For the first time in 26 years, the Memorial Cup presented by Kia will be hosted south of the border when next year the championship of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) will be held in Saginaw, Michigan.
Although American cities have hosted the Memorial Cup on four separate occasions in the event’s 104-year history, never before has an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) American city held this prestigious tournament.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. PST, a press conference will be held at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw and be streamed live on CHL TV.
“We are thrilled to bring the Memorial Cup to the state of Michigan for the first time in the event’s history,” said CHL President Dan MacKenzie. “The Spirit and City of Saginaw submitted a remarkable bid and we have no doubt that they will do an outstanding job of hosting our CHL championship next year.”
Having arrived in Saginaw in 2002, the Spirit would be set to participate in their first-ever Memorial Cup next season. Over the last two decades, the three-time OHL West Division champions have seen over 55 of their players drafted by NHL teams, including Cole Perfetti, Filip Hronek, Owen Tippett, Brandon Saad and Vincent Trocheck, whose number 89 is the lone uniform retired by the Spirit franchise.
“On behalf of Dick Garber and the Saginaw Spirit franchise, we are grateful to the Memorial Cup Selection Committee. It is an honor for the community of Saginaw and the 400,000 people that call the Great Lakes Bay Region home to be the host of the 2024 Memorial Cup,” added Craig Goslin, President and Managing Partner of the Saginaw Spirit. “Saginaw is both honored and prepared. We respect and understand the significance that the Memorial Cup has in Canadian culture and we plan to illustrate this respect and honor throughout the event.
“It is our intent, that when it is completed, the CHL, all visiting players, staff, sponsors, fans and stakeholders, will leave by saying: ‘that was an exceptionally managed Memorial Cup and we had a fabulous experience.’”
Led by General Manager Dave Drinkill and Head Coach Chris Lazary, the Saginaw Spirit finished the 2022-23 season with a 36-27-3-2 record and will face off against the in-state rival Flint Firebirds in the first round of the OHL Playoffs beginning tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. EST / 4:05 p.m. PST on CHL TV. On the ice, the Spirit are highlighted by Exceptional Status forward Michael Misa, whose 56 points (22G, 34A) this past season were the most by an OHL rookie. The first pick of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection also averaged 1.24 points-per-game this season — the highest of any OHL Exceptional Status player and ahead of John Tavares’ 1.18 points-per-game average with the Oshawa Generals in 2005-06.
In addition to the 16-year-old Misa, the Spirit are filled with quality talent which includes team scoring leader Hunter Haight (a 2022 NHL second-round selection by the Minnesota Wild), Zayne Parekh (his 21 goals this season were the most by a 16-year-old defenceman in OHL history) and Matyas Sapovaliv, a Vegas Golden Knights second-round pick who scored a team-high 27 goals this season.
The Memorial Cup is one of the most coveted trophies in hockey. First awarded in 1919, in remembrance of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in the First World War, the Memorial Cup was rededicated to the memory of all fallen Canadian Military Personnel in 2010.
Next year, in Saginaw, the Memorial Cup will be awarded for the 104th time in its history. The Spirit will be one of four teams to participate in the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Kia alongside the playoff champion from each of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), and Western Hockey League (WHL). All games from the 2024 Memorial Cup will be nationally televised in Canada by TSN and RDS as well as on NHL Network in the United States.
The 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia is scheduled to take place in less than two months, running from May 25 – June 4 in Kamloops, British Columbia. Viewers can watch all the action from this year’s CHL championship on NHL Network in the United States, along with TSN and RDS in Canada.
• An American City hasn’t hosted the Memorial Cup since Spokane held the honour in 1998 (which is where the Portland Winterhawks won their second & most recent Memorial Cup)
• American cities have hosted the Memorial Cup four times in the event’s 104-year history and all of them have been in the United States Pacific Northwest (Portland – 1983 & 1986;Seattle – 1992;Spokane – 1998)
• The first time an American city held the Memorial Cup was in 1983, when Portland both hosted the event & became the first non-Canadian based team to win the Memorial Cup