Memorial Cup Retrospective
With the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup now underway, we're going to take the opportunity to look back on some memorable moments from our appearances in the 2006 and 2007 tournaments. Join us here from May 17 - 28 as we look back on key moments, interesting facts, and "what happened on this day".
On this day in 2007, the tournament began with a game between the host Giants and the OHL Champion Plymouth Whalers, who featured future NHL'ers like James Neal (PIT), Tom Sestito (PHI), Jared Boll (CBJ) and Michal Neuvirth (WAS). The game was a see-saw battle that ended when the Giants' Kenndal McArdle (WPG) fired home a shot at 5:06 of overtime to send the 13,428 fans in attendance home happy. Vancouver's Milan Lucic (BOS) scored two goals and was the game's 1st star, while Neal also netted a pair and took home 2nd star honours. Spencer Machacek (WPG) opened the scoring for the Giants.
On this day in 2006, the Giants made their Memorial Cup debut against the QMJHL Champion and tournament host, Moncton Wildcats. That team was led by Keith Yandle (PHX), Philippe Dupuis (TOR), Brad Marchand (BOS) and the late Luc Bourdon (VAN). Michal Repik (FLA) scored the first Memorial Cup goal in Giants history just 1:17 into the game, but the Wildcats, coached by former Jack Adams Trophy winner Ted Nolan, eeked out a 3-2 victory. Vancouver’s other goal came from Mitch Bartley. It was a chippy affair that set the table for another spirited meeting later in the tournament.
On this day in 2007, the Giants were cheered on by 13,734 fans at the Pacific Coliseum, as they took on the QMJHL Champion Lewiston MAINE-iacs. The US-based club was led by sniper David Perron (STL) and stalwart goaltender Jonathan Bernier (LAK), and was known to be extremely stingy defensively. A Perron first period goal held up until the third period, when Kenndal McArdle (WPG) and Wacey Rabbit (two mid-season trade acquisitions for the Giants) scored to lead the Giants to a 2-1 victory. The win moved the Giants to 2-0 and set up a huge final round robin game against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
On this day in 2006, the Giants took the ice against Angelo Esposito, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJS), Alexander Radulov (NAS) and the Quebec Remparts. Coached by NHL legend Patrick Roy, the Remparts qualified for the tournament despite losing to the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL Final. As CHL rules dictate, since the Wildcats were also tournament hosts the Remparts earned an automatic berth by making their league finals. The Giants got off to another hot start, with 1st period goals by Mitch Bartley and Gilbert Brule (PHX). After a Paul Albers goal in the 2nd, they would carry a 3-2 lead into the 3rd period. However, Quebec would explode for four unanswered goals in the final frame on route to a 6-3 victory. Radulov was prominent, with 2 goals and 1st star honours.
On this day in 2006, the Giants’ backs were against the wall. After having gone 16-2 through the WHL Playoffs en route to a WHL Championship, they had lost their first two games at the Memorial Cup and needed a win to stay alive. Their opponents were the OHL Champion Peterborough Petes, led by Patrick Kaleta (BUF), Steve Downie (COL) and Jordan Staal (PIT). Brett Parker opened the scoring for the Giants, and Gilbert Brule (PHX) added a pair, as the Giants hung on for a 3-2 victory, thus guaranteeing at least a spot in a 3rd place tie-breaker game. The next day, Quebec beat Moncton in the last round robin game, which meant the Giants and Petes would meet again in the tie-breaker.
On this day in 2007, the final day of the round robin saw two familiar foes square off – the Vancouver Giants and the Medicine Hat Tigers. The teams battled through an epic seven-game WHL Final, which the Tigers won in double overtime of Game 7. They were led by Tyler Ennis (BUF), Derek Dorsett (CBJ), Kris Russell (STL) and Darren Helm (DET), but their goalie Matt Keetley was the star of this night, posting a shut-out as Medicine Hat skated to a 1-0 victory. The win gave them an automatic berth into the Memorial Cup Final, while the Giants finished in second place and would face the winner of a Plymouth-Lewiston tie-breaker in the semi-final.
On this day in 2006, the Giants and Peterborough Petes met again – this time in a tie-breaker game that would give the winner a berth in the Semi-Final against the Moncton Wildcats. The Giants had posted a 3-2 win over the Petes only two days earlier, and they carried that momentum into this game with a goal from defenceman Cody Franson (TOR) in the 1st period. Gilbert Brule (PHX) made it 2-0 early in the 2nd, before Franson potted another two goals to complete the hat trick before the period was complete. Brule and Jonathon Blum (NAS) heaped on two more tallies in the 3rd, and Dustin Slade earned the shut-out, as the Giants cruised to a 6-0 win.
