The WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets are headed to the MasterCard Memorial Cup Final after a commanding 9-3 semi-final win over the host Québec Remparts on Friday. They will face Ontario champion Oshawa Generals Sunday at 4 pm Pacific for the championship.
The Rockets opened the game up in the second with four unanswered goals after a physical first period closed out tied at 1-1. Quebec’s Adam Erne had opened the scoring early at 3:11 before Kelowna’s Chase Braid answered at the midway point.
Nashville Predators prospect Justin Kirkland led the way with two goals and two assists, scoring 43 seconds apart in the second period to help the Rockets pull away.
Rourke Chartier also scored twice in the win while Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey each registered a goal and two helpers.
“I thought it was a slow start for us,” said Rockets head coach Dan Lambert. “Once Braid got us on the board I think we really started to bare down and make things difficult for them. Fatigue played a big part in this game,” he said, referring to the Remparts who were playing their third game in three days.
“I think maybe they got a bit tired towards the end,” said Kelowna forward Rourke Chartier. “That happens when you play three in three. They’re a good team over there and I thought our guys came to play tonight.”
“We’ve been through a long season and spent a lot of time in the trenches together all year long,” Rockets defenceman Josh Morrissey said post-game. “We didn’t have the start we wanted but we were able to battle back after they got the first one. We got pucks to the net and it worked out well for us.”
The two clubs came out of the first period tied at one as the Remparts took an early lead on Adam Erne’s third of the tournament. Power forward Chance Braid would respond for Kelowna as the two clubs went to the dressing room after a physical first.
The Rockets pulled away in the second as Draisaitl beat Fucale over the shoulder on the short side just 17 seconds into the fresh frame. Kirkland would double up 43 seconds apart two minutes later before Morrissey drained a hard slapshot from the point to put Kelowna ahead 5-1 after two.
The Remparts came out with some life in the third as Anthony Duclair was left all alone in the slot where Erne would find him with a backhand feed to deke out Jackson Whistle in the Kelowna crease 21 seconds in.
Chartier and Cole Linaker answered back for the Rockets, with Linaker picking the pocket of Fucale behind the goal line, beating him back to the net front to stuff the puck into the gaping cage at 2:54.
Shifty forward Dmytro Timashov banged in a powerplay goal from the slot on a feed out of the corner from Guillaume Gauthier, but Kelowna would nullify that momentum as well with Tyson Baillie and Rourke Chartier answering with a pair of goals before the sound of the final buzzer for a 9-3 final.
Kelowna outshot Québec 44-23 in the final Remparts game at the Pepsi Colisée before they move into the new Colisée Videotron to begin 2015-16.
Draisaitl earned first star honours with a dominant performance, creating chances off the rush while controlling the pace in his time on the ice.
The Kelowna Rockets meet the Oshawa Generals in the 97th MasterCard Memorial Cup Final on Sunday at 7:00pm.
The game can be seen across the country on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific and throughout Québec on TVA Sports.
Photos by Aaron Bell/CHL Images and Vincent Ethier