The London Knights entered their 40th season never having been to a Memorial Cup tournament.
However, they knew they would play in the 2005 event because they were to be the host team at the John Labatt Centre. The players, though, wanted to go in as OHL champions.
That is exactly what happened. The Knights went 59-7-2 in the regular season, then stormed through the OHL playoffs, going 16-2 and taking out the Ottawa 67’s in the final.
As the OHL runner-up, the 67’s were in the Memorial Cup, along with the Rimouski Oceanic and Kelowna Rockets. The Oceanic’s roster included Sidney Crosby in his final junior season; the Rockets were the defending champions.
The 2005 tournament came in for increased media scrutiny because of Crosby’s presence and because of the NHL having lost its 2004-05 season to a lockout.
Really, all eyes were on London and Rimouski as the tournament started. London had started its season with a 31-game unbeaten streak; it also had been the CHL’s top-ranked team for the entire season. Rimouski, meanwhile, finished the regular season on a 28-game unbeaten streak, then won seven straight to open the playoffs. The Oceanic had lost one of its previous 41 games when it arrived in London.
It was only fitting, then, that those two teams should open and close the 2005 Memorial Cup.
On May 21, London beat Rimouski, 4-3, in overtime. The Oceanic led 3-1 after the first period, but lost it on defenceman Marc Methot’s goal at 9:38 of OT.
London, under head coach Dale Hunter, went 3-0 in the round-robin, beating Kelowna, 4-2, and Ottawa, 5-2. Kelowna, under head coach Jeff Truitt, was the defending champion, but went 0-3 — losing 3-2 in double OT to the 67’s and 4-3 to the Oceanic — and was eliminated.
That left Rimouski (2-1) and Ottawa (1-2) to meet in the semifinal.
On May 28, Doris Labonte’s Oceanic beat Brian Kilrea’s 67’s, 7-4, behind three goals and two assists from Crosby. His linemates contributed, as Dany Roussin had four assists, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored a goal and added two assists.
Crosby led the tournament in goals (6) and points (11).
The next day, the Knights, after two days off, got goals from four players — Dan Fritsche, Bryan Rodney, Dave Bolland and Rob Schremp — and 27 saves from goaltender Adam Dennis as they beat the Oceanic, 4-0. Dennis had been with the Guelph Storm the previous year at the tournament in Kelowna.
Corey Perry, who led London with seven points, four of them goals, was named the tournament’s MVP.
In making the trophy presentation to Perry, David Branch, the CHL president, said: “The London Knights are one of the greatest junior teams ever to play.”
Danny Syvret, London’s captain, added: “We were No. 1 all year and to finish on top is amazing.”
2005 London Knights:
Josh Beaulieu, David Bolland, Gerald Coleman, Adam Dennis, Robbie Drummond, Steve Ferry, Jordan Foreman, Danny Fritsche, Daniel Girardi, Dylan Hunter, Trevor Kell, Drew Larman, Ryan Martinelli, Matt McCready, Marc Methot, Adam Perry, Corey Perry, Brandon Prust, Frank Rediker, Harrison Reed, Bryan Rodney, Robbie Schremp, Danny Syvret, Kelly Thomson, Jeff Whitfield, Mark Hunter (general manager), Dale Hunter (coach).
NHL: Bolland won the Stanley cup with Chicago in both 2010 and 2013. Perry has put up a Hall of Fame worthy NHL career, winning the Stanley Cup with the Anahiem Ducks in 2007 while being award the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP and the Rocket Richard Trophy for his league leading 50 goals in 2010-11. Dale Hunter played 20 years in the NHL for Quebec, Washington, and Colorado, amassing over 1000 career points. Mark Hunter won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989.