Storm boots host Knights out of Memorial Cup

Michael McCarron (left) of the London Knights hits Phil Baltisberger of the Guelph Storm during the...

Michael McCarron (left) of the London Knights hits Phil Baltisberger of the Guelph Storm during the Memorial Cup tournament at Budweiser Gardens on May 21, 2014 in London. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:41 AM ET

LONDON - Chris Tierney has four years worth of wonderful London hockey moments.

None of them will be related to this last week.

“This will always be a bad memory,” the Knights captain said after the Memorial Cup hosts checked out of the tournament with an 0-3 record and a painful 7-2 loss to unbeaten rival Guelph before 8,863 Wednesday night at Budweiser Gardens. “None of the the Memorial Cups were really successful. Yeah, we won two OHL championships but we didn't really accomplish our goal.”

Every kid who plays major junior hockey dreams of being on this big stage once.

But for three teams every year, this event ends in bitterness.

For the Knights, it has happened over and over again.

"Just didn't get it done, but we wanted to get it done,” London head coach Dale Hunter said of a high-scoring offence that managed a meagre four goals in three games. “There's a lot of battle in them. It's one of those things that you get beat by a team that's very good.

“I've been on both sides of it in my career.”

Lately, he has only seen the down side of it.

This three-year run, so special in franchise history, has lost its lustre with repeated failures against the best of competition.

“You're losing a Memorial Cup at home and you can't even get a win,” Domi said. “There's nothing really glorious about that. It sucks. But three straight years of being in the Cup is pretty special. London can say that. Every year's been different and I love every single guy I played with.

“This is the best place to play in junior hockey.”

Domi, Bo Horvat and the eight 20-goal scorers didn't produce. Goalie Anthony Stolarz was yanked in his last two games.

The Knights never led once in this Cup and fell behind early again. Against Guelph these days, that's a death sentence.

“It's been tough,” said Londoner Brett Welychka, who ended the Knights' forwards' six-period scoring drought. “It's a short tournament and we didn't get the start we wanted.”

They will live in infamy with the 2003 Quebec Remparts as the host team who couldn't bag a win. This one, on home ice, will hurt for a long time.

They refuse, though, to be embarrassed by it.

“If people want to complain about us losing three in a row, we went to the end of May every time (the last three years),” Welychka said. “We've been playing a lot longer than a lot of other kids. There are a lot of people on their couch right now and I was fortunate to play in three Memorial Cups.

“Other than winning, I can't ask for more.”

Looking back, they will rue their rusty-stick 1-0 loss to Val d'Or in their opener. It was the first time in four tries they didn't win their first Cup game.

“I thought if we were to win a game, we'd get the ball rolling and get the town going,” graduating defenceman Alex Basso said. “Sometimes, it doesn't happen. I guess it wasn't our week. I don't have any regrets losing three games.”

But there were some lessons learned.

“You have to be a team every second, play like a team and help each other,” star d-man Nikita Zadorov said. “First of all, you have to believe in yourself and trust yourself.”

That got harder to do as the week went on. They will never really have an answer for why the offence went south.

“We had posts and goalmouth scrambles and we didn't have any puck luck – we didn't score enough,” Tierney said. “We built for this year a number of years now. This was a lot of guys' third crack at it.

“To not even win a game, it's devastating.”

They have become the poster boys for how difficult this event is to win. This chance must be seized.

“I know they're pretty beat up about losing,” Guelph captain Matt Finn said. “They played hard. I know they weren't at the level they would've been if they had played the competitive hockey the three others teams had been.”

Everyone wants to be the champion and we got the job done. They've had great years in the past and this year, they were in the toughest division in the OHL, probably the CHL.

“Hockey's a funky game.”

And often unforgiving.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/RyanatLFPress

GAME GLANCE

Storm 7, Knights 2

Guelph goals: Scott Kosmachuk (3), Tyler Bertuzzi (2), Jason Dickinson, Marc Stevens

London goals: Brett Welychka, Josh Anderson


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