|Rangers sweep through Memorial
Cup Tournament in style
It was a day 21 years in the making, the Rangers lived up to all of their pregame hype, Rangers fans lived up to and beyond their billing well prior to puck drop, the Hull Olympiqus, had little left after battling the Rockets the day before. The Rangers got off to an extremely quick start in the first period jumping out to a 2-0 lead only 3:32 into the first period. Andre Benoit scored early and Mr. powerplay himself: Gregory Campbell connected on the man-advantage with a crafty tip on another Andre Benoit point shot. The early goals proved to silence the Quebec partisan crowd who with few exceptions elected to cheer on their QMJHL champion: Hull Olympiques. Kitchener fans sitting prodominantly at one end of the arena continued to cheer as they had non-stop once the Rangers hopped onto the ice. The Rangers did have a couple of more quality chances but the game basically settled after the two-goal outburst by the Rangers as the Rangers outshot the Olympiques 9-4 in the opening frame.
The Rangers started the second period very similar to the way that they ended the first. Derek Roy was sprung on a breakaway before being hauled off balance leading to yet another powerplay for the Rangers. Evan McGrath whom had his name pronounced "Even" by the public address announcer, scored on a one-timer clearly beating Éric LaFrance to the far post giving the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead. With the Olympiques already on the powerplay with Michael Richards in the penalty box, Scott Dickie gave the QMJHL champions the chance that they were looking for. Only 15 seconds into the man-advantage Dickie left his crease and cleared the puck over the short glass at Le Colisee Pepsi for a delay of game penalty. It did take the Olympiques nearly a full minute on the two-man advantage but finally: Mathieu Brunelle scored on the two-man advantage.
The teams then proceeded to trade goals at a vigerous pace late in the second period. George Halkidis stepped in from the point and fanned on a shot which tricked LaFrance, restoring the 3 goal lead for the Rangers. With Gregory Campbell in the box only seconds later: Nick Fugère connected for Hull's second powerplay goal of the night. Evan McGrath then had a glorious opportunity that he burried to again restore the Rangers' three goal lead. But for the third time in the period the Olympiques would strike back and for the third time it was on the man-advantage, Doug O'Brien scored with just over a minute remaining. What made this goal different was that the Olympiques applied piles of pressure after this goal, but the Rangers were fortunate that the end of the period was near and they were able to regroup in their dressing room.
The Rangers appeared to have scored very early in the third period, when the red light went on, however official Steve Kozari waved the goal off immediately, and a quick check upstairs revealed that the puck did go off of the post. The Rangers were dominant in the third period. David Clarkson managed to create a breakaway late in the game, to ice things, but was thwarted by LaFrance. Later he would get the same opportunity, but best LaFrance restoring the Rangers 3 goal lead for the third time. The Olympiques almost scored with no time left on the clock prompting a delayed celebration for the Rangers who were joined by backup netminder DiRienzo from the penalty box and scratched players: Duff, Hurley and McFarland from the Zamboni enterance.
The Rangers had won the Memorial Cup for the first time since 1982, and for the first time ever took home the Hamilton Spectacular Trophy, J. Ross Robertson, and Memorial Cup all in the same season. In what much have been a very dificult decision, Derek Roy was named the Memorial Cup's MVP, and the Rangers swept through the All-Stars with one exception on defense. Roy, Richards and Campbell were the forwards named to the All-Star team, Eminger and Hull's O'Brien were named as defender and Dickie took home the Hap Emms Memorial Award for top netminder and also was named to the All-Star team as goalie. Campbell was named the top scorer in the tournament as well as most gentlemanly player. Much like the playoff MVP award which RangersRush, the OHL and the Kitchener Rangers gave to three different players: Scott Dickie, Derek Roy and Gregory Campbell it was hard to select between the Rangers who were so, so dominant as a team but lacked players who's play seemed to dominate the entire tournament.
The seemingly never ending celebration poured
onto the ice as fans made their way down to ice level from the top of the
lower bowl as Quebec fans filtered out of the building. The Rangers
were national champs and they did it with class, for the mostpart they
looked dominant all tournament long. They went undefeated through
4 games, something that the 1982 powerhouse team never really came close
to doing, as they finished the tournaments champions, but with a suspect
Special Thanks to: Duct Tape for excellent game night photography