Windsor stays alive at Memorial Cup
Highly touted NHL prospects Taylor Hall and Ryan Ellis scored as the Windsor Spitfires staved off elimination at the Memorial Cup on Tuesday night with a 2-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets.
Ellis scored the winner early in the third period with a slapshot past Rockets netminder Mark Guggenberger in the game at Rimouski, Que. Hall assisted on the play, while Adam Henrique had a hand in setting up both goals for Windsor (1-2).
Windsor played a like a desperate team and could have easily won by a larger margin if not for the play of Guggenberger and Kelowna's penalty killers.
The Spitfires enjoyed a 5-on-3 advantage after the Ellis goal but Rocket defenders sprawled all over the ice to block several shots, led by Cody Almond.
Windsor enjoyed a 34-17 edge in shots on goal.
The Ontario Hockey League champions will now play either Rimouski or Drummondville on Thursday to determine a berth in the tournament semifinal the following night.
If they get to the final, the Spitfires will play three games in four days.
"It's going to be tough, but that's no different from our schedule during the season," said Spitfires captain Harry Young. "It's do or die from here on out and I think that's a good thing for our team."
Kelowna (2-1) had already clinched a berth in Sunday's final by winning their first two games. The Rockets may not have demonstrated their best hockey against Windsor, but they clearly came to play despite their secure standing.
"It's a one-game shot for us now and we want to be ready," said Rockets coach Ryan Huska. "We weren't ready enough.
"We knew they would come out with urgency — they had to — and we didn't respond the way you need to put a team out of the tournament. Give credit to Windsor, but we were standing around too much."
The Rockets took a 1-0 lead early in the second on the power play, a goal credited to Kyle St. Denis.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Tyler Myers controlled the puck with teammate Lucas Bloodoff and then blasted a shot that went off St. Denis and past Windsor goalie Andrew Engelage.
Hall, among the early contenders to go first in the 2010 NHL entry draft, hit the post shortly after the Kelowna score and minutes later was on the doorstep for a rebound from a Henrique shot, but neither Windsor player could convert.
Hall would not be denied a third time, potting goal from a mad scramble at the 16:21 mark of the second.
Mobile defenceman Ellis, expected to go in the first round in the upcoming June draft, unleashed a slapper into the top left corner just over four minutes into the third.
Engelage made perhaps his biggest save of the game, preserving the lead when St. Denis made a bid for his second of the game.
Kelowna is making its fourth appearance at the tournament since 2003. The franchise won the Memorial Cup in 2004.
The Spitfires have never won, last appearing at the Memorial Cup in 1988.
"We've got to win three straight, but it's not an impossible feat for our team," said Hall. "We've done it many times this year.
"We won 18 in a row. We've just got to play hard and stay in our system and we'll be fine."
Tuesday's game was played in front of an announced crowd of 4,219 at the Rimouski Colisée that included Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe and NHL Hall of Famer and Quebec Remparts owner Patrick Roy.
With files from The Canadian Press