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Biggest prize in Canadian junior hockey up for grabs with Memorial Cup return

After a three-year wait, the biggest prize in major junior hockey is once again up for grabs.

The host Saint John Sea Dogs entertain league champions from Edmonton, Hamilton and Shawinigan, Que., in the 2022 Memorial Cup started Monday and ending when a new winner is crowned June 29.

The last two Memorial Cup tournaments were scrapped due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies last captured the championship in May 2019 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

“No one foresaw what COVID would bring us, but it is just great to be back and heading toward a bit of a normal execution of the Memorial Cup,” said Canadian Hockey League president Dan MacKenzie.

The Sea Dogs opened the round robin Monday when they hosted the Ontario Hockey League champion Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the Shawinigan Cataractes — Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions for the first time — are the other teams.

Edmonton’s deep roster features four first-round NHL draft picks who skated with Canada’s world junior team, counting the WHL playoffs most valuable player Kaiden Guhle, He was Montreal’s top pick, 16th overall, in the 2020 draft.

Guhle, Edmonton captain Jake Neighbours (taken 26th overall by St. Louis in 2020), forward Dylan Guenther (Arizona’s ninth-overall pick in 2021) and goaltender Sebastian Cossa (Detroit’s first selection, 15th overall, in 2021) helped lift the Oil Kings to a 50-14-4 mark during the regular season.

The Oil Kings, No. 2 in the CHL’s final year-end rankings, claimed the WHL title with victories over Lethbridge, Red Deer, top-ranked Winnipeg and Seattle. They return to the Memorial Cup for the first time since winning it in 2014.

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