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Ten key players to watch at the Memorial Cup in Halifax

Halifax Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel pokechecks Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Joel Teasdale during the third period of Saturday’s QMJHL final game at the Scotiabank Centre.
Halifax Mooseheads goalie Alexis Gravel pokechecks Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Joel Teasdale during the third period of Saturday’s QMJHL final game at the Scotiabank Centre. - Ryan Taplin

Not sure who to watch during the Memorial Cup? Here’s a cheat sheet on 10 key players.

1. Nick Suzuki, C, Guelph Storm: Suzuki arrived in Guelph after a major mid-season trade with the Owen Sound Attack. He had 49 points in 29 games down the stretch in the regular season and then won the playoff scoring race with 42 points in 24 games. He finished 11 points ahead of Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67’s. The OHL’s playoff MVP was drafted 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017 but was traded to the Montreal Canadiens last year with Tomas Tatar and a second-round pick for Max Pacioretty. Suzuki was the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player in back-to-back years and also won the CHL award in 2016-17. He only has 44 penalty minutes in 251 regular season OHL games.

2. Joel Teasdale, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies: Like Suzuki, Teasdale is Habs property and was the top playoff scorer in his league (20 GP, 34 points). Unlike Suzuki, Teasdale’s bread and butter is his physical play. At six feet, 203 pounds, he plays a heavy game and is a devastating forechecker. He was also a mid-season acquisition and had 42 points in 29 regular season games after coming over from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Teasdale led the QMJHL in playoff shots with 102.

3. Ian Scott, G, Prince Albert Raiders: The Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick (fourth round, 2017) led the WHL in goals against average (1.96) and save percentage (.925) in the playoffs to earn league MVP honours. But as amazing as those numbers are, they are actually inferior to the stats he put up during the regular season — 1.83 GAA and .932 save percentage. Scott also had 13 total shutouts this year — eight in the regular season and five in the post-season.

4. Raphael Lavoie, RW, Halifax Mooseheads: He scored more playoff goals (20) than anyone in major junior hockey this year. Lavoie also finished second to Teasdale in Q post-season <FZ,1,0,54>scoring with 32 points in 23 games and is the highest-rated 2019 NHL draft prospect in the tournament. Some scouting services have the six-foot-four winger ranked as high as the top 10 for next month’s draft.

5. Noah Dobson, D, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies: There isn’t much the Summerside native hasn’t already achieved. He won the Memorial Cup last year with the Bathurst Titan and was a tournament all-star after putting up seven points in four games. One month later, the New York Islanders drafted him in the first round (12th overall) and he followed that up by leading Canada’s defence at the 2019 world junior championship. Dobson won a second straight President Cup with the Huskies on Saturday and was the playoff MVP.

6. Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert Raiders: The 20-year-old is the definition of a late bloomer. He has already been passed over twice in the NHL draft but many scouts have him ranked as a first-rounder this year. Leason improved his point totals from 32 in 2017-18 to 89 this season and played for Team Canada at this year’s world junior championship. He finished second in the WHL playoff scoring race — by one point — with 25 points in 22 games.

7. Samuel Asselin, C, Halifax Mooseheads: Not many folks outside of Shawinigan and Bathurst had even heard of Asselin before last year’s Memorial Cup. The former Cataractes captain stepped up with five goals in four games to earn a spot on the tournament all-star team. The Mooseheads certainly took notice and made him their first target on the trade market this season. The overager rewarded them by leading the QMJHL in goals with 48 and is even more valuable for his leadership qualities.

8. Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph Storm: His 50 goals and 102 penalty minutes are the key regular season numbers but take note of these stats as well — six-foot-six and 204 pounds. Ratcliffe rides shotgun with Suzuki and is one of nine Guelph players who is six-foot-two or taller. The other winger on the Storm’s top line — MacKenzie Entwistle — is six-foot-three so size often matters in Storm wins. Ratcliffe led the OHL with 99 playoff shots and was third in goals (15) and points (30).

9. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies: While Teasdale and Dobson were stealing all the headlines, the Huskies captain was the most productive player in the championship series against the Mooseheads. Harvey-Pinard finished with eight goals and 14 points in six games and finished the playoffs on an 11-game points streak. He registered two or more points in five of the six games in the final, including three three-point performances.

10. Dmitri Samorukov, D, Guelph Storm: Dobson (29 points) was the only defenceman in the CHL with more playoff points than Samorukov (28 points). He, too, was a standout at the world juniors, putting up four points and a plus-9 rating for Russia. Only Suzuki (plus-22) had a better rating in the OHL playoffs than Samorukov (plus-18).

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