The 2010 Memorial Cup opened and closed the same way — with the OHL-champion Windsor Spitfires scoring a decisive victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Spitfires, the defending champions who had won the 2009 title in Rimouski, got the 2010 event started with a 9-3 victory over Brandon on May 14.
On May 23, the outcome was the same as Windsor posted a 9-1 victory over Brandon in the championship game.
In between, the Spitfires, with Bob Boughner in his fourth season as head coach, didn’t do anything to dent their claim as the CHL’s top team. They were 3-0 in the round-robin, outscoring the opposition, 19-8. None of the other four teams, including the Mike Williamson-coached Calgary Hitmen and Danny Flynn’s Moncton Wildcats, scored as many goals or surrendered fewer.
However, the Spitfires didn’t win it all without surviving a real scare in the opening game’s early moments when forward Taylor Hall, the tournament MVP in 2009, went awkwardly into the end boards and looked to be seriously hurt.
“I thought he was done,” Windsor forward Adam Henrique said.
Hall was chasing a loose puck into the Brandon zone when he was bumped by Wheat Kings defenceman Travis Hamonic.
“It was a pretty scary thought there for a second,” said Hall, who emerged with a bloody nose and a cut to his forehead. “I went in pretty hard and my neck kind of snapped back. Fortunately, I was OK — I’m a pretty flexible kid, and I was able to come out of it OK.”
Hall bounced back to score two of Windsor’s five first-period goals, and later would again be named the tournament’s MVP after leading it in goals (5) and points (9).
In its other round-robin games, Windsor beat Calgary, 6-2, and Moncton, 4-3, in overtime.
On May 23, Hall had a goal and two assists, and Henrique had two goals and an assist, as Windsor whipped the Wheat Kings again, this time in the championship game.
“It’s just such an incredible feeling,” Hall said. “I’ll have this feeling for a long time. For those last 10 minutes, I just kind of reminisced about my whole junior career.”
The Spitfires were the eighth team to successfully defend their title, the first since the Kamloops Blazers in 1995. Having won the last four games in Rimouski, Windsor finished 2010 on an eight-game Memorial Cup winning streak.
It certainly wasn’t the finish that Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, general manager and head coach, would have liked.
“We lost to a very good team,” McCrimmon said, “so give credit where credit is due . . . Windsor demonstrated throughout their four games that they were the best team in the tournament, by far.”
Still, McCrimmon had brought the tournament to the Wheat City and later was honoured by the city’s chamber of commerce, which presented him with the 2011 President’s Award as Business Person of the Year.
2010 Windsor Spitfires:
Marc Cantin, Mark Cundari, Craig Duininck, Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler, Philipp Grubauer, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Stephen Johnston, Zack Kassian, Derek Lanoue, Dale Mitchell, Greg Nemisz, Troy Passingham, Saverio Posa, Kenny Ryan, Justin Shugg, Scott Timmins, Adam Wallace, Eric Wellwood, James Woodcroft, Harry Young, Warren Rychel (general manager), Bob Boughner (coach)
NHL: Fowler was selected to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game as part of the rookie team. Hall has been selected for 3 NHL All-Star teams including the rookie team in 2011 and the full team in 2016 and 2018. Rychel won a Stanley Cup in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche and played 8 NHL seasons with 5 different teams. Boughner played 630 NHL games across 12 seasons with 6 different teams. In 2017 he was named the Head Coach of the Florida Panthers.