Kelowna impresses in Memorial Cup opener
Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers each had a goal and two assists on Friday as the Kelowna Rockets kicked off the 2009 Memorial Cup with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over host Rimouski Oceanic.
Ian Duval and Lucas Bloodoff also scored for the Western Hockey League champions in the game at Le Colisee in Rimouski, Que.
Mark Guggenberger lost his shutout bid with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period and finished with 12 saves.
"You always want to have a good start and that's what we did," said Myers, a Buffalo Sabres prospect. "We have to keep doing that, but also make sure we play a full 60 minutes."
Philippe Cornet was the only Rimouski player to beat Guggenberger. Oceanic goalie Maxim Gougeon was heroic in defeat, finishing with 29 saves, several of them impressive stops.
The Rockets, who resumed playing after a six-day layoff, will get another rest before playing on consecutive nights beginning Monday.
Kelowna is making its fourth appearance at the tournament since 2003. The franchise won the Memorial Cup in 2004.
The tournament resumes on Saturday afternoon when Quebec champs the Drummondville Voltigeurs take on the Windsor Spitfires, who prevailed in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
The host team will have a tough task against the champions of the three leagues. Rimouski finished sixth overall in the Quebec regular season standings and hadn't played in 21 days after being swept in the semifinals by Drummondville.
Gougeon kept his team in the game as long as he could, with Kelowna taking 14 of the game's first 16 shots.
Rimouski played without veteran defencemen Maxime Ouimet and Ryan Kavanagh, who have both taken ill in recent days
"Using two young defencemen wasn't easy, but that's not an excuse," said coach Clement Jodoin. "We were lucky it was only 1-0 after the first period."
The opening goal came just after coincidental minor penalties lapsed, with Myers firing a shot from the bottom of the left circle at 6:33 of the first.
Kelowna scored two goals in 79 seconds early in the second to help cruise to the outcome.
Benn got his goal on the power play at 4:33, after a Myers blast was saved by Gougeon. The rebound squirted in the opposite direction to Benn alone at the side of a half-empty net.
Calgary Flames prospect Mikael Backlund helped make it 3-0 when he lifted a pass past Rimouski defenders to Duval, who sped down the left side and beat Gougeon to the glove side.
Two-man advantaged wasted
The Oceanic were given an opportunity to claw back into the game late in the second with a two-man advantage, but could not convert on the power play.
"Our power play was good, but I was more impressed with our penalty killing, especially [on the] 5-on-3," Myers said. "But we've got to be more disciplined."
Tyson Barrie, son of Tampa Bay Lighting owner Len Barrie, helped make it 4-0 very early in to the third with his shot on net. Bloodoff was credited with the goal, which occurred with heavy traffic in front of Gougeon.
Gougeon didn't lose his focus, stopping Bloodoff in close and then making a stupendous glove save on Benn who, along with Colin Long, skated in alone on the beleaguered goalie.
The Memorial Cup champion will be crowned on May 24.
With files from The Associated Press