REGINA — The 100th Memorial Cup gets underway on Friday with the host Regina Pats taking on the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
Here’s a look at each of the teams competing at this year’s Canadian Hockey League championship tourney:
REGINA PATS, HOST
2017-18 record: 40-25-7, third in East Division
How they got here: Tournament host. Lost in first round of WHL playoffs to Swift Current.
Player to watch: Sam Steel. The 2016 first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks had 83 points in 54 regular-season games while adding 11 points in seven playoff contests. Won gold with Canada at the 2018 world junior championship and was the 2016-17 WHL player of the year.
Fun fact: The Pats also lost in the first round of the playoffs the last time they hosted the Memorial Cup in 2001. Regina lost to Val-d’Or in the semifinal of that tournament.
SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS, WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
2017-18 record: 48-17-7, second in East Division
How they got here: Defeated Everett in six games to claim the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
Player to watch: Stuart Skinner. He had a WHL-playoff leading six shutouts, 2.20 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 26 post-season games. Swift Current acquired him from Lethbridge in January and the Edmonton Oilers prospect has been solid ever since.
Fun fact: The Broncos hadn’t won a league title since 1993 — the most recent time a Saskatchewan-based WHL franchise was crowned league champion.
HAMILTON BULLDOGS, ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
2017-18 record: 43-18-7, first in Eastern Conference
How they got here: Beat Sault Ste. Marie in six games to capture the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
Player to watch: Robert Thomas. The 2017 first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues recorded seven points in the OHL final and 32 in the playoffs, earning Thomas the post-season MVP award. The Bulldogs acquired him from the London Knights in January, shortly after he won world junior gold with Canada.
Fun fact: The team reached the Memorial Cup in just its third season since relocating from Belleville. It’s Hamilton’s first OHL title since 1976.
ACADIE-BATHURST TITAN, QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
2017-18 record: 43-15-10, second overall in QMJHL
How they got here: Got past Blainville-Boisbriand in six games to win the President Cup.
Player to watch: Noah Dobson. Scouts will be watching the defenceman closely as he’s projected as a top-10 selection at the NHL draft in June. The 18-year-old tied for second in QMJHL playoff scoring by a defencemen with three goals and 10 assists in 20 games.
Fun fact: Acadie-Bathurst last won the QMJHL title in 1999 — the same season the Titan relocated from Laval, Que.