Calgary, AB -- The 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament begins in less than two weeks in Shawinigan, QC. The host Shawinigan Cataractes will be joined by the Champions of the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in competition for the right to hoist the storied Memorial Cup trophy as Champions of the Canadian Hockey League.
Much is left to be decided as to who will lay claim to the three remaining berths at the tournament, with the WHL, OHL and QMJHL currently playing their respective Championship series’.
Here’s a look at the three CHL League Championship series’, and the battle for the three Memorial Cup berths:
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks are currently battling it out in the 2012 WHL Championship series for the right to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earn the WHL berth in the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The Oil Kings edged the Winterhawks in overtime in Game 4 of the series on Tuesday night in Portland, OR, to square up the best-of-seven set at two games apiece. Oil Kings’ veteran Rhett Rachinski scored twice, including the overtime winner, in Tuesday’s Game 4 win.
Game 5 is set for Thursday night in Edmonton, with Game 6 going Saturday in Portland. If necessary, a seventh and deciding game will be played in Edmonton on Sunday.
The Oil Kings are making their first appearance in the WHL Championship series in modern franchise history. The Winterhawks are in the WHL Championship series for a second straight year, having lost to Kootenay last season.
WHL Championship Series
EDMONTON vs. PORTLAND
Best-of-seven series tied 2 - 2 (Home Team in CAPS)
Game 1 - EDMONTON 3, Portland 2
Game 2 - Portland 5, EDMONTON 1
Game 3 - PORTLAND 4, EDMONTON 3
Game 4 - Edmonton 4, PORTLAND 3 O/T
Game 5 - Portland at Edmonton; Thursday, May 10, 7:00pm MST
Game 6 – Edmonton at Portland; Saturday, May 12, 6:00pm PST
Game 7 – Portland at Edmonton; Sunday, May 13, 6:00pm MST*
* If Necessary
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
The London Knights and the Niagara IceDogs are currently in the midst of a heated Ontario Hockey League Championship series for the J. Ross Robertson Cup and the OHL berth in the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament.
The Knights downed the IceDogs 4-1 in St. Catharines on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and now sit one victory away from the OHL title. Matt and Ryan Rupert each netted a goal and an assist in the Game 4 victory.
The Knights will host the IceDogs for Game 5 of the series on Friday night in London, ON.
The Knights last appeared in the OHL final in 2005-06 when they lost to the Peterborough Petes. London won the OHL Championship and the MasterCard Memorial Cup in 2005 in London. The IceDogs are making their first appearance in the PHL Championship series since moving to St. Catharines.
OHL Championship Series
LONDON vs. NIAGARA
London leads best-of-seven series 3 - 1
Game 1 – Niagara 3, LONDON 2 2O/T
Game 2 – London 5, NIAGARA 3
Game 3 – LONDON 3, Niagara 2
Game 4 – London 4, NIAGARA 1
Game 5 – Niagara at London; Friday, May 11
Game 6 – London at Niagara; Sunday, May 13 *
Game 7 – Niagara @ London; Monday, May 14 *
QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Saint John Sea Dogs and the Rimouski Oceanic are currently engaged in a spirited best-of-seven series for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Championship and the QMJHL Champion berth in the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Sparked by Jonathan Huberdeau’s return to the lineup, the Sea Dogs skated to a 6-4 win over the Oceanic in Rimouski in Game 3 of the series on Wednesday night, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven set. The Oceanic host the Sea Dogs for crucial Game 4 on Thursday night in Rimouski.
The Sea Dogs are the defending QMJHL and Memorial Cup Champions, and will be looking to defend both titles this year. The Sea Dogs have lost just once in post-season, and have outscored their opposition 95-39 in 16 games.
The Oceanic last played in the QMJHL Championship series in 2005, when Sidney Crosby led them to the Championship and a berth in the 2005 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The Oceanic also hosted the 2009 MasterCard Memorial Cup, which was won by the Windsor Spitfires.
QMJHL Championship Series
SAINT JOHN vs. RIMOUSKI
Saint John leads best-of-seven series 3 - 0
Game 1 – SAINT JOHN 3, Rimouski 2 2O/T
Game 2 – SAINT JOHN 3, Rimouski 2
Game 3 – Saint John 6, RIMOUSKI 4
Game 4 – Saint John at Rimouski; Thursday, May 10
Game 5 – Saint John at Rimouski; Saturday, May 12 *
Game 6 – Rimouski at Saint John; Monday, May 14 *
Game 7 – Rimouski at Saint John; Wednesday, May 16 *