Montreal Canadiens: Jan Mysak, Arber Xhekaj Eliminate Kaiden Guhle From Memorial Cup

OSHAWA, ONTARIO - OCTOBER 08: Jan Mysak. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
OSHAWA, ONTARIO - OCTOBER 08: Jan Mysak. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens had three prospects participating in this year’s Memorial Cup tournament. The event puts the three CHL league champions from across Canada against one another as well as a host team in a tournament to crown the top Junior team in the country.

Arber Xhekaj, who signed with the Canadiens after going undrafted to the NHL and Jan Mysak, a second round pick by the Habs in the 2020 NHL Draft are playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Canadiens first round pick Kaiden Guhle is at the tournament with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The two teams featuring Habs prospects got off to tough starts to the event. The Bulldogs lost the opener to the host Saint John Sea Dogs and followed that up with a tight 3-2 loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes.

The Oil Kings also lost to the Cataractes, in a 4-3 game. They would win their second game of the tournament, but it came in overtime. This year’s tournament format hands out three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime victory, and a single point for losing in overtime.

Since the Oil Kings win came in overtime against the Sea Dogs, it still left them in third place heading into last night’s contest with the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were in last place with zero points after starting the tournament with consecutve losses in regulation.

So, the game between the Oil Kings and Bulldogs, and featuring all three Canadiens prospects acted essentially as a quarterfinal game. Xhekaj and Mysak didn’t to win in regulation to advance to the semifinal, and any other result would have seen the Oil Kings moving on to the semifinal game on Monday.

Xhekaj helped get the Bulldogs on the board first as he was playing quarterback on the power play. He moved the puck to Logan Morrison, and then it quickly went down low to Avery Hayes who spun to the front of the net and slid the puck home.

Ryan Winterton extended the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 late in the first period on another power play. The score remained 2-0 until the third period when Jalen Luypen scored a shorthanded goal for the Oil Kings to make things interesting. Keep in mind the Bulldogs needed to win in regulation and get those three points or they were finished.

They got a little breathing room with 6:34 to play in the third period when Mason McTavish wired home a one-timer from the slot to give Hamilton a 3-1 lead. Guhle helped the Oil Kings pull within one with less than three minutes to play.

He was at the point playing the quarterback role with a man advantage and got the puck to an open teammate, Carter Souch, on the wing. He fired a wrist shot that was tipped in front by Jake Neighbours, giving Guhle an assist on the goal.

It was as close as the Oil Kings would get. McTavish scored again into an empty net with just one second to play, with Xhekaj getting an assist, and the Bulldogs move on to the semifinal. They will play the loser of tomorrow’s game between the Sea Dogs and Cataractes.

As for Guhle, that will go down as the last game of his Junior career. He had a terrific season, scoring nearly a point per game, playing a punishing defensive style, winning a WHL championship and being named playoff MVP.

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