QUEBEC — Team dinners, sightseeing, a little mini-golf and, of course, practice.
That sums up what the Oshawa Generals have been doing in the five-day break they earned ahead of the Mastercard Memorial Cup final.
The Generals were a perfect 3-0 in round robin play at the four-team tournament, clinching first place and a bye to the final with a 2-1 win over the Western Hockey League champion Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night.
“We had a complete day off just to take a break from the game, physically and mentally,” team captain and Florida Panthers prospect Josh Brown said Friday. “We just hung out, went in the pool a bit, and today we got back to practice.
“It’s been nice having these days off.”
The Ontario Hockey League champions will face the winner of Friday night’s semifinal between the Rockets and the host Quebec Remparts.
The Generals skated for 45 minutes and then went to play mini-golf, which was the best activity coach D.J. Smith could come up with.
“There’s not much you can do where you can’t risk injury,” said Smith. “If these guys play anything and a guy gets hurt, it’s our fault. So we’ve got to do something with the least chance of getting hurt.”
Smith said players spent time with their families and had time to be together as a team, including a visit to Quebec’s picturesque old town and some dinners.
The trick is to have the squad rested and ready for the final.
“There’s no formula for what’s going to make you 100 per cent ready,” he said. “We just do what we’ve done all year.”
Players said they’ve watched some of the games on television, including the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rimouski Oceanic’s 4-0 win over Quebec in the final round-robin game and the Remparts’ 5-2 win over Rimouski in the tiebreaker game.
They planned to pay closer attention to the semifinal to get a look at their next opponent.
Oshawa needed overtime to beat the Remparts 5-4. They were all over Kelowna, holding them to six shots through the opening 30 minutes, but had to hold off a spirited comeback attempt to secure the win. They opened with a 4-3 win over Rimouski on Saturday.
“It was three games in four days,” said forward Tobias Lindberg, who had a goal in each game. “It was a little tough, so were really happy we finished first and we got a couple of days to rest and practice stuff that we think is going to be important in the final.
“We had a nice dinner and celebrated a bit after beating Kelowna, but not too much because we still have the most important game to win.”
New York Islanders first round pick Michael Dal Colle leads the Generals with two goals and three assists in three games with Ottawa prospect Lindberg and Vancouver prospect Cole Cassels have four points each.
The Generals plowed through the OHL playoffs with a 16-5 record, including a five-game win over Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters in the final.
The team that produced Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros, John Tavares and others is seeking it’s first Memorial Cup since 1990 and it’s fifth overall. They won a 13th OHL title this season.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press