BRANDON — Those two Memorial Cups on the back of the Windsor Spitfires T-shirts proved to be a fine piece of foreshadowing.
The Spitfires ran their tournament winning streak to eight games with a decisive 9-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings to capture their second consecutive Memorial Cup before a standing-room-only crowd of 5,609 at Westman Place on Sunday night.
The Spitfires, who finish the tournament with a flawless 4-0 record, survived an early surge from the host team and showcased their outstanding depth throughout the contest.
With the win, the Spitfires become the eighth team in history to capture consecutive Memorial Cups and the first since the Kamloops Blazers did it in 1994 and 1995.
“This team is filled with winners,” said Spitfires captain Harry Young. “I grew up in Windsor watching the Spitfires struggle for years. I was always a fan and to be in this situation now is really incredible. I’m very proud.”
Much of the Spitfires core group will be moving on to bigger and better things next season and they were determined to leave a lasting impression.
Taylor Hall, the 18-year-old phenom expected to be chosen either first or second in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, had a goal and two assists in the contest.
“It’s incredible, because of the way we did it, because of the adversity we faced during the regular season,” said Hall, who had five goals and nine points in the tournament to become the first player in the history of the Memorial Cup to win consecutive Stafford Smythe Memorial trophies as most valuable player. “It was a picture-perfect tournament for our team.
“This is pretty special. I think the next one is always best championship to win. Coming in, we knew it would be pretty hard to repeat.”
The Wheat Kings, who advanced to the final with an emotional 5-4 overtime victory over the Calgary Hitmen Friday, had several key opportunities to get on the board first, but it was the Spitfires who capitalized.
Adam Henrique collected a loose puck in the slot and slipped a quick shot through the five-hole of Wheat Kings goalie Jacob DeSerres at 6:34.
Just when it looked like the Wheaties might survive the opening period only one goal down, Eric Wellwood delivered a backbreaker with 33 seconds left.
Hall’s powerplay goal at 4:34 of the second period made it 3-0, but the Wheat Kings tried to make a game of it just under four minutes later, when Matt Calvert scored a power play goal of his own.
The Spitfires restored the three-goal cushion 40 seconds later, when Greg Nemisz scored on a goalmouth scramble that required a video review before it counted.
“That fourth one just killed us,” said Calvert. “Nobody really knew what was going on, but it really rattled our team. Our structure went from there, and after that, it got ugly.”
Mark Cantin, Cam Fowler, Zack Kassian, Henrique (with his second of the contest) and Dale Mitchell rounded out the scoring for the Spitfires.
Hall was top scorer, Wheat Kings forward Toni Rajala was most sportsmanlike player and Martin Jones of the Hitmen was the outstanding goaltender. The tournament All-star team includes Jones, Fowler, Travis Hamonic, Jimmy Bubnick of the Hitmen, Hall and Calvert. Fowler became the 21st player to ever win a world junior hockey championship gold medal and Memorial Cup in the same season.