2013 Memorial Cup Preview: Impressive collection of talent competing for CHL’s top prize

by Jason Menard
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Ty Rattie - Portland Winterhawks

Photo: Portland Winterhawks forward and St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie has continued his scoring exploits in the 2012-13 post-season, helping the Winterhawks make the Memorial Cup Tournament after near misses the past two years (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The puck drops for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup starting Friday evening at 6 PM CST. The host city’s Saskatoon Blades take on the Ontario Hockey League champion London Knights to kick off a tournament that features the CHL’s three top-ranked clubs (and the unranked hosts). In addition, several highly-ranked 2013 prospects plus many well-regarded NHL prospects will be taking part in this tournament.

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Ekblad transitioning from exceptional status to leadership role

by Jason Menard
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Aaron Ekblad - Barrie Colts

Photo: Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been effective during his team’s run to the OHL Championship series (courtesy of CHL Images)

There are those who wonder if the Ontario Hockey League is being too liberal with its application of Exceptional Player status. But for the now-17-year-old defenseman who was the second to burst through those now-open floodgates, the key to exceptional status is the ability to be a normal, functioning, part of a junior team.

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2013 U18 WJC: Zach Nastasiuk, Canada

by Chapin Landvogt
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Zach Nastasiuk - Owen Sound Attack

Photo: Owen Sound Attack forward Zach Nastasiuk has followed up a solid sophomore season in the OHL with a gold medal win at the 2013 U18 World Juniors (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

While Team Canada seemingly rode the gifted talent of forward Connor McDavid to their gold medal win over the USA at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, there were contributions right down the roster over the course of this tournament.

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2013 U18 WJC Video: Connor McDavid, Laurent Dauphin, and Sam Reinhart, Canada

by Chapin Landvogt
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Team Canada - 2013 U18 World Junior Championship Gold Medal Game

Photo: Team Canada strikes the traditional championship team pose after going undefeated at the 2013 U18 WJC to win the gold medal (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)

If it's Russia, it must mean gold for Canada at the U18 World Junior Championship as, for the third time on Russian soil, the Canadians once again came away with this tournament's top prize after defeating Team USA, 3-2, in the gold medal game.

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2013 U18 WJC Video: Connor McDavid, Canada

by Chapin Landvogt
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Connor McDavid - Erie Otters

Photo: Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid’s first OHL season was a personal success, and he has carried over that performance to the 2013 U18 WJC (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Hype is nothing new to Team Canada's Connor McDavid as it has followed him since he was granted exceptional player status as a 15-year-old, which allowed him to compete in the OHL one year earlier than other players in his age group.

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