Kitchener Rangers win the Memorial Cup
Kitchener's offensive heat too much for Hull
The Rangers last won the Memorial Cup in 1982.
(posted May. 25, 9:57PM EDT)
QUEBEC -- The Kitchener Rangers took the shortest road to the Memorial Cup final and made the most of it when they got there.
The Ontario Hockey League champions defeated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Hull Olympiques 6-3 in Sunday's final of the Canadian Hockey League championship.
Kitchener last won a Memorial Cup in 1982 in a tournament also hosted by the QMJHL. OHL teams have won 11 Memorial Cups in the modern era of the tournament since the advent of the four-team, round-robin format in 1972.
The Rangers went 3-0 through the round robin to advance directly to the final, and more importantly, avoid the semifinal. Hull had defeated Kelowna 2-1 in Saturday's semifinal.
Kitchener scored early and often on Sunday and gained a 3-0 lead less than two minutes into the second period.
The Rangers had goals from nine different players over the course of the tournament and third-line rookie forward Evan McGrath scored twice and added an assist in the final.
Defenceman Andre Benoit and winger Greg Campbell each contributed a goal and two assists. Defenceman George Halkidis and David Clarkson also scored for Kitchener.
"I've never won anything like this before in my life," Rangers captain Derek Roy told Rogers Sportsnet. "It's an unbelievable feeling for me and the boys. Twenty-four guys in one dressing room all for one goal at the start of the year -- to win the Memorial Cup -- and we accomplished that."
Roy was named MVP of the tournament and was presented with the Stafford Smythe Trophy afterwards.
Mathieu Brunelle, Nick Fugere and Doug O'Brien scored Hull's goals -- all in the second period -- in front of a pro-Hull crowd of 14,366 at Pepsi Colisee.
The 2003 Memorial Cup set an attendance record of 84,675 at the 15,399-seat arena. The previous record was 84,200 in Ottawa in 1999 at the 10,500-seat Civic Centre.
Both teams ran into penalty trouble, especially in the second period when four of the six goals scored were power-play goals.
The Rangers, a more veteran team with more big-game experience, weathered the storm and emerged with a 5-3 lead heading into the third.
The Olympiques, whose average age is just over 18, were guilty of breakdowns in their own end early in the game and their defenceman were occasionally caught too deep.
The latter led to Kitchener's sixth goal, a breakaway by Clarkson at 17:22 of the third period.
Olympiques goaltender Eric Lafrance and Kitchener counterpart Scott Dickie were both playing their final games for their respective clubs, with which they'd spent their entire careers. Both were overage players and will not be eligible to return.
"I just wanted to give the guys a chance to win and keep them in every game," Dickie said. "Pete (Rangers coach Pete DeBoer) and I had a little thing that every game there was a contract on the line.
"I just wanted to go out there and play every game like I wanted that contract and hopefully I'll at least get a tryout (from an NHL team) or maybe a contract."
Dickie made 22 saves and Lafrance stopped 24 shots.