Memorial Cup Preview: Montreal Canadiens Prospect Owen Beck Battles London Knights For Finals Berth

Owen Beck and the Saginaw Spirit have a chance to clinch Memorial Cup Final berth when they take on the London Knights on Wednesday night.
Owen Beck Saginaw Spirit
Owen Beck Saginaw Spirit / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

Owen Beck and the Saginaw Spirit are 2-0-0, winning games against Moose Jaw and Drummondville. Beck had a goal and an assist in the tournament opener, but was held scoreless in Game 2 against Drummondville. Beck is looking to improve on his Memorial Cup totals from last season, where he had just a goal and two assists in five games. Beck is the most experienced player on the roster, as this will be the eighth Memorial Cup game of his career. The Memorial Cup isn't the only tournament where Beck has experience, as he has eight career games and a gold medal at the World Juniors. Beck's experience is the main reason the Spirit acquired him, and they'll need it in this deciding game against the London Knights.

The London Knights are also 2-0-0 after beating Moose Jaw and Drummondville, led by draft-eligible Sam Dickinson and top prospects like Oliver Bonk and Easton Cowan. The Spirit are familiar with the Knights, as they were the team that eliminated Saginaw in the OHL Playoffs semifinal. The scenario is simple after Moose Jaw defeated Drummondville on Tuesday night. The winner of this game will head to the Memorial Cup Final on Sunday night, while the loser takes on Moose Jaw in the semifinal on Friday. Drummondville is eliminated from the tournament after an 0-3-0 showing.

The Spirit and Knights are the only teams familiar with each other in the Memorial Cup, so let's look back at their playoff series this season.

OHL Playoffs Semifinal: London 4 - Saginaw 2

The London Knights kicked off the OHL semifinals by winning back-to-back games at Budweiser Gardens 3-1. London was a runaway train all season, and it wouldn't have surprised anyone if they swept the Spirit like they'd go on to do in the OHL Final. However, backed by their raucous home fans, Saginaw made the series interesting by winning 6-2 in Game 3. They couldn't replicate the success in Game 4, as the Knights took a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Saginaw stole Game 5 on the road and was feeling good heading back home to possibly force a deciding Game 7. The Knights jumped on them early in Game 6 with a goal from Easton Cowan, and despite the Spirit evening the game at 1-1 and 2-2 at points, the Knights scored two unanswered goals in the third period to take the 4-2 victory.

The Spirit should have no trepidations in facing the Knights, as they stayed competitive in every game. They were the Knights' most valiant competitors in the playoffs and showed plenty of reasons why they could steal a victory in this game and advance to the Memorial Cup Final. The Spirit's 2-0-0 record can be attributed to the home-ice advantage from their sold-out building, and it will surely be rocking for this de-facto semifinal game.

"“You don’t realize watching the Memorial Cup from the outside how big home ice advantage is, when you’ve got 5,000 Spirit fans in the building cheering you on, you draw energy from that and with how loud they’ve been it juices the guys up.”"

2024 NHL Draft Prospect Zayne Parekh

Owen Beck was a big reason why the Spirit made the OHL semifinal interesting. After starting the series scoreless and a -2, Beck had two goals and two assists over the final four games. Beck will need to be a factor in this game to send the Spirit to the final.