Memorial Cup teams will never admit to pressure

Portland Winterhawks Coach Travis Green during the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon,...

Portland Winterhawks Coach Travis Green during the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Saturday May 18, 2013. Al Charest/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:46 PM ET

SASKATOON - It’s about being able to handle adversity and pressure, you know, like that expression says ‘never let them see you sweat.’

At the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, the only time you really see teams sweat is when they come off the ice.

No matter how desperate a situation you think they are in on the ice, off the ice there’s hardly a trickle of perspiration or worry wrinkle to be seen on any of the fresh-faced young faces.

The Portland Winterhawks would have been one of the last teams anyone would have targeted as being in trouble. They lost only 12 games this year, setting a team record for points and wins. They have the No. 1-rated player in Seth Jones and a slew of his cohorts led by Ty Rattie, are NHL-calibre players.

The Hawks opened the tournament with a 7-4 loss to the Halifax Mooseheads, No. 1 team in the country.

With the London Knights winning their first game and Saskatoon Blades upsetting the Mooseheads on Sunday, the Winterhawks are the only team without a win going into Monday’s game against the Knights.

But one loss to the best team in the country didn’t rattle the Winterhawks as much as it rattled everyone else.

The severity of the loss more than the loss itself surprised a lot of people.

But the Winterhawks believed they played better than the score indicated but poor goaltender will make a situation look worse that it was.

As for the Knights, there isn’t much they can be unhappy about in this tournament so far.

They have a comfort zone of having won their first game and a loss in their second game won’t knock them out of the tournament.

The Knights have also had a good look at the opposition and like the Knights themselves. No teams is bulletproof.

Their opponents have weak spots that can be exploited.

This tournament lives up to the cliché that on any given day, anyone can beat anyone else.

“None of the teams got here by accident. They are all good,” laughed Knights’ coach Dale Hunter. “They all have good penalty killing, all have good power plays.”

Left unsaid are that they all have those weaknesses which on any given day can do them in.

The Blades don’t score very much but they have the sharpest goaltender in the tournament right now in Andrey Makarov.

The Mooseheads are inconsistent and while they have great individual talent, that inconsistency often puts them behind early. They also give up a lot of goalscoring chances.

The Knights may be the strongest defensive team here but they have trouble putting games away.

The Winterhawks have had goaltending issues early.

Regardless of which team wins Monday between the Knights and Winterhawks, it will not decide anything. A Portland win and all four teams have a win and a loss. A Knights win and the Knights still haven’t secured first place because their final game is against Halifax and Halifax is 1-1.

If Portland loses, they’ll be 0-2 but their final game is against Saskatoon who is 1-1. A Portland win in that game and the Winterhawks still have a chance to move on.

There will be many more twists and turns before this tournament is done.

Why?

What was supposed to be a party for three has now become a party for four.

No one thought Saskatoon was good enough to party with the other three teams so instead of waiting for an invitation, the Blades with their strong performance against the Knights and win over Halifax, invited themselves by kicking the door in.

“We knew we belonged,” said Blades’ forward Lukas Sutter. “We weren’t worried.”

“We lost one game. After looking at the film, we weren’t that bad,” said Winterhawks’ Taylor Leier of his team’s first-game loss. “We know that we’ve always come back after a bad game and played well. We aren’t worried or thinking about 0-2.”

Like we said, never let them see you sweat.

 


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