On Wednesday night, the round-robin portion of the 2019 CHL Memorial Cup tournament came to a close, with a rematch of the QMJHL Final between the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the host city Halifax Mooseheads.
The WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders went winless in the tournament, and are out,
While Rouyn-Noranda got the win in that game ending the round robin phase, Halifax benefited from the three-way tiebreaking format and advanced to the Memorial Cup final outright. Separately, Rouyn-Noranda advanced to the semi-final against the OHL champion Guelph Storm, which will determine the Mooseheads’ tournament final game opponent.
Entwistle, Ryczek, and Gravel advance in Memorial Cup
For the three Chicago Blackhawks prospects still alive in the tournament, this weekend’s action will be the cap to some impressive seasons in the Canadian Hockey League.
Friday night’s matchup between Guelph and Rouyn Noranda and for Chicago represents a chance for Blackhawks prospect Mackenzie Entwistle to finish something he started in last year’s Memorial Cup. Entwistle lost in the semi-final last season while playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs. He returned this season as a two-time OHL Champion and has three points through the round-robin portion of the tournament.
Entwistle tallied a goal and an assist in the first game of the tournament, a 5-2 Guelph win over Rouyn-Noranda. He was held off the scoresheet against Halifax in the second game of the tournament and then finished the round-robin with an assist in Guelph’s win over Prince Albert. Friday night’s puck drop for the semi-final takes place at 6 p.m. Central Time at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
After falling to Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL Finals, the Halifax found themselves playing host for the Memorial Cup—riding the momentum of friendly crowds to wins in their first two contests of the tournament. Behind Blackhawks goalie prospect Alexis Gravel and defense prospect Jake Ryczek, the Mooseheads took care of Prince Albert and Guelp, locking themselves into the elimination round with just the rematch of the QMJHL Final ahead of them.
While the Mooseheads were not able to top the Huskies in their rematch, a 4-3 loss, the result still guaranteed them a tie for first-place—from which the tiebreaker moved them directly to the Final. For Ryczek, 12 shots on goal rank him in a five-way tie for third most in the tournament and his goal against the Prince Albert in the opening game of the tournament helped propel Halifax to a commanding 4-1 win. In his last go-around with the Mooseheads this season, Ryczek has a chance to win his first-ever tournament championship in his junior career.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Mooseheads’ run to the Memorial Cup Final has been the play in net of Alexis Gravel. He made 56 saves on the first 59 shots he faced in the tournament, winning both games and being named first star in Game Two against Guelph. Gravel finished the round-robin games with a 2-1-0 record and leads the tournament with a 2.33 GAA and a .929 save-percentage as he and Halifax head to the Memorial Cup Final on Sunday.