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2017 Memorial Cup recap: Erie Otters set three records vs Saint John Sea Dogs

For Tampa Bay Lightning fans, tonight’s game of the Memorial Cup tournament was the biggest one so far. The 0-1 Saint John Sea Dogs, with Mathieu Joseph and Bokondji Imama, took on the 1-0 Erie Otters, who have Anthony Cirelli, Taylor Raddysh, and Erik Cernak on the ice.

I was going to try and make this about both sets of prospects, but Joseph and Imama will have to wait until the next game. Tonight the Erie Otters set two records themselves, and the Saint John Sea Dogs helped set a third in tonight’s game.

First, the score was 12-5. Final shots were 39-23 for Erie.

The combined score set a new Memorial Cup record for total goals in one game, breaking the old record of 15 set back in 1984 when the Kitchener Rangers defeated the Kamloops Jr Oilers 9-6.

Erie’s 12 goals set a new record for most goals scored by a single team in a game. The previous record as 11, set by the Quebec Remparts over the St. Catharines Black Hawks in 1974 and by the Regina Pats over the Cornwall Royals in 1980.

Dylan Strome set a new record for most points by a single player in a game with seven. The previous record of six was held by several players.

Taylor Raddysh tied the old record with Strome, but only held it for a few minutes.

Taylor Raddysh & Anthony Cirelli

Raddysh and Cirelli are playing like they can read each other’s minds. Passes are caught every time; they know where each other will be on the ice.

They include undrafted line mate Kyle Maskimovich in the fun. This has been the best line of the tournament hands down.

Anthony Cirelli has been stick handling like a God tonight, as if the Saint John players were practice dummies.

An excellent game by the Lightning forwards.

Erik Cernak

The defender has been playing on his lonesome tonight. He’s been a wall at the blue line. Nothing gets out of the Otters zone when he’s at the point, unless it’s on his partner’s side. He’s playing his physical game again, using his body to keep Sea Dogs forwards away from his net.

Mathieu Joseph & Bokondji Imama

These two play on Saint John’s best forward line. They were the starting forwards, and in the first few seconds they rushed the Otters net and Joseph hit the post.

And now, the goals by the prospects.

Full game highlights:

Post Game Q&A’s

Erik Cernak

Q: It was a great game for the Otters tonight. Your play on defense has been just solid. A wall at the blueline, using your physicality. Do you think it’s improved?

A: I try to play my game every game, and play well in the defensive zone. I try to be the best against the top players.

Q: Have you had any interaction with the Lightning this season? Have they recommended training habits or anything?

A: Of course, they talk to me after every game. They tell me what to work on, and where I have to be better. I have to listen to these guys and work and work.

Q: Working with other Lightning prospects, Cirelli, Raddysh, is there any work among you to try and make it there together?

A: Of course it would be nice because we played together this year, and to play together would be nice next year, but every player has his own work to do.

Anthony Cirelli

Q: Your play tonight and in both games this tournament, with Taylor Raddysh and Maksimovich, has been probably one of the top lines I’ve seen in the tournament so far. Has there been any work together, or are you just mind reading out there?

A: I don’t really know what it is. I played with Taylor at the World Juniors, and at Tampa [prospect camps]. We kind of know each other, read off each other. Maxi is an unbelievable player. He’s just easy to play with. He’s fast, he’s strong. He takes pucks to the net. He’s really smart. Playing with two unbelievable players like that, it makes everyone’s jobs easy. I don’t know – I guess know we’re clicking.

Q: You get up a bunch of goals there. Regular season, you let off the gas a little bit. But in the game like that, you can’t. Both teams understand that.

A: Yeah, for sure. Down the road, it could be a goals-for, goals-against tie break situation. So we need to get as many goals as we can and not let in any. Today everything was kind of clicking for us. We got some lucky bounces. They were in the penalty box a lot there too, so we just got to capitalize on our chances.

Q: The transition game is important for you guys, isn’t it? It’s really apparent. It’s like one, two passes and you’re up the ice. Is that something you guys work on?

A: Yeah, we’ll do some drills in practice. Moving the puck quickly and getting it up the ice. We have a lot of skilled players, fast players on the team. We try to get it, give it a go, move it up the ice.

Taylor Raddysh

Raddysh: It was a big start for us. We knew they were going to come out strong. Obviously with that quick goal there [at the beginning of the game], it gave us a lot of momentum. It happened to work out for three periods.

Qu: Do you think your speed caught them [the Sea Dogs] a little off-guard there? It seemed like at times they were just kind of trying to find themselves and you guys were going at it.

A: Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe a little bit, I guess. We were all over the puck tonight. I felt like we played a solid game all around. We were skating hard, it created a lot of turnover for chances.

Q: Has the team’s confidence been this high at all, all year?

A: I guess at some points. We had some pretty good streaks throughout the season, but this is big for us. It’s the biggest tournament of the year. We’re 2-0 right now. We’re feeling pretty good. We’ll be ready to go for the Windsor [Thunderbirds] game.

Q: Do you know about the record you set yet? The team, I mean.

A: Yeah, I heard a little bit about it. I think it was the goals-for. It’s big for us. It’s pretty cool when you do good things like that.

Q: Your brother [Erie Otters defenseman Darren Raddysh] just found out now, so that’s why I asked.

A: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. [smiles]

Q: What was the atmosphere like in the locker room during second intermission, going into the third period with such a big lead when you still had another period to play?

A: We just had to stick with our game. We knew that after the first period, they were going to be coming hard. With our strong second [period] there, we stuck with it and it happened to pay off.

Q: What about you? When was the last time you scored six points in a game?

A: I think it’s maybe my first time in the OHL. I don’t think I’ve gotten six since my minor hockey league times. Yeah, it was the first time doing it here. I was talking to Stromer [fellow Erie Otters forward Dylan Strome] and he was let me it was a tie for record and he happened to break it the next shift there. [smiles]

Q: Did you have a quiet contest on the bench, between you two?

A: No, it was a friendly joke – just to let me know. It was cool for him to get that seventh [point] there.

Q: When was the last time you guys scored 12 goals in a game? Or have you ever?

A: I don’t think so. Not that I know of. I think the highest we’ve had was nine maybe? I really don’t think we’ve gone that high before.

The Erie Otters play the Windsor Spitfires Wednesday night. The winner of that game will finish the round robin 3-0 and receive a bye to the final game.

The Saint John Sea Dogs play the Seattle Thunderbirds tomorrow night. The winner of that game plays the loser of Windsor / Erie in the semi-finals. The loser is eliminated from the tournament.

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