Looking ahead to the Memorial Cup

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The 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup is set to get underway on Friday, May 20th at the ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta and for the fourth time in five years, the London Knights will be representing the Ontario Hockey League.

The Knights, who have captured their fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup in franchise history, have now won it three times in five seasons (2012, 2013 & 2016).

That’s like the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, who have captured three Stanley Cups in the past six seasons (2010, 2013 and 2015).

But the Knights, who won back to back J. Ross Robertson Cups in 2012 and 2013, before being named the host team of the 2014 Memorial Cup, have not won a Memorial Cup since they hosted it back in 2005.

A pair of players with Sault Ste. Marie ties played on that 2005 Memorial Cup champion team, including Sault native Jeff Whitfield and London, Ontario product Kelly Thomson.

Jeff Whitfield, a former defenceman, and Kelly Thomson, a former forward, also played for our Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Soo Thunderbirds.

Whitfield was a member of the T-Birds for one season in 2000-2001, scoring one goal and seven points through thirty eight games along with fifty four penalty minutes.

Thomson, who spent two seasons with the Soo Thunderbirds from 2002-2004, scored thirty eight goals and seventy one points through fifty nine career games along with one hundred forty one penalty minutes.

In 2005, those two former Soo Thunderbirds helped the London Knights to their first ever Memorial Cup banner since the club entered the Ontario Hockey League in 1965.

During the 2016 Ontario Hockey League postseason, London Knights forward and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner led all players in points during the postseason with forty four.

Representing the Western Hockey League are the Memorial Cup host team Red Deer Rebels.

Since joining the Western Hockey League in 1992, the Rebels have only won the Memorial Cup once in 2001.

Forward Adam Helewka led the Rebels in points during the 2016 postseason with eighteen.

The Brandon Wheat Kings are the second team from Western Hockey League participating in the MasterCard Memorial Cup.

The 2016 Western Hockey League champions were led in playoff points by forwards Nolan Patrick and Jayce Hawryluk, who had thirty points each.

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are representing the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Forward Francis Perron led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postseason in points with thirty three and Huskies assistant coach Jason Fortier is from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

The ninety eighth MasterCard Memorial Cup runs from May 20th-29th in Red Deer, Alberta.