Although there may be many big games in his future, Airdrie's Jake Neighbours is likely headed into the most important games of his hockey career to date.
Neighbours, the captain of the Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings, leads his team into the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament starting tomorrow (June 20) in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The tourney also features the host Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the QMJHL champion Shawinigan Cataractes and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) winners, the Hamilton Bull Dogs.
The Oil KIngs defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds four games to two to claim the WHL championship and move on to the Memorial Cup, emblematic of the best junior hockey team in Canada.
In his 19 WHL playoff games in 2022, Neighbours registered three goals and 14 assists after a regular season where he scored 17 goals and 28 assists for 45 points in 30 games.
The 2021-2022 hockey season has already been a memorable one for the 20-year-old Airdronian. He went through training camp with the NHLs St. Louis Blues, the team that chose him in the first round of the 2020 draft. He started the season with the Blues where he played nine games and scored his first NHL goal.
Neighbours was later selected to play for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships in December. That tourney was cancelled after just a few games by COVID-19 but is re-scheduled for August 9 - 20 for Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The opening game of the Memorial Cup will feature the host Sea Dogs taking on the OHL champion Bull Dogs on Monday night. The first game for Edmonton will be Tuesday night against the QMJHL champion Shawinigan Cataractes.
The Oil KIngs meet Saint John on Wednesday night and finish off the round robin portion on Friday when they face the Bull Dogs. All of the round robin games, with the exception of the final one between the Cataractes and Sea Dogs, start at 4:00 pm and will be broadcast on TSN. The last round robin contest gets underway at 2:00 pm.
If a tie-breaker is needed, it will go Sunday, June 26th at 2:00 pm. The semi-final is scheduled for 4:00 pm, Monday, June 27th with the final going at 4:00 pm, Wednesday, June 29th. All times are Mountain time.
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