After securing a spot in the 2009 Memorial Cup final last Tuesday night, the Kelowna Rockets had to wait four days for their shot at the championship game. The Windsor Spitfires on the other hand, won three games in four days to make an improbable appearance on Sunday to play Kelowna. A win over the Rockets on Wednesday sparked their tournament comeback, and the Spitfires rolled into the game with confidence and energy.
It was the perfect example of how a team with all the momentum can easily upset the favorited team. Especially when the goaltender allows three goals on the first three shots of the game.
Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger, who had played every game of the postseason so far, was pulled just seven minutes into the contest after allowing three relatively soft goals. Kelowna found themselves down 3-0 early, a deficit they never came close to overcoming.
"Of course we didn‘t want to give up the goals early on, but, sometimes, that‘s the way it goes," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska told the Kelowna Daily Courier. "I think we did have some jump early on, and I think we carried some of the play offensively in the first period.
"I thought we had the puck in the offensive zone a fair amount, but we found ourselves in that hole. As a team, we weren‘t able to dig ourselves out of it."
Not all can be blamed on the goaltender, however. Windsor outworked Kelowna in every facet of the game, and it wasn't until the Rockets had allowed two quick goals did they finally wake up and play. Yet 3-1 was as close as the game would ever get, after Colin Long knocked in a rebound off a shot by Jamie Benn early in the second period.
Adam Brown, who had yet to play a minute in the tournament, stopped 24 of 25 shots as he desperately tried to keep his team alive, including two oustanding stops on a breakaway just moments after entering the game.
"You always have to be ready because you never expect to go in," said Brown, 17. "Especially in a game like this. But you have to prepare for every game like you‘re going to be playing. Mark‘s been unreal this whole playoffs. One game . . . he shouldn‘t be too rattled. It‘s a team effort out there, and you can‘t blame just one guy. It‘s obviously bad that we lost. I hate to lose at any time, especially in a game like this. But I guess it‘s also good to get experience in the Memorial Cup.
"I was happy with my game; obviously it wasn‘t enough for us to win, but I was happy."
Dallas Stars top prospect Jamie Benn, who won the Ed Chynoweth Trophy as the tournament's top scorer, had one assist in the loss. There was a brief scare early in the game when Benn crashed awkwardly into the boards while trying to make a hit. He missed a few shifts but soon returned to the ice.
He finished with five goals and four assists in four games in the Memorial Cup.