A capsule look at the 2023 Memorial Cup
A capsule look at the four teams competing in the Memorial Cup in Kamloops, B.C.
Teams are listed by conference, along with their respective regular season records. The tournament runs from Friday to June 4.
WHL, Seattle Thunderbirds (54-11-1-2)
The Thunderbirds made the tournament for just the third time in franchise history after winning their second-ever Western Hockey League title on May 19. Seattle swiftly put away Eastern Conference power Winnipeg Ice in five games.
Led by Canadian world junior championship stars Dylan Guenther and Thomas Milic — two of their 10 NHL prospects — the Thunderbirds look to win their first-ever Memorial Cup title. Guenther, who scored the game-winning goal in the gold-medal game for Canada at the world juniors, leads the CHL with 16 playoff goals. Milic led the WHL in wins (16), save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (1.95) in 19 playoff games.
WHL, Kamloops Blazers (48-13-4-3)
It's been a long time since the host Blazers lifted the Memorial Cup — 1995 to be exact, which spelled the end of a run of three titles in four years (1992, 1994, 1995).
Kamloops presented Seattle its toughest challenge, pushing the Thunderbirds to six games in the Western Conference championship. And they have the most recovery time entering the tournament, having last played May 8.
The Blazers, led by WHL post-season scoring leaders Logan Stankoven (30 points) and Olen Zellweger (29 points), will open the tournament against Quebec on Friday.
QMJHL, Quebec Remparts (53-12-1-2)
The Remparts showed no signs of slowing down from their regular-season dominance in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. Quebec, which had the best regular-season record in the QMJHL, went 16-2 en route to the Gilles Courteau Trophy, with the two defeats coming at the hands of the Halifax Mooseheads in the championship series.
It was the Remparts' first QMJHL title in 47 years, giving them their first entry into the Memorial Cup since 2015. Quebec comes into Kamloops aiming for its third Memorial Cup title and first since 2006.
OHL, Peterborough Petes (35-29-2-2)
The Petes have arguably had the least likely run to the Memorial Cup of the four teams. Peterborough entered the Ontario Hockey League playoffs with the ninth-best record in the regular season.
After sweeping the Sudbury Wolves, the Petes upset the OHL-best Ottawa 67's in six games. Peterborough followed that with a seven-game elimination of the North Bay Battalion before taking out the London Knights in six to claim its first J. Ross Robertson Cup in 17 years.
The victory gave the Petes their 10th OHL title in franchise history, putting them second all-time behind the Oshawa Generals (13). Peterborough will be making its 10th appearance at the Memorial Cup, with its lone title in the tournament coming in 1979.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.
Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press