Surreal time for Mem Cup champion

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Every member of the Stanley Cup winning team gets a day with the trophy.

Calgary Flames draft pick Greg Nemisz isn't sure the same rule applies for the Memorial Cup his Windsor Spitfires claimed Sunday night.

"We don't even know," said the 18-year-old selected by the Flames 25th overall in last June's NHL Entry Draft. "One of the guys asked that same question (Sunday). I have no idea."

One thing he knows for sure is how incredible it was the Spitfires ended their season with a championship.

Still stunned as the Cup was passed to him in Rimouski after a 4-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets in the title game, Nemisz said his mind was almost paralyzed.

"I was kind of in shock. I didn't think about too much. It's hard to explain the feeling," Nemisz said.

"It was kind of surreal."

More like unbelievable.

Starting the tournament with two straight losses, the Spitfires had to play a tiebreaker and the semi-final on back-to-back nights to reach the final.

No team in Memorial Cup history has done that and then claimed the title.

"Starting out 0-2 like that was tough, but we have a pretty confident bunch," said Nemisz, who believed they could climb back into the tournament with a win over the Rockets in their last roundrobin contest.

"We were just trying to stay positive. Positive thoughts. If you're at each other, it's gonna leak onto the ice. We were just thinking, 'If we can get this win, get our confidence back and keep rolling, we'll be OK the rest of the way.' "

They were. Eeking out a 2-1 win over the Rockets before handing the Rimouski Oceanic and the Drummondville Voltigeurs narrow defeats on consecutive nights to set up a rematch with the Rockets in the final, the Spitfires felt they had help from above.

"For sure," Nemisz said of fellow Flames pick Mickey Renaud, who died of a heart ailment last year.

"I think he was with us all tournament. We had some things happen that you could just feel him there. It's hard to explain."

Honouring Renaud by holding his Spitfires jersey behind the trophy in the traditional team photo on the ice, they dedicated the year to their former captain.

"We talked about it. This one was definitely for Mick," said Nemisz.

"We couldn't be happier to do it for him."

They could do it again next year.

Losing some key players like goaltender Andrew Engelage and overagers Ben Shutron and Rob Kwiet on the back end, with too many current 19-year-old forwards to keep, there will be changes.

But the young and talented core is intact, and head coach Bob Boughner has plenty of reasons to stick around despite the thought he would make a heck of a coach in the NHL.

"If that's something he wants to pursue, I'm sure he could," Nemisz said. "I think he's pretty happy with the setup we've got going here in Windsor.

"He kind of built this. He's had this vision for us all along. He's going to see it through."

With a solid team pretty much intact.

Unlike last year's Memorial Cup, which snapped into pieces a year ago when presented to the Spokane Chiefs, it stayed together Sunday.

"Yeah. We were laughing and joking around that one of us was going to break it on purpose," Nemisz said with a laugh. "Nothing happened."


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