Tyler Myers and Jamie Benn each had a goal and two
assists as the Rockets opened the 91st MasterCard Memorial Cup with a
dominant 4-1 victory over Rimouski on Friday night.
The Oceanic, battling a gastro-interitis bug in
their dressing room and rusty from inactivity since they were ousted
from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league playoffs on April 22, could
barely get the puck out of their zone in the opening 10 minutes against
an intense Kelowna forecheck.
And the outcome was all-but decided when Kelowna killed off a two-man advantage in each of the first and second periods.
"You always want to have a good start and that's what
we did," said the towering Myers, a Buffalo draft pick who signed a
three-year contract with the NHL club this week. "We have to keep doing
that, but also make sure we play a full 60 minutes.
"Our power play was good, but I was more impressed
with our penalty killing, especially 5-on 3. But we've got to be more
Ian Duval and Lucas Bloodoff also scored for the Rockets, who outshot the Oceanic 42-20.
Philippe Cornet ended Mark Guggenberger's shutout bid
with a goal at 13:04 of the third period, rewarding the 4,695 fans who
did not stop cheering and banging their noisemakers all night, even as
the Rockets overpowered the Oceanic with high-paced, physical hockey.
Rimouski coach Clement Jodoin said that veteran
defencemen Maxime Ouimet and Ryan Kavanagh were both sent to hospital
with gastro - he said Kavanagh was particularly ill - over the past two
days and both were missed by a team that, even if it had its skating
legs, was in tough against the Western Hockey League champions.
"Using two young defencemen wasn't easy, but that's
not an excuse," said Jodoin. "We were lucky it was only 1-0 after the
"It's a question of momentum and energy. We had a
5-on-3 and we had chances. If we had scored, the energy would have been
different. But we had a second 5-on-3 and didn't come close to having a
chance. But I give credit to the other team and how they played."
The Rockets were led by Myers and Benn, both members
of the Canadian team that won gold at the world junior championship in
Ottawa in January.
While they and their teammates peppered Maxime
Gougeon, who was outstanding in goal for Rimouski despite the defeat,
Guggenberger did stretching exercises during stoppages to keep himself
"I have to stay focused when the play's in the other
end and with this team, that's more often than not," he said. "So I
have to stay ready and wait my turn."
The round robin portion of the four-team event
continues Saturday (4:40 p.m. ET) when the Ontario Hockey League
champion Windsor Spitfires face the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League-winning Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Kelowna coach Ryan Huska liked how his team started
the game, but decried their inconsistency. He said the Rockets "played
well in spurts, but other times we allowed too much room in the neutral
"Down the line, we'll need to tighten that up."
The Oceanic next play Sunday against Windsor, while
the Rockets have two days off before meeting Drummondville on Monday
and Windsor on Tuesday.
"We've just got to win the next one," said Rimouski
centre Patrice Cormier. "We talked a lot about being ready and we came
"Next game we can't use the excuse that our legs weren't there. We've got game shape now. We have to get back at it."
Gougeon kept his team in the contest in the opening
period, as Kelowna outshot the hosts 17-8. He allowed only the rangy
six-foot-eight Myers' goal on off-wing shot from the top of the left
circle that appeared to go in off a defenceman 6:33 into the game.
Benn banged Myers' rebound into an open side on a
power play 4:33 into the second frame and Myers also picked up an
assist on Duval's goal at 5:52.
Only 1:29 into the third, draft-eligible Tyson Barrie's shot went in off Bloodoff to make it 4-0.
The Rockets may have let up late in the game, as
Jordan Caron tipped a shot just over the cross bar just before Keven
Veilleux won a draw in the Kelowna end and got the puck to Cornet in
the slot for Rimouski's only goal.