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Save-On-Foods Presents: Memorial Cup Memories With Jonathon Blum

13 years have passed since Jonathon Blum and his Vancouver Giants teammates captured the 2007 Memorial Cup in front of 16,281 fans at the Pacific Coliseum on May 27, 2007. It’s a memory that’s forever etched in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to live the experience.

For Jonathon Blum, his hockey career has taken him to some unique places including:  The NHL playoffs, Olympic Games (2018), The World Juniors and Europe. But even after 13 years and several other notable chapters in his hockey journey, the 2007 Memorial Cup victory remains a top highlight.’ While you read, you can listen to Jon Blum describe the journey right here:

 

 

The Vancouver Giants in conjunction with Save-On-Foods are proud to share Jonathon Blum’s “Memorial Cup Memories”.SOFLogo_NoTagline_Green_BlackOutline_CMYK

The 2006-2007 Regular Season/Playoffs:

Fresh off a league championship victory in a trip to the 2006 Memorial Cup in Moncton, Blum and his teammates knew that they were in for a challenge in 2006-07. There’s a pressure and an expectation that comes with hosting Junior Hockey’s ultimate tournament and as Jonathon Blum explains, the Giants knew that every single time they took the ice that season that they had a target on their backs:

“It was definitely an intense season. We had been to the Memorial Cup the year before and that year we knew we were going to be there no matter what. We didn’t want to have an embarrassing year. We wanted to have a strong year and a strong finish. We had a target on our back for sure, but we were a really good team and teams were scared to come into the Pacific Coliseum on a Friday night, knowing what they were going to go up against.”

After finishing with the B.C. Division’s top record that season, the Giants earned their second consecutive berth in the WHL championship series after knocking off Chilliwack, Seattle and Prince George in three separate five-game series.

On the other side of the league, the Medicine Hat Tigers survived a first-round scare against Red Deer and then earned quick series victories against Regina and Calgary in order to punch their ticket to the WHL Finals. Because the Giants were hosting the Memorial Cup, the Tigers knew they were Memorial Cup bound even before the Giants and Tigers battled in an epic seven-game 2007 WHL Championship series.

The Medicine Hat Tigers would capture the 2007 WHL Championship series against Vancouver thanks to a goal in double-overtime by Brennan Bosch in Game 7. A heartbreaking result for Vancouver, but fortunately there were still a few chapters of the Medicine Hat/Vancouver story still to be written.

Welcome to the 2007 Memorial Cup:

It was go time. The Vancouver Giants rolled out the welcome mat for the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL), Plymouth Whalers (OHL) and the Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL). As Jonathon Blum recalls, the Giants coaching staff had a plan in place to ensure that the team would remain focused despite the distractions that could potentially come with hosting the event.

“Our preparation made all of the difference. Even on off days we would go to the rink and we would watch the other teams play. We’d watch the game on TV and talk about it. A lot of us had been to the Memorial Cup the year before so we knew what to expect from the early games and being on national television. But Don and our coaches made sure that our immediate focus remained on hockey, and not having to entertain our families who were all in town watching. It was just another thing that they were prepared for.”

May 18th, 2007: Vancouver 4 – Plymouth 3 (OT)

Kenndal McArdle scored 5:06 into the first overtime to lift the Giants to a 4-3 victory in their Memorial Cup opener. Milan Lucic added two second period goals for the G-Men while Spencer Machacek opened the scoring on a first period power play. James Neal had two goals in response for Plymouth.

May 20th, 2007: Vancouver 2 – Lewiston 1

Two days later the Giants earned a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Lewiston. David Perron put the Maineiacs up 1-0 with a first period goal, but Kenndal McArdle tied the game on a power play at 8:52 of the third period. Then with only 4:13 remaining in the third, Wacey Rabbit scored to give the G-Men the 2-1 lead and a 2-0 record in the Memorial Cup.

