The conquerors of the Kraken are no more. The Dallas Stars were ousted on Monday night by the Vegas Golden Knights, a Pacific Division team that moved on to the Stanley Cup Final with a 6-0 victory in Game-6 of the Western Conference Final.
The Stars eliminated the Kraken in seven games one round earlier.
The loss wasn’t unexpected as the Stars were attempting to climb a very difficult mountain. Only four times in Stanley Cup playoff history has a team come back from down 3-0 in games to win a best-of-7 series. That’s what Dallas was trying to pull off after losing the first three games of the series and then winning the next two.
The Golden Knights came out flying and determined, lighting the lamp three times in the first period on Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger and finishing the game with about five times the amount of scoring chances.
Vegas will take on the Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers in Game-1 starting on Saturday night at “The Fortress” on the strip. One of these franchises will be hoisting the Stanley Cup for the very first time. The Panthers lost the Final to the Colorado Avalanche in four games back in 1996 and the Golden Knights lost in their inaugural season to the Washington Capitals in five games in 2018.
It’ll also be the first Cup win for one of the veteran head coaches, Paul Maurice of the Panthers or Bruce Cassidy of the Golden Knights. Both have reached the Final on one previous occasion. Maurice’s Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Final in five games in 2002 while Cassidy’s Boston Bruins dropped the championship to the St. Louis Blues in seven games in 2019.
Thunderbirds Don’t Fly
The Quebec Remparts, champions of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, beat the Western League champion Seattle Thunderbirds 3-1 on Monday night in the round robin portion of the 2023 Memorial Cup in Kamloops, British Columbia.
It was the second game of the tournament for both teams.
The Remparts had previously beaten the host Blazers on Friday 8-3 in the opening match of the competition. The T-Birds handled the Ontario League’s Peterborough Petes 6-3 the next night.
Remparts goalie William Rousseau was one of the difference makers against Seattle, stopping 35 of 36 shots. Thomas Milic stopped 19 of 21 at the other end.
The other star for Quebec, forward Théo Rochette, who scored the first two goals of the game. His initial tally came just 54-seconds into the match, his second one, the game winner, at the 16:55 mark of the 3rd period. There was a whole lot of goaltending going on in-between.
Defenseman Nolan Allan, a 1st-round pick for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021, scored the lone goal for Seattle, his second straight game lighting the lamp. It came at 17:38 of the 3rd period before Quebec put it away with an empty-netter with eighteen seconds remaining.
The Remparts will own the top seed at the event with a win over the Petes on Tuesday. The Thunderbirds wrap up the round robin against the Blazers on Wednesday.
Team USA Dominates
It’s called para-hockey these days, previously known in various countries as sled hockey or sledge hockey, but if you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.
I can tell you first hand that it takes a hell of an effort to play and that para-players are remarkable. I’ve been around it, tried it, did play-by-play of an international match in Canada a few years back and have covered the World Championships.
This year’s version is taking place right now in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and if you tune in, you’ll find it surprisingly fast and shockingly physical. The United States has won five of the last seven Worlds, including when the tournament was last played in 2021 in the Czech Republic. The Americans have also won the last four Paralympic Golds.
Speaking of Czechia, that’s who Team USA beat Monday 7-1 to open this year’s preliminary round.
The US plays Korea today (Tuesday) with faceoff set for 2:00 PM pacific time, and can be viewed live on the Paralympics’ YouTube channel, by clicking HERE.
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