Memorial Cup a success

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

BRANDON — Many of the games lacked drama, but the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup is sure to go down as a success on many levels.

As someone who took in nine of the 10 days, I was thoroughly impressed by the job of the local organizing committee and happy to see a great atmosphere in and around Westman Place.

Even casual hockey fans had to be impressed by the talent level of both individuals and teams.

The most impressive showing — from the drop of the puck on May 14 to the final buzzer on May 23 — came from the Windsor Spitfires, who successfully defended the Memorial Cup with a 9-1 beat-down over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday.

The Wheat Kings deserve credit for making the final and provided what could go down as the greatest victory in franchise history (to this point) with Friday’s 5-4 overtime triumph over the Calgary Hitmen.

But the reality is that they were over-matched in the final by the Spitfires.

Terms like greatest of all time get thrown out far too often in today’s sporting world, but the Spitfires probably could make an easy case as one of the top major junior teams ever after their dominant performance saw them outscore opponents 28-9 while posting a perfect 4-0 record.

It won’t be surprising to see more than 10 players on the Spitfires’ roster move on to successful pro hockey careers and we also expect that before long, the NHL will come calling for head coach Bob Boughner and GM Warren Rychel.

Here are some other impressions from my first Memorial Cup:

— Taylor Hall is a stud. We understand Plymouth Whalers centre Tyler Seguin is a great player and will probably be an exceptional pro. The way he handled himself during Friday’s press conference showed plenty of polish and his ability to make himself a better player after getting cut from Canada’s world junior team in December is something to be applauded. But if you’re the Edmonton Oilers right now, how can you not go with Hall as the first overall pick next month? The powerful skater has done nothing but perform on every big stage put in front of him. This is a guy that was drilled head-first into the boards on his first shift of the tournament, came back a few minutes later after shaking off the cobwebs and scored the prettiest goal of the event on his first shift back and became the first player in the history of the Memorial Cup to win consecutive MVP honours. Hall has the total package and isn’t scared of the spotlight. To top it off, Hall is an Alberta kid (born in Calgary) and has played on a line with Oilers’ prospect Jordan Eberle with Team Canada. The Oilers’ rebuild has its share of challenges, but picking Hall has the potential to speed up the process.

— Travis Hamonic is a competitor. The pride of St. Malo, Man., took Sunday’s loss hard, but his future is bright. He embraced the challenge of trying to shut down the oppos-ition’s top line in each game and the guy is driven to succeed. The New York Islanders stole this guy in the second round in 2008 and he’ll only help as the NHL club attempts to return to prominence.

— Perhaps the most emotional moment of this tournament took place prior to puck drop last Sunday. While the fans did a nice job of saluting former players throughout the event — from Wade Redden to Winkler product Eric Fehr to members of the 1959 Winnipeg Braves — but the ovation received by Jordin Tootoo was simply captivating. The Nashville Predators bundle of energy is beloved for his four seasons in Brandon and the fans showed their appreciation in a moment so moving that it brought Tootoo to tears. It was easily the loudest and longest cheer of the entire week.


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