2014 Memorial Cup: Storm’s Finn one win away from fulfilling dream

By Jason Menard

Matt Finn - Guelph Storm

Photo: Guelph Storm defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matt Finn and his Storm teammates will do battle with the Edmonton Oil Kings one more time, this time to decide the winner of the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup (courtesy of CHL Images)

As a four-year member of the Guelph Storm, team captain and Toronto Maple Leafs’ second-rounder Matt Finn has suffered a lot at the collective hands of the three-time OHL champion London Knights.

So how nice is it to be in this position, a game away from hoisting the Memorial Cup, awaiting a date with the Edmonton Oil Kings?

“It’s fantastic. It’s something we wanted to do, something we worked for. It’s something we wanted to accomplish and it’s been really special,” he said. “Especially for the guys who have been here for the long run, and who have been on the brunt-end of the London Knights’ series… it’s nice to get one back.”

And was it special being the team that officially knocked the Knights out of contention?

“Extra special,” he said. “I mean I think our fans and a lot of the other teams in the league were pulling for us to knock them out. As a group we’ve been playing very good hockey. We came in strong for that game and we’re going to do the same on Sunday.”

Finn explained that there’s a misconception that the London Knights get all the breaks from the league. He feels they’ve earned them by winning — a measure of respect that this year’s Storm has earned.

“You don’t get respect unless you win. We’ve been doing that throughout the year,” he said. “Some people say that London has the refs and they pull for them — I don’t believe that. The refs call the game like they see it. Because London has been winning, I think people have been taking that out of hand.

“London’s had a good hockey team for years. They deserved the championships that they’ve won and I think we deserved ours.”

There’s one more championship to add to the collection, though. And with its victory on Wednesday, the Storm assured itself of having a few days off until Sunday’s 4 PM finale of the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup. Finn said the team just has to focus on what got it here.

“We just have to relax…play our game, stick to our systems that have been working, and keep skating," said Finn.

“We’ve just got to do that thing that we do.”

London, ON is pretty much in the heart of Leafs’ country, as is Guelph. So Finn feels the love whenever he plays, but for now he’s Storm through and through.

“The Leafs’ fans are the best in the NHL. Anywhere you can have Leaf fans, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of that organization and that culture of hockey,” he said. “I mean, I don’t think it matters at this point, though. I’m part of the Guelph Storm and that’s where the focus is.”

Finn explained that he feels this championship experience is going to serve him well as he tries to work his way up the NHL ranks.

“It’s great. You play in pressure situations every night. I think it helps you realize what kind of player you are and what kind of character you have. Can you put everything aside and just play the game? That’s not an easy thing to do,” he explained. “Playing in high-pressure scenarios is what it takes to win. We’ve been able to do that in the playoffs so far, and now we’re into the Memorial Cup.

“It’s going to help in the long run: AHL playoffs, NHL playoffs — those games mean a lot. You’ve got to be ready to call upon that past experience to help you.”

With only one game left, has Finn visualized himself raising that Memorial Cup?

“Oh yeah, definitely. If that is how that game ends Sunday, it’ll be nothing but a dream to me,” Finn explained. “It’s a trophy that you hear about and you don’t know too much about because not too many teams get to play for it.

“To get a chance to play for it and get the opportunity to win one is what our city and our team deserves."

Follow Jason Menard's Memorial Cup coverage for HF via @JayCMenard