Knights can join ranks of all-time greatest junior teams with one more win

Knights can join ranks of all-time greatest junior teams with one more win

It’s been two months since the London Knights have lost a hockey game, an incredible feat considering it’s now late May and no longer December.

The Knights have not only been dispatching so-called elite opponents without fail, they’ve usually done so with ease. After sweeping three consecutive OHL playoff series, the Knights brought a 13-game winning streak to the Memorial Cup in Red Deer, where they’ve tossed aside the supposed best the Canadian Hockey League has to offer. They’ve claimed three victories by a combined score of 20-5 with Mitch Marner continuing to do whatever he wants with the puck.

After losing on the final day of the regular season – a loss that secured the OHL’s second-best record – London has cruised to the Memorial Cup final. And a win there would certainly lock up a place among the most prolific seasons in major junior history.

Before he became a Canadiens legend, Guy Lafleur led one of the best-ever teams in junior hockey history. (Getty)
Before he became a Canadiens legend, Guy Lafleur led one of the best-ever teams in junior hockey history. (Getty)

1971 Quebec Remparts

The line of Guy Lafleur, Michel Briere and Andre Savard was unstoppable – especially on a night in February when they combined for 33 points in a 14-1 win over Rosemont. The trio finished atop the QMJHL scoring list as the Remparts lost just seven times in the regular season. Lafleur, the future Hall of Famer, recorded 43 points in 13 playoff games en route to a league championship. Quebec then dispatched the Edmonton Oil Kings to win the Memorial Cup.

1973 Toronto Marlboros

Led by the likes of Mark and Matry Howe, Bruce Boudreau, Paulin Bordeleau and future Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Mike Palmateer, the Marlboros went 47-7-9 and established an OHL record for fewest losses in a season. While they eventually needed seven games to knock off Peterborough in the final, they blasted the Quebec Remparts 9-1 to win the Memorial Cup.

1977 New Westminster Bruins

The Bruins, with future Vancouver Canucks star Stan Smyl, won four straight WHL titles from 1975 to 1978. The best regular season outfit was the previous season, but 1977 represented the first of back-to-back Memorial Cup titles for the Bruins. The Bruins fell just twice in 14 playoff games after finishing first in the West Division. They eventually beat Ottawa 6-5 to win the national title.

1991 Spokane Chiefs

With all due respect to the glorious Kamloops Blazers teams of the early 1990s, it was the Chiefs who proved to be the most unstoppable force during the playoffs. The Chiefs actually finished five points behind the Blazers in the standings that year, but wiped out Kamloops in five games in the West Division final. The Chiefs would play 15 games in the WHL playoffs and won 14 of them. Ray Whitney was the offensive catalyst, finishing with 185 points in the regular season, plus 31 more in the spring. After three round-robin wins at the Memorial Cup, Spokane capped its championship season with a 5-1 win over Drummondville 5-1 in the final.

2005 London Knights

The 2005 version was loaded thanks to the NHL lockout. Corey Perry, Dave Bolland, Robbie Schremp, Brandon Prust, Dan Girardi, Marc Methot, Danny Syvret & Co. set a league record by going 31 games before losing to start the season. They wound up establishing new marks for wins (59), points (120) and winning percentage (.882). They went 16-2 in the playoffs – same as this year’s team – and were perfect in the Memorial Cup tournament they hosted. Perry won MVP awards in the regular season, playoffs and Memorial Cup, something Marner is also on track to do.

2010 Windsor Spitfires

Either one of the 2009 or 2010 Windsor teams could be on this list. The 2010 outfit gets the nod because it lost one fewer postseason game (three rather than four) and because it demolished the competition at the Memorial Cup. The 2010 Spitfires – which featured future NHLers Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Ryan Ellis and Cam Fowler – won all four games in Brandon, including a 9-1 laugher over the host Wheat Kings in the final. The previous year, the Spits actually lost the first two games of the Memorial Cup tourney before recovering to take the next four. They were the first team turn in that trick.

2013 Halifax Mooseheads

The 2011 Saint John Sea Dogs were just as impressive, but the Mooseheads have a leg up because they lost six just regular season games in regulation rather than seven – resulting in 120 points rather than 119 – and were defeated just once in the playoffs as opposed to three times. And to think, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin were both NHL draft-eligible players that missed time to play in the World Junior Championship, while goaltender Zach Fucale was also 17 to start the season. The Mooseheads actually lost a game in the Memorial Cup to the host Saskatoon Blades, but MacKinnon more than made up for it. He recorded 13 points in four games as the Mooseheads skated to a 6-4 win over Seth Jones and the Portland Winterhawks in the final. MacKinnon’s performance vaulted him to the top of the draft rankings.

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