Before battling one another starting Friday night, the coaches of the four teams participating in the 100th Memorial Cup had a chance to talk about their teams and their hopes for the tournament.
For the Regina Pats, they are the host team and head coach and general manager John Paddock admits he is excited to get the tournament going and have the opportunity to win the 100th Memorial Cup in what is the team’s 100th anniversary season.
While Regina certainly will be the favourite amongst those attending games at the Brandt Centre, it is thought the Swift Current Broncos will be a close second because of the fans they will bring in from nearby Swift Current.
Broncos head coach Manny Vivieros was reluctant to say if that will give his team a “home-ice” advantage as well.
“I wouldn’t say it is a home-ice advantage, but we do know we will have fan support.” Vivieros said. “Having support with us is nice, but I think you could ask all four teams, we are just excited to be a part of the tournament and I don’t think it matters where you play.”
Hamilton Bulldogs coach John Gruden says his team is excited to get to Regina after knocking off the top team in the Canadian Hockey League to win the Ontario League final as they beat Sault Ste. Marie in six games.
“We had a tough series against a really good opponent. We knew we had to be at our best and we were up to the challenge,” Gruden said. “We have to reset now and get ready for a different format as we get ready to meet Regina. All in all, our team is resilient and we will just keep doing what we did in the playoffs and work extremely hard. We know we will be in a hostile environment Friday and we have to make sure we are prepared.”
Gruden and Marlo Pouliot, the head coach of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, were asked about whether or not fatigue will be a factor after winning their respective league championships on Sunday and having to travel across the country for games that start Friday.
Pouliot is hoping that will not be a factor.
“We have had meetings and will have meetings before we get on the ice.” Pouliot said. “We were happy with the way the guys skated here today so I think they are emotionally ready and physically ready to compete.”
All teams practice at the Brandt Centre today with the first game going Friday night at 8 when the Pats meet Hamilton.