Wins Destroys Memorial Cup
The 2008 Mastercard Memorial Cup is in the books and apparently the Spokane Chief's don't want there to be one in 2009. In quite possibly the funniest moment I've ever witnessed in a hockey arena (save for Greener mummifying his groin region with six rolls of tape each week), Spokane Captain Chris Bruton, hoisted the Cup...
Where's the P.A. system with "We Are The Champions" when you need it? The look of embarrassment and horror on Bruton's face doesn't need any words, but just in case, here's four: Ice. Swallow. Me. Whole.
As for the game, the Chief's scored a convincing 4-1 win over the hosts and OHL Champion, Kitchener Rangers. But the real story was once again Dustin Tokarski - that's "Toka" to his friends. The kid has been nails since the start of the playoffs, and earned every bit of his Memorial Cup MVP award with a 53 save performance today. He was awesome in the third period when the Rangers threw everything they could at him. You have to think his draft stock is only going to continue to rise in the coming weeks.
In my my last post on Tokarski, I wondered how so many goalies could be rated ahead of him. So, I wanted to post some scouting comments from Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report, whose opinion I really respect:
"As for Tokarski, Red Line has been skeptical all season, but the numbers he's putting up and the mental toughness he has shown are getting hard to ignore. He still reminds us a bit too much of other average WHL goaltenders with terrific defensive teams in front of them (think Kelly Guard on Kelowna's 2003-04 club or Brent Belecki on Portland's 1997-98 team). There are other goaltenders we like better in the middle rounds, but we acknowledge that Tokarski will certainly go much higher than we have him ranked."I tend to disagree, somewhat. I know the Chief's are a good defensive team, but the saves Tokarski made throughout this tournament were not of the sharp-angle, "we'll take what you give us" variety. He made more than his share of 5 bellers, and his positioning is so solid, that he's always there to make the 2nd save when needed. I guess time will tell.
It was the 2nd Memorial Cup win for Spokane, who went 4-0 in the tournament and beat Kitchener twice in their barn. Well deserved. They got great leadership from Bruton and David Rutherford (blocking shots all over the place), big goals from Drayson Bowman (tournament leading 6 goals) and how about Jared Cowen? If this kid keeps improving like he should, John Tavares and Victor Hedman better look over their shoulders. He already looks like a lock to go top 5 in the 2009 draft, possibly higher. He has "Franchise Defenceman" written all over him.
Besides the obvious guys for Kitchener (Boedker, Halischuk, Azevedo), the kid that really impressed was Nazem Kadri. Lot's of skill and poise with the puck. He's another for the 2009 draft and it should be interesting to watch him progress next year. Have to think he's got first round talent as well.