunday (7 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet/TVA Sports, BTN livechat).
Read More »from 2013 Memorial Cup: ‘It’s not Nathan vs. Seth’; Portland-Halifax, and 5 things to watch for in Sunday’s final