Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rematch of the Rivals

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers finished off a hard fought seven game battle for the Western Hockey League championship, and even that game seven wasn’t decided until the two teams had played into two periods of Overtime hockey.

So to say that they’re familiar with each other might be an understatement. In fact you could down right say that this long running Western League rivalry is becoming the clash of the legends.

The two will face off one more time this season, this time with the ultimate prize in Canadian Junior hockey up for grabs. At 1 pm on Sunday, in front of a packed house at the Pacific coliseum in Vancouver, the two will battle one more time for the chance to claim Memorial Cup.

They know each others strengths and weaknesses, their key players, the special plays, when they tend to fade and when they can pour it on, maybe even what ever deodorant each player uses.

The two head coaches of each team have become the closest of friends in the Junior hockey world, frequently calling each other up to exchange pleasantries and ideas, though we suspect they’ve been pre-occupied this week to do much in the way of socializing.

The games their two teams have provided in the Western league have been showcases of hockey at it’s fast paced best, hard hitting, smart and strategic. Two evenly matched and well coached squads where only a subtle miscue can stand between victory and loss. For the most part the advantage has been to the Tigers who have been able to capitalize at the key time in most matches, but on Sunday it's a one game showdown for it all, a fifty fifty chance of success or failure.

When the two teams take to the national stage and in front of what should be a huge national television audience in Canada they will show the rest of Canada the best of what the WHL has to offer. Hockey played at its fastest pace, combined with the kind of physical play that is making the WHL famous.

With the NHL having taken its bizarre week off from public attention, the CHL championship has never had the kind of media attention that it has received in the last seven days, the stage is it and its alone on Sunday.

Both WHL representatives are familiar with the pressure of the Memorial Cup, the Tigers last appeared in 2004 with a loss, while the Giants were eliminated as well from last years Memorial tournament in Moncton.

One team will be celebrating sometime Sunday night, while the other will have to settle for coming up second best. When that celebration/resignation will take place though is anyone’s guess, these two teams like to play hockey, past history has shown that they may play all night if they have to. And don’t bet against that being just what happens when the Tigers and Giants renew acquaintances.

For a sample of the show to come, here are some of the reports filed for the preview of Sunday’s showdown. Vancouver Giants, Medicine Hat Tigers a toss-up in Memorial Cup final Tigers savour spot at cup final
Winnipeg Sun-Giants roll into Memorial Cup final
Winnipeg Sun- Surprising goalie shines
Vancouver Sun- One final battle
Globe and Mail- Final to feature familiar West rivals Public enemy number one West will be best
Calgary Sun- One more time
Toronto Metro News-Memorial Cup primer
Vancouver Province- Giants on last chance power drive
Vancouver Province- Dorsett good at getting under the skin
Ottawa Sun- Giants seek redemption in final

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