It’s win or go home on Tuesday at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup.
The WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds and QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs enter play with 0-2 records tonight, marking the first time since 2000 that two teams have gone winless in their first two games.
Saint John has only lost back-to-back games twice this season, with the last occurrence happening December 31st and January 4th. Seattle lost three straight games once during a stretch from December 10th to 16th.
Tonight’s scenario is pretty simple; the winner secures a spot in Friday’s Semi-Final and the loser goes home winless.
“We’ve got a real good opportunity ahead of us so there shouldn’t be anybody too down right now,” said Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk. “Both teams have hit adversity, but you have to respond from that and focus on one game here tonight.”
Seattle enters action rested after a day off following a forgettable 7-1 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Sunday.
Despite surrendering three goals on six shots in that loss, 17-year-old Carl Stankowski will get the start in goal for the T-Birds.
“A big part of it is what Carl has done for us,” said Konowalchuk. “He’s played well for us in big games. He wants this opportunity and I have a lot of confidence putting him in there.”
Stankowski and the Thunderbirds face a Saint John Sea Dogs club that also had a goaltending change in a record breaking 12-5 loss to the Erie Otters on Monday.
“You can’t give up in life in general,” said Sea Dogs forward Mathieu Joseph as he reflected on Monday’s lopsided result. “That’s what hockey brings to us, it changes us as people and it helps in real life stuff. When you face adversity and fail in life, you have to bounce back and we have to bring that on the ice tonight.”
“We could have lost 2-1 last night or 12-5 and the result would be the same for us right now. It’s a wake up call and the boys need to bounce back.”
With Seattle outscored 11-3 and Saint John outdone 15-7, tonight marks a fresh start for both clubs as they’re presented with a golden opportunity to scramble back from 0-2 starts to compete for a Mastercard Memorial Cup title, much like the Windsor Spitfires did to win it all in Rimouski in 2009.
Puckdrop is set for 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT tonight, a game that can be seen live on Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NHL Network and CHL Live.