LONDON - This is turning into London’s uncomfortable Memorial Cup.
The Guelph Storm, who ended the Knights’ season twice, are the favourites to hoist the big trophy Sunday afternoon on Budweiser Gardens ice.
And the frontrunners for tournament MVP?
Take your pick between Kerby Rychel, the former Windsor Spitfires captain, and Tyler Bertuzzi, Public Enemy No. 1 this week.
Bertuzzi, the Detroit second-rounder, has scored five goals in three games. He usually stirs it up — he said North Bay fans threw beer and popcorn at him in the OHL final — and was at his nails-on-chalkboard best in the elimination of the Knights Wednesday.
“I’m an agitator, I guess, and the crowd was booing me for whatever reason,” said the 19-year-old nephew of NHLer Todd Bertuzzi. “My rookie year, I needed to show what I could do, whether it was fighting (which he did a lot). It’s fun. It gets everyone going. You get the other team off their game and (it) gets the guys excited.
“It gives the team (energy).”
Guelph head coach Scott Walker says he never knows if Bertuzzi is grimacing or smiling. Knights fans jeered the 6-foot, 178-pounder from Sudbury as he was being helped off the ice after taking a knee hit from London’s giant defenceman Nikita Zadorov.
Bertuzzi has been receiving treatment for a charley horse on that play.
“A little sore, but it’s hockey,” he said. “It hurt. I just battled through it. We have (three) days off before the final.”
A lot of teams have two solid lines who can score. Guelph is particularly devastating because Bertuzzi, currently on the third line with Stephen Pierog and Pius Suter, is also filling the net.
He played only 29 regular season games this year because of injury, but caught fire for 10 goals in the playoffs.
“Over my three years, my skills improved a lot,” he said. “Last year, I scored 13 goals (in 43 games). This year, I had a lot of confidence coming into these big games and it helped out.”
And what about Uncle Todd, the ex-Storm giant?
They keep in touch routinely.
“He’s my role model a little bit,” Tyler Bertuzzi said. “He texts me all the time wishing me good luck and how it’s going.
“I know he’s watching the games.”