Flyers Prospect Report: Memorial Cup Update

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers had two participants in the Memorial Cup, taking place this week, and following the six Round-Robin games between the four finalists, both prospects remain as part of the championship round.

Matthew Strome and the Hamilton Bulldogs won two of three Round-Robin games to advance to Friday night's semi-final. German Rubtsov and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan also won two of three games and by virtue of goal differential tiebreakers, advanced automatically to Sunday's Championship Game.

Here's an update on both prospects in their Memorial Cup quests.

Strome and Hamilton played in the first game of the tournament against host Regina and were locked in a 2-2 battle until the final minute of the game when Regina scored to pull out the victory. Strome had one assist and one shot on goal in the loss.

Three nights later, the Bulldogs pulled out a 2-1 win against Swift Current to get into the win column. Strome had just one shot on goal in the game.

The next night, Strome and the Bulldogs faced Rubtsov and the Titan with Hamilton coming away with a 3-2 win. The one-goal victory wasn't enough for Hamilton to get the edge in the tiebreakers, but did lock them into the championship weekend. Strome had an assist and one shot on goal while being a minus-1.

Strome was a fixture of the Hamilton offense all season and over the early part of the OHL Playoffs, but has struggled over the last couple of series. As a whole, he has four goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 23 playoff games.

Rubtsov and the Titan opened the tournament in the second game, defeating Swift Current in overtime, 4-3. Rubtsov had an assist and two shots on goal in the opener.

The next night, Acadie-Bathurst survived a wild affair, taking a 5-1 lead into the third period before hanging on to win, 8-6. Rubtsov again had an assist and one shot on goal in the win.

In the Titan's 3-2 loss to Hamilton, Rubtsov was a plus-1 with one shot on goal.

Rubtsov doesn't play nearly as big a role in the Acadie-Bathurst offense, so the limited numbers shouldn't be a surprise. It is clear he is viewed as a strong two-way forward and his play defensively has been solid throughout the playoffs. But as a first-round pick of the Flyers in 2016, there is a desire to see the offensive side jump out and it just really hasn't been there. 

Rubtsov was a point-per-game player upon arriving in the QMJHL with Chicoutimi last season, posting 22 points and nine goals in 16 games before injuries set in and ended his season early. This season, he had three goals and 11 points in 11 games with Chicoutimi before being traded to Acadie-Bathurst. He scored 12 goals and had 32 points in 38 games with the Titan in the regular season.

So far in the playoffs, Rubtsov has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 22 games.

The semi-final takes place between WHL Champion Hamilton and host Regina at 10 p.m. The Championship Game will be Sunday at 7 p.m. with QMJHL Champion Acadie-Bathurst facing the winner of Friday's game. WHL Champion Swift Current was eliminated with a 6-5 loss to Regina on Wednesday night.

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