2016 Mastercard Memorial Cup: Knights surge past the Rebels 6-2 in the tournament’s opening game

Multi-point efforts from Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak led the London Knights to a 6-2 win over the host Red Deer Rebels to open the 98th MasterCard Memorial Cup. Rob Wallator/CHL Images
Multi-point efforts from Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak led the London Knights to a 6-2 win over the host Red Deer Rebels to open the 98th MasterCard Memorial Cup. Rob Wallator/CHL Images

The game started off strong for the Red Deer Rebels.

The first half of the first period was driven by the Rebels and they looked very much into the game. Banging, crashing and taking straight lines to the Knights, they certainly gave the London Knights a warm welcome to what playing WHL hockey is all about.

Both teams traded chances early in the game until Rebel Defender Hayden Fleury got into it after the whistle with Knights Winger Matthew Tkachuk. Despite the fact that the two had been pushing and shoving, the Knights got the last laugh as Fleury was penalized two minutes for roughing.

“We got a good start for the first ten minutes but penalties changed the momentum of our game,” said Rebels Head Coach during his post-game availability. “London was able to regroup and create some offense.”

It didn’t take long for the the Knights to capitalize, as on the powerplay drawn by Tkachuk, Mitch Marner and Tkachuk contributed assists on an Aaron Berisha goal.

From that point on, the Knights began to pour it on the Rebels. Christian Dvorak capitalized on two great set ups in front of the Rebels net in thanks to assists from Olli Juolevi and Mitch Marner on both goals.

Much like the second period, the first chunk of the second was quite even. However, Mitch Marner continued to shine and put the Knights up 4-0 seven minutes into the period.

Marner’s uses his speed and his ability to see the play before it happens gave him the chances to make the Rebels look silly. I always knew Marner was a player, but to have the chance to see him up close you begin to realize how special he is.

Hayden Fleury and Matthew Tkachuk exchange pleasantries during the first period. Fleury took a two minute roughing call on the play. Rob Wallator/CHL Images
Hayden Fleury and Matthew Tkachuk exchange pleasantries during the first period. Fleury took a two minute roughing call on the play. Rob Wallator/CHL Images

“They’re talented and skilled,” said Suter when asked about the performance of the Tkachuk, Dvorak and Marner line.

“When you give them ice and allow them to do things and don’t play a hard game against them, they’re going to dominate you.”

Every time the trio were on the ice, the Knights spent almost all the time in the Rebel end. If teams can’t find a way to shut down this incredibly dominant line it is going to be very difficult to beat the Knights.

Tkachuk, who is the 2nd ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting service, had a solid performance notching one assist alongside 10 shots on net and a +3 rating.

“To start off 1-0 is perfect,” said Tkachuk after the game.

“I hope the other team’s notice that we are here and we are here to win.”

Pair that alongside the stellar play of Knights G Tyler Parsons, and they could very well be the team to beat in this years Memorial Cup.

“Tyler Parsons made some amazing saves even when we had the lead, he kept us in the game,” said Knights head coach Dale Hunter.

“He gave us the momentum in the first ten minutes when Red Deer was putting a lot of pressure. It is a big win for our first game tonight.”

5’10, 174 lb 2016 Draft eligible Knights Defenceman Victor Mete scored a great goal in the second picking up a loose puck in the slot and firing it above Rebel G Rylan Toth.

His speed and offensive awareness could make him an interesting selection in this years draft. Mete led all OHL defencemen with a +53 +/- rating, and is currently rated .

The story behind the game wasn’t the fact that the Knights poured it on the Rebels, but simply the fact that Red Deer was unable to shut down the dynamic line of Matthew Tkachuk, Christian Dvorak and Mitchell Marner.

Every time the trio were on the ice, they spent almost all the time in the Rebel end. Simply put, if teams can’t find a way to shut down this line it is going to be very difficult to find a way to beat the Knights.

Pair that alongside the stellar play of Knights G Tyler Parsons, and they could very well be the team to beat in this years Memorial Cup.

“Tyler Parsons made some amazing saves even when we had the lead, he kept us in the game,” said Knights head coach Dale Hunter.

“He gave us the momentum in the first ten minutes when Red Deer was putting a lot of pressure. It is a big win for our first game tonight.”

I will be in Red Deer for the games over the next week covering the Memorial Cup live, so be sure to follow me on Twitter so you don’t miss a beat.

Zach Laing Written by: