Attracting online audiences from coast to coast, the opening day of the premiere Memorial eCup presented by Kia offered up plenty of late-game heroics in which 10 clubs ultimately punched their ticket to the second round of tournament play:
Sarnia Sting 6 vs. Winnipeg ICE 4
Dropping the puck for the CHL’s first-ever eCup contest, the Sting and ICE played to a scoreless opening period before the first goal in tournament history came in the middle frame courtesy of Sarnia forward Brayden Guy, one of his two tallies on the day in a 6-4 victory that saw the eventual game winner come off the stick of fellow forward Samuel Bitten. Meanwhile, ICE forward Cole Muir offered up an impressive showing for the opposition with a two-goal outing. Represented by Justin O’Donnell, the victory sees Sarnia now ready for Round 2.
Tri-City Americans 2 vs. Guelph Storm 1 (SO)
A nail-biter between the Storm and Americans ultimately ended with the latter claiming victory in a shootout with the deciding tally coming courtesy of Colorado Avalanche prospect Sasha Mutala. The goal came following regulation markers by Storm forward Ben McFarlane and Americans forward John Little. With the victory, the Americans, represented by Booker Daniel, advanced to the second round.
Soo Greyhounds 2 vs. Swift Current Broncos 1
Another close contest came in the third matchup of the day that saw the Greyhounds prevail with a 2-1 decision thanks to goals from forwards Jaromir Pytlik, the newly minted New Jersey Devils prospect who opened the scoring less than two minutes after puck drop, as well as Tye Kartye, who netted the eventual game winner with less than one minute remaining. Offering up the lone goal for the Broncos was forward Bode Hagan. Led by eCup representative Rory Kerins, the victory sees the ‘Hounds move on to Round 2.
Saginaw Spirit 7 vs. Spokane Chiefs 3
There was no shortage of offense between the Chiefs and Spirit including two periods of play that saw Saginaw rally for three goals apiece. Pushing the pace offensively for the winning side was forward and New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins with a pair of tallies, with the first coming courtesy of a penalty shot. Blue-liner and Philadelphia Flyers up-and-comer Mason Millman then sealed the victory with only 19 seconds remaining. With the win, the Spirit led by team representative Danny Katic punched their ticket to the second round.
Hamilton Bulldogs 5 vs. Gatineau Olympiques 4
Late winners were the theme Saturday and that continued in the showdown between the Bulldogs and Olympiques that saw Hamilton forward Ryan Winterton cap the victory with just under 48 seconds left on the clock. Winterton’s winner came following an impressive performance from teammate Jan Mysak, a 2020 NHL Draft selection of the Montreal Canadiens who picked up a pair of tallies. Represented by netminder Zachary Roy, the victory lifted Hamilton into the second round of tournament play.
Brandon Wheat Kings 4 vs. Cape Breton Eagles 2
Holding even at a goal a side entering the final frame, the Wheat Kings found their way to the win column Saturday following a two-goal showing from veteran forward Cole Reinhardt, a 2020 NHL Draft selection of the Ottawa Senators whose timely second goal with under a minute to play sealed the victory for the Wheaties. Also finding the back of the net versus the Eagles was another Senators up-and-comer in 2020 selection Ridly Greig whose offensive effort helped the club led by Luka Burzan move on to Round 2.
Saskatoon Blades 3 vs. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 2
A tightly knit affair between the Armada and Blades saw another WHL club prevail Saturday thanks to a third-period marker from forward and San Jose Sharks prospect Tristen Robins that stood as the eventual game winner. Also scoring for Saskatoon were forwards Alex Morozoff and Chase Wouters. Despite coming up short, the Armada were dangerous from the back end with the team’s offense coming from defencemen Nathan Lavoie and Samuel Desgroseilliers. Represented by Rhett Rhinehart, the Blades now advance to the next round of play.
Medicine Hat Tigers 7 vs. Zach Hodder 1
The Tigers mauled one of their own Saturday, coming away with a 7-1 teardown of Medicine Hat alumnus and WHL guest participant Zach Hodder. Skating with five clubs during his decorated junior career, Hodder chose to represent one of his former clubs, the Vancouver Giants, but couldn’t hold off a Tigers squad led by birthday boy Lukas Svejkovsky who celebrated by opening the scoring in the opening minute of action. The offense continued with a total of seven unanswered markers including a four-goal second-period outburst before Team Hodder got on the board. The Tigers now ready for their second-round opponent.
Oshawa Generals 5 vs. Red Deer Rebels 4 (OT)
Represented by longtime forward Allan McShane, the Oshawa veteran got on the board with the first two markers of the game for his side before Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell replied with a pair of his own. Requiring extra time, the Generals came away with the victory thanks to a deciding tally from Nashville Predators first-round pick Philip Tomasino who capitalized shorthanded.
Vancouver Giants 4 vs. London Knights 0
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the middle frame, the offense continued from one side in the closing contest of the day as the Giants ultimately came away with a 4-0 triumph versus the Knights highlighted by a pair of markers from veteran forward Tristen Nielsen. Represented by Trevor Longo, the Saturday showdown also saw Giants netminder and Arizona Coyotes prospect David Tendeck pitch the lone shutout of the day.