May 23, 2007: Medicine Hat 1 – Vancouver 0

A power play goal from Derek Dorsett late in the second period was the only goal of the game as Medicine Hat punched their ticket to the Memorial Cup Final. If the Giants were going to get their revenge on the Tigers, they would have to win their semi-final matchup against either Lewiston or Plymouth.

May 25, 2007: Vancouver 8 – Lewiston 1

In front of nearly 14,000 strong at the Pacific Coliseum the Giants scored twice in the first, and three times each in the second and third periods en route to an 8-1 route of the Maineiacs in the tournament Semi-Final. James Wright and Michal Repik each scored twice for the Giants who were now on a collision course once again with their rivals from Medicine Hat.  This time to determine the CHL’s national champion.

May 27, 2007: Vancouver 3 – Medicine Hat 1

Jonathon Blum vividly remembers the hours leading up to the 2007 Memorial Cup championship game:

“It was an afternoon game. I remember pulling up on our team bus and the fans were outside the rink greeting us and cheering us on as we made our way to the rink. “Good luck. Go get ’em. Go win a championship.” When we got to the rink we knew it was all business, and we especially wanted to put our best effort forward for the 20-year-olds on our team. The atmosphere of that entire day is something that 17-year-old me will never forget.”

The Shift:

Not long after the puck had dropped, eventual Memorial Cup MVP Milan Lucic set the tone early for the Giants with this sequence that had the Pacific Coliseum in a frenzy.

At the time, Jonathon Blum had no idea that he had just witnessed one of junior hockey’s most noteworthy viral videos.

“At that point in the game we were still testing each other out. There wasn’t a whole lot happening until Milan came onto the ice. That shift made it real. We’re here. We’re going to win this title. It got the crowd into it, it got us into it. We got pretty fired up after that.”

The Giants outshot the Tigers 17-5 in the first period, but the score was knotted at 0-0 through 20 minutes.

At 6:07 of the second period, Mario Bliznak buried a rebound to push the Giants ahead 1-0. But late in the middle frame Darren Helm answered for Medicine Hat to make it 1-1. The shots through two periods were 29-13 for Vancouver, but the score was tied.

Blum and his teammates remained confident in their approach, despite the 1-1 score:

“We prided ourselves on playing defense first and we knew we had to be at our best defensively. We held them to 15 shots for the entire game. We had a plan going into the game and we executed it. At the other end we finished with 40 shots, and that was all a part of our plan. It was always our goal to get 15 shots and 20 hits per period, and eventually we felt that if we kept coming we’d wear them out. You look at Repik’s game winning goal, it was a wrap-around and it wasn’t pretty but it was just a matter of getting the puck on the net and we were fortunate to get that goal when we did.”

At 15:05 of the final period, Michal Repik’s wrap-around attempt found its way through the legs of goaltender Matt Keetley, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead. Then with the Tigers net empty, Spencer Machacek officially clinched the Giants championship with an empty-net goal.

The Celebration:

(Footage credit to Rogers Sportsnet)

Forever Bonded by a Championship:

14 players (including Jonathon Blum) from the 2006-07 Vancouver Giants team would go on to play games in the NHL. The 2007 Memorial Cup victory remains one of the crowning achievements for a franchise that is set to enter its 20th season in the Western Hockey League. As time continues to march on, the stories from 2007 will continued to be shared and celebrated by those who experienced the triumphant highs and devastating lows which all culminated in one of the greatest hockey celebrations that Vancouver has had.

To this day, Jonathon Blum is the all-time assists leader for the Giants, and is the franchise’s top scoring defenceman.

“Vancouver is special to me. It’s still my second home. I learned a lot, and met a lot of great people. I’m looking forward to bringing my family there one day and showing them where I played and where I grew up. The organization surrounded each other with the best people from the top to the bottom. Everyone was tremendous. You meet life-long friends and you make memories that you’ll never forget.”

Jonathon Blum is entering his second season with Färjestad in the Swedish Hockey League. His pro hockey career has now spanned 12 seasons and included 110 games in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild. Blum represented the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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