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After the opening game of the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup, we were told we had not seen the real Kelowna Rockets. But one week later, the Western Hockey League champions have arrived in full-force....
The Rockets advanced to the championship game with a 9-3 win over the host Quebec Remparts. Quebec was playing its third game in three nights after the final game of the round robin, tie breaker and then semi-final. The Rockets last played Tuesday, losing to the Oshawa Generals, who they will have a rematch with Sunday for the 97th Memorial Cup title.
The atmosphere heading into the game was bolstered by a celebration of the 1971 Memorial Cup champion Quebec Remparts team - featuring legendary Guy Lafleur. The already loud Colisee kept the decibel metre high celebrating the first goal of the goal. Adam Erne coverted a Kelowna turnover to bring the crowd of 9,870 to its feet. But just before the midway point of the period, Chance Braid converted a cross-ice pass from Tomas Soustal to even it up and take a bit of the buzz out of the crowd. The two sides went to the room even after 20 minutes.
Kelowna started the second period on the powerplay and needed only 17 seconds before Leon Draisitl scored his fourth goal of the tournament to put the Rockets in front. Then two quick goals by Justin Kirkland, 43 seconds apart, put the WHL champions ahead by three with only 4:06 gone in the second period.
Officiating had been a topic of conversation earlier in the tournament, with the Remparts fined $10,000 following post-game comments by GM/Coach Phillippe Boucher. The QMJHL-based referees drew the ire of the crowd again on this night, littering the ice with giveaway promotional material with about five minutes remaining in the second period.
After an unsuccessful Kelowna penalty shot, Josh Morrissey added a fifth Rockets goal to increase the Kelowna lead to four after two periods.
The Remparts would get one back just 21 seconds into the third period off the stick of Arizona Coyotes propsect Anthony Duclair. But Rourke Chartier restored the four-goal lead less than two minutes later - taking any hint of a comeback away. The route continued with Kelowna picking up a couple more goals before regulation time expired.
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