The 2018-19 CHL campaign began with 60 teams, while just four remain, who will compete in the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia. After a 68-game regular season and four rounds of grueling playoff action, the four participating squads have their sights set on hoisting the CHL championship trophy. Here are five need to know facts about each competing team:
Prince Albert Raiders
1 – The Raiders advanced to the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia after capturing the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time since 1985. It also marks the first time the franchise will play in the CHL championship series after winning it all 34 years ago.
2 – Leading the way for the Raiders is 20-year-old right-wing Brett Leason, who after going unselected in the past two NHL drafts has turned heads of talent evaluators after he finished the 2018-19 campaign with 89 points, a 57-point bump from the previous season.
3 – While Leason is sure to give the opposition a handful, the Raiders continue to stymie teams defensively, with netminder and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ian Scott leading the charge. The Calgary-born goaltender claimed the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL Goaltender of the Year and continued to excel in the blue paint in the postseason, posting another five shutouts to give him 13 perfect games on the year.
4 – A late season addition of centre Dante Hannoun proved to be a keen move for the Raiders, as the British Columbia native was an immediate fit with his new club as he potted a WHL-leading 14 goals in the postseason.
5 – Raiders coach Marc Habscheid, who was behind the bench for Team Orr at the 2019 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, is in search of another Memorial Cup ring after he led the Kelowna Rockets to the winner’s circle in 2004.
1 – Aptly dubbed the ‘Comeback Kids’, the Storm earned their ticket to the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia after pulling off the reverse sweep versus the London Knights before mounting a comeback of a 3-1 series deficit against the Saginaw Spirit in the following round. The Storm topped it off by bouncing the league-leading Ottawa 67’s in the J. Ross Robertson Cup Final in six games, despite dropping the first two contests.
2 – It was a whirlwind season for centre Nick Suzuki, who first saw his NHL future shift from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Montreal Canadiens, then only months later the then Owen Sound Attack captain found a new home with the Storm. Suzuki proved to be a perfect fit with his new club, illustrating that with a franchise record-setting 42-point postseason performance.
3 – Experience could prove to be the difference for the Storm, who have it in spades, including right-wing and Chicago Blackhawks prospect MacKenzie Entwistle, who is competing in his second-straight Memorial Cup tournament after he won the OHL title last season as part of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
4 – The 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia features 27 players whose rights are owned by NHL clubs, with the Storm leading the way with 11 players, with Suzuki (Canadiens), Entwistle (Blackhawks), and captain Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers) chief among them.
5 – The Storm are competing in their sixth Memorial Cup, but are still looking to win it all for the first time after coming up short in 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2014.
1 – The 2018-19 campaign was a record-setting season for the Huskies, who pieced together 25 consecutive victories to tie a CHL high-water mark. The record was originally set by the Sorel Éperviers in 1974 and then matched by the Kitchener Rangers 10 years later.
2 – While the Huskies are in search of their franchise-first Memorial Cup win, that’s not the case for new bench boss Mario Pouliot, who guided the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to the CHL championship in 2018. The native of St-Hyacinthe, Que., looks to make it two in a row this spring.
3 – Just like his coach, defenceman Noah Dobson has a chance to repeat as a Memorial Cup champion after doing so last season with the Titan. The budding blue-liner and New York Islanders draft pick joined the Huskies ahead of this year’s trade deadline and impressed in the postseason as he put up 29 points in 20 appearances and was recognized with the Guy Lafleur Trophy, presented to the MVP of the QMJHL playoffs.
4 – Peter Abbandonato enters the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia as the top scorer from the regular season. The 21-year-old centre captured the Jean Beliveau Trophy after leading the QMJHL with 111 points, counting 29 goals and 82 assists.
5 – While netminder Samuel Harvey is sure to be the Huskies’ go-to between the pipes, the team also boasts an impressive second stringer in San Jose Sharks draft-pick Zachary Emond, whose lone loss through 27 regular season appearances in 2018-19 came in a shootout.
1 – In 1994, the Mooseheads became the first junior team to set up shop in the Canadian Maritimes. The franchise hosted its first Memorial Cup six years later. This year, the Mooseheads become the first Atlantic Canadian team to twice host the CHL’s year-end celebration. Meanwhile, the Mooseheads also participated in the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon and ultimately won junior hockey’s holy grail.
2 – As the host of the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, the Mooseheads were guaranteed a spot in the year-end tournament. While the team hoped to enter it on a high note, it ultimately fell in six games in the QMJHL’s President’s Cup Final versus the first-place Huskies. The Mooseheads will have a chance to avenge that loss when the two teams meet in round robin action Wednesday.
3 – Nine players as ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau will compete in the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, with Mooseheads right-wing Raphael Lavoie, who sits 20th among North American skaters, leading the way.
4 – A collection of Mooseheads skaters, including leading scorer Samuel Asselin and captain Antoine Monard, have the chance to repeat as Memorial Cup champions after being key cogs in the Titan’s win in 2018.
5 – There’s nothing like home cooking, and the Mooseheads have it aplenty with 10 players on the roster who hail from Nova Scotia, including defenceman and Detroit Red Wings draft pick Jared McIsaac, who hails from nearby Truro, as well as fellow blue-liner Justin Barron, who plays in his hometown of Halifax.