Emotions high in Memorial Cup match

Mississauga St. Michael's Majors goalie J.P. Anderson (R) and teammates celebrate their win against...

Mississauga St. Michael's Majors goalie J.P. Anderson (R) and teammates celebrate their win against the Kootenay Ice during the third period of their Memorial Cup semi-final ice hockey game in Mississauga, May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:10 AM ET

MISSISSAUGA - Sleep didn't come easily for a couple of hockey players who have the ability to influence the final result of the 2011 Memorial Cup championship game.


Both Mississauga St. Michael's Majors captain Casey Cizikas and Saint John Sea Dogs overage forward Michael Kirkpatrick tossed and turned on Saturday night in anticipation of playing in the biggest game of their junior careers.


"The emotions of the game, you are thinking about every possible scenario," Cizikas said after the Majors‚ morning skate on Sunday. "It took me 2 1/2 hours to fall asleep because you try so hard to do it"


The same went for Kirkpatrick.


"Nathan Beaulieu is my roommate and (at one point) I said 'Nathan?'‚ And he said, 'Yeah?," Kirkpatrick said. "And I said, 'You‚re awake too?‚' And this was at 1:30 in the morning."


Like Cizikas, Kirkpatrick's mental tug of war kept him awake. Listening to Eminem on his iPod did not help.


"It's all of that: nerves, trying to visualize what I am doing on the ice, just this weird feeling you get in your stomach," Kirkpatrick said. "You're excited and you want to get that game going."


The Cup final will feature two clubs that couldn't be more different. Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant, named the Canadian Hockey League coach of the year on Saturday, has a run-and-gun team that can play defence if it's required.


The Majors‚ Dave Cameron, on the other hand, has 18 players, that, for the most part, can be put on the ice in any situation and excel. No stars, but plenty of heart. It's defence first all the way for the Majors.


For Cizikas and Cameron, the Memorial Cup final marks one last chance to win the big game this season. They were together for Canada's gold-medal loss against Russia at the world junior in Buffalo, and then there was the Game 7 overtime fall to the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League final.


"It was a crappy feeling after (the gold-medal game) and same with the OHL final," Cizikas said. "It motivates me a lot. Momentum is a crazy thing. Once you get it, you can win a game like the Russians did. It was a learner for me. We had it all going into the third, and with a snap of the fingers, they had it."


The final score on Sunday night will guarantee one happy ending. The Majors‚ Justin Shugg is trying to become the second player to win three consecutive Memorial Cups; Sea Dogs goalie Jacob DeSerres has been asked all week about redemption after allowing nine goals, as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings, against the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup final last year.


Sea Dogs forward Steven Anthony, meanwhile, will make his tournament debut after recovering from a lower-body injury. Anthony, who has been out of the lineup for three weeks, had 23 goals during the regular season.


terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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