June 12th, 2024

Saginaw tips London 4-3 to win Memorial Cup

By Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press on June 2, 2024.

Saginaw Spirit's Owen Beck (62) is hugged by Rodwin Dionicio (94) after scoring a goal against the London Knights during first period Memorial Cup hockey final action in Saginaw, Mich., Sunday, June 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Duane Burleson

SAGINAW, Mich. – Josh Bloom scored the game-winning goal with 21.7 seconds left to lift the host Saginaw Spirit to their first Memorial Cup with a 4-3 victory over the London Knights on Sunday.

Bloom tucked in a rebound after a scramble ensued in front of the net from a Jorian Donovan point shot and the home crowd erupted.

Saginaw becomes the eighth first-time participant to win the Memorial Cup since 1972 and the first since 2011. In addition, the Spirit became the third host team in the last six tournaments to win the title.

It’s also the fifth time an American CHL team has won the Memorial Cup in its 104-year history. The Portland Winterhawks (1983, 1988) and the Spokane Chiefs (1991, 2008) were the others.

Owen Beck, with two goals, and Joey Willis also scored for host Saginaw. Andrew Oke stopped 10 shots.

Kasper Halttunen, Easton Cowan, Sam Dickinson replied for London. Michael Simpson made 27 saves.

Sunday’s final was the 12th time the two teams have squared off this season.

The Knights and Spirit split their four regular-season meetings before matching up in the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference finals, where London emerged victorious in six games before winning the OHL title.

Saginaw and London then played in the round-robin finale on Wednesday, with the Knights coming out on top 4-2 to earn a final berth. The Spirit thumped Moose Jaw 7-1 in Friday’s semifinal to get another crack at London on Sunday.

Beck opened the scoring at 9:07 of the first period, to a thunderous ovation from the home crowd. Beck won the faceoff at the left circle but a scramble for the puck ensued, and he got the loose puck and fired it past Simpson glove side with nobody else aware of where the puck was.

London forward Landon Sim was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for an elbow to Zayne Parekh’s face that left the star Spirit defenceman down on the ice for a couple minutes before getting up under his own power.

Beck added his second of the game on the power play with 44.3 seconds left in the first. He fired in a one-timer from the right faceoff circle on a feed from Bloom 18 seconds into the man advantage.

The Knights didn’t get their first shot on net until 3:09 remained in the period. The Spirit outshot them 13-1 through 20 minutes of play.

Willis made it a 3-0 game at 7:47 of the second period. He got a loose puck at centre ice, drove right down the middle of London’s zone with a defender off to each side of him and beat Simpson with a backhand shot.

Halttunen finally put London on the board at 9:45 of the frame. He picked up a loose puck at the blue line and ripped a wrist shot that beat Oke blocker side from the left faceoff circle.

Saginaw maintained a sizable shot advantage of 24-6 after 40 minutes.

Cowan made it a one-goal game at 7:48 of the third period. Dickinson sent the puck off the boards from behind the net and found Cowan at the right faceoff circle and he fired it past Oke.

Dickinson then knotted the contest at 10:16 to the raucous approval of the London faithful in the crowd. He capitalized on a feed from Max McCue on a 2-on-1.

ALL-OHL FINAL

Sunday was the fifth time two OHL teams met in the Memorial Cup championship game.

Host Windsor defeated OHL champion Erie in 2017, host Sault Ste. Marie topped OHL champion Peterborough in 1993, OHL champion Oshawa prevailed over Kitchener in 1990, and OHL champion Ottawa beat host Kitchener in 1984.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024.

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