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T-Birds still control their own destiny despite 0-2 start at Memorial Cup

The Thunderbirds can secure a spot in the Memorial Cup semi-final with a win on Tuesday (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

Following the Erie Otters’ 12-5 thumping of the Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday evening, the Thunderbirds’ situation becomes abundantly clear: beat Saint John on Tuesday night and you receive an automatic berth in the Memorial Cup semi-final game on Friday. Lose and your season is over.

Both Seattle and Saint John enter Tuesday night in a must-win situation after losing each of their first two games to the Ontario Hockey League’s two representatives, Erie and the Windsor Spitfires. Had Saint John defeated Erie on Monday night it’s possible that Seattle, Erie and Saint John could have all ended up 1-2, creating a tie-breaker situation where a game would need to be played on Thursday in order to advance to the semi-final.

The Otters and Spitfires, both undefeated in the tournament so far, complete the round-robin portion of the Memorial Cup when they face off on Wednesday night. The winner will receive an automatic berth in the tournament’s championship game on Sunday evening. The loser will face the winner of Seattle and Saint John in the semi-final.

The format of the tournament has drawn the ire of many, but it does make every game played meaningful. It’s amazing to think that Seattle, who has yet to put together a performance in the Memorial Cup characteristic of their WHL success, still controls their own destiny. Of course, the same applies for the Sea Dogs, who rolled through the QMJHL playoffs with a 16-2 record but have also struggled in the tournament so far.

Neither Seattle nor Saint John has seen success against their OHL counterparts yet in the tournament. Seattle has been outscored 11-3 after falling in their opener 4-2 to Erie and then 7-1 to Windsor the following night.

Saint John, on the other hand, has been outscored 15-7. They fell to the Spitfires 3-2 after a furious third-period comeback, then had the ugly loss on Monday night.

For both of these teams, none of that matters now. It all comes down to one game to keep your season alive.