On this day in 2007, a berth in the Memorial Cup Final was on the line as the Giants faced the Plymouth Whalers in the Semi-Final. Plymouth was forced to play a tie-breaker game with Lewiston the night before, skating to a 5-1 victory, but they proved to be no match for the Giants on this night. There would be no repeat of the overtime that was needed when these teams met in the tournament opener, as the Giants bowled over the Whalers by an 8-1 score in front of 13,372 fans at the Pacific Coliseum. Wacey Rabbit, Cody Franson (TOR), J.D. Watt and Spencer Machacek (WPG) had singles, while Michal Repik (WPG) and James Wright each added a pair. Most importantly, the wide margin of victory allowed coach Don Hay to use his entire bench – including the back-up goalie, Blaine Neufeld – in order to keep everyone rested and healthy going into the Final against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
On this day in 2006, the Giants set sights on their first ever trip to the Memorial Cup Final as they took the ice against the host Moncton Wildcats in the tournament Semi-Final. The chippiness that marked their first encounter earlier in the tournament continued. It was a heated, tightly-contested game that saw the teams tied after both the 1st and 2nd periods (0-0 and 1-1 respectively). Gilbert Brule (PHX) continued his dominant play with yet another goal, but it wouldn’t be enough, as the Wildcats scored twice in the 3rd, including an empty netter, to seal the win. The Giants pushed hard right to the final whistle though, which nearly resulted in a line-brawl with only seconds left on the clock. Despite the loss, Brule was named the game's 1st star.
On this day in 2007, over 16,000 fans packed the Pacific Coliseum to watch their Vancouver Giants take on the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Memorial Cup Final. It was the ninth game between the Giants and Tigers that month, so both sides new exactly what to expect – a tight-checking, physical battle between two very talented and hard-working teams. The 1st period was scoreless but featured the most memorable moment of the tournament – something now known to Giants fans as “The Shift”. Vancouver’s Milan Lucic (BOS) hopped over the boards roughly four minutes into the game and proceeded to hammer three different Tigers with punishing body-checks, including Jordan Bendfeld who then challenged Lucic to drop the gloves. But to no one’s surprise, Lucic won the fight and sent the crowd into a fervor, thus setting the tone for the rest of the game. Mario Bliznak opened the scoring for the Giants during a goal-mouth scramble in the 2nd period before Medicine Hat tied it up later in the frame with a marker from Darren Helm (DET). Despite Vancouver badly out-shooting the Tigers, the score remained 1-1 until the 15:05 mark of the 3rd when Michal Repik (FLA) tucked in a wrap-around to put the Giants ahead. They shut the door the rest of the way, and Spencer Machacek (WPG) added an empty netter to secure a 3-1 victory and the first Memorial Cup Championship in team history. Repik took the tournament scoring title while Lucic was named the tournament MVP.
FACTS & RECORDS
Six Giants have been named Memorial Cup All-Stars – Gilbert Brule and Paul Albers in 2006, and Milan Lucic, Michal Repik, Cody Franson and Brendan Mikkelson in 2007
Two Giants have won the Ed Chynoweth Trophy as Memorial Cup Leading Scorer – Gilbert Brule in 2006 and Michal Repik in 2007 (Repik actually finished tied with Milan Lucic and Plymouth’s Tom Sestito in total points but won the award based on a higher goal total)
One Giant has won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Award as tournament MVP – Milan Lucic in 2007
Gilbert Brule’s 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 2006 was the highest total registered in the tournament since 1997, until Michael Chapot equaled the mark for Shawinigan this year
With the 2007 win, Don Hay earned his third Memorial Cup Championship as Head Coach – a CHL record
Four members of that 2007 Championship team are current members of the Winnipeg Jets organization (Evander Kane, Kendall McArdle, Spencer Machacek and Brett Festerling). It's actually five members if you count Equipment Manager Jay McMaster.
The 2007 tournament in Vancouver set a number of tournament attendance records, including:
The three most attended round robin games (May 23 – 14,091, May 20 – 13,734 and May 18 – 13,428)
The most attended Semi-Final game (May 25 – 13,372)
The second-most attended Championship Final (May 27 – 16,281)
Highest total attendance (121,461 fans over 9 games)
Highest average attendance (13,496 fans per game)