The Acadie-Bathurst Titan stayed perfect, improving to 2-0 after an 8-6 victory over the host Regina Pats that included a wild six-goal third period between the two clubs. Here’s a look at five takeaways from Sunday’s high-scoring affair.
1. The eight goals scored by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan were certainly impressive, but they ended up one goal short of equalling a record in head-to-head play between the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League. The most goals scored in a single game by a QMJHL team against a WHL team at the Mastercard Memorial Cup was 22 years ago in the semi-final of the 1986 tournament when the Hull Olympiques beat the Kamloops Blazers by a 9-3 final. Conversely, the most goals scored by a WHL team against a QMJHL opponent came during the 1976 Mastercard Memorial Cup when the New Westminster Bruins downed the Quebec Remparts by a 10-3 score.
In both cases though, it was an OHL squad — Hamilton in 1976 and Guelph in 1986 — that ended up lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament, so the offensive outputs may not prove too beneficial for either of the two leagues involved in the blowouts.
2. There’s nothing quite like starting 2-0 at the Mastercard Memorial Cup to improve your odds of hoisting the trophy come the second Sunday of the tournament. Since 2001, the feat has occurred 16 times, with that team winning 12 times. The four teams who were unable to accomplish — the 2017 Erie Otters, 2014 Guelph Storm, 2009 Kelowna Rockets, and 2006 Moncton Wildcats — still ended up making the championship final though.
Of those four teams to start 2-0 and lose, Moncton and Erie had to make their way to the championship final via a semi-final victory. The other two teams ended up topping the group and advancing directly to the championship final.
A win by the Titan Tuesday against the Hamilton Bulldogs would secure a perfect 3-0 record, giving them a chance at becoming the fourth straight team to go perfect in the round robin and capture the title, following in the footsteps of the 2015 Oshawa Generals, 2016 London Knights and 2017 Windsor Spitfires.
3. Scouts and fans alike were treated to a four-point performance from Titan defenceman and highly-touted 2018 NHL Draft prospect Noah Dobson, who collected a pair of goals and a pair of assists in the contest. Erie Otters defenceman Darren Raddysh was the last blueliner to post a four-point performance at the Mastercard Memorial Cup, doing so at last year’s tournament in Windsor, Ont.
Speaking of Dobson and the celebration of one century to another in Mastercard Memorial Cup history, his first period goal in Sunday’s game was the first at the tournament by a defenceman born on or after January 1, 2000. The first goal by a forward born in a similar circumstance came in 2017 from another QMJHL player. Saint John Sea Dogs forward Joe Veleno earned those honours.
We’ll keep a steady eye out for the first 2000-born or later goaltender to score at the tournament.
4. The Regina Pats took the loss despite scoring six goals, featuring a four-point effort from captain and Anaheim Ducks prospect Sam Steel.
That performance equalled Portland Winterhawks forwards Nicolas Petan and Ty Rattie for the most points in a tournament loss. Both players posted four points — a goal and three assists — in the championship final of the 2013 Mastercard Memorial Cup, a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Halifax Mooseheads.
5. Goalies may want to look away for this last part. Through the first three games of the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup, there have been 26 goals combined, working out to an average of 8.67 goals per game.
That’s still a full two goals fewer than the overall average in 1983, the year the record was set for the most goals in a single tournament with 86, an average of 10.75 goals per game. The winning team that year, the 1983 Portland Winterhawks, featured talent like Ray Ferraro, Cam Neely, Jim Playfair, John Kordic, Ken Yaremchuk, Randy Heath and Alfie Turcotte among an offensively-talented roster.
For all the offensive power on display at each edition of the tournament, the three-game total from this year is the highest since 1990 in Hamilton, when 34 goals were scored in a similar amount of games.