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Memorial Cup Showcased ‘Hawks Prospects on Another Big Stage

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First it was the World Junior Championships, where Nolan Allan, Colton Dach, and Kevin Korchinski was gold with soon-to-be Chicago Blackhawks teammate Conor Bedard and Ethan del Mastro. Then it was the Memorial Cup that resulted in a Final appearance.

Though they fell short of winning the Memorial Cup Final, it doesn’t take away from the impressive run they’ve had. The trio of Blackhawks prospects on the Seattle Thunderbirds have added a winning pedigree to their names in a four month span despite that loss. Need not forget, Seattle won the Western Hockey League in dominating fashion. Though they didn’t want to be the runner up, it doesn’t dampen the other accomplishments.

Memorial Cup, World Juniors Experience Invaluable for Blackhawks Prospects

Sure, it’s not the NHL. But winning is winning, and being victorious on the national and international stage where the lights burn bright for kids in their teens, well, it’s a great start.

The Memorial Cup is an event in Canada, and the pinnacle of championships for hockey players all over the country. The loss cannot be minimized because it was a dream for many to get there.

But the loss doesn’t diminish everything Seattle–and the Blackhawks prospects–achieved. To wit:

  • Of the 24 postseason games Seattle played in, Dach, Korchinski or Allan registered a point 21 times.
  • Until the loss to Quebec, two or all of the prospects had points in 11 games–all victories.

But it’s a long postseason run that helps the prospects most. Pressure games with high stakes teaches how to flourish in crunch time while also teaching valuable lessons after mistakes. The growth shown was evident.

One example: Allan’s situational awareness during two instances in the Final. On one, when his pairing partner Jeremy Hanzel was caught pinching, it led to a two-on-one rush the other way. Allan not only cut off the angle, but then corralled the puck near the end boards, patiently waiting to clear it out.

Throwing it to the middle or making too quick of a play leads to a high danger scoring chance with help still rushing down the ice. On the offensive side of the ice, Allan and the Thunderbirds had one of their best chances of the game when the puck ended up on his stick. Instead of shooting into the crowd, Allan fired to the end board, which spat the puck back out in front. Though no one would capitalize, it was a heads up that play that created something out of nothing.

To no one’s surprise, Allan’s efforts earned him Memorial Cup All-Star Team honors.

Known more for his physical play, Dach displayed soft hands and actually had several strong chances early for Seattle. Against Peterborough where he potted the game winner, if not for timely saves, Dach likely skates away with a hat trick.

Finally, Korchinski’s high hockey IQ, namely being in the right place at the right time, only got stronger with each game. Yes, he had mistakes–he is human. But Korchinski’s awareness after mistakes is what sets him apart.

No, they didn’t win the Memorial Cup Final. But the Blackhawks prospects picked up valuable experience that will only help them potentially make their way to Chicago.

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