Saturday, May 15, 2004

9 Days in May

The Hometown Kelowna Rockets kick off the 2004 Memorial cup on Saturday afternoon as they take on the Guelph Storm from the OHL. The Canadian Junior Championship regularly features some high octane hockey and this year, it's 86th event should not be any different.

Four teams have survived their respective leagues to make it to the finals in addition to the Rockets and the Storm, familiar teams from Gatineau (formerly Hull) Olympiques and the Medicine Hat Tigers all are ready to hunker down and make this final push for a championship.

Kelowna qualified as the home site team this year after being eliminated in the regular WHL playoffs, for Kelowna there has not been a shot fired in anger since April 27th. It will be how that layoff affected them, that will go a long way to showing if they can be there for the final game. Kelowna’s main problem in the playoffs was an inability to score, if Marc Habscheid has found a way to solve that dilemma then the Rockets may be the team to watch this week.

The Olympiques seem to be a constant participant of post season play in Quebec. A solid franchise that has sent a few of the stars of the NHL on their way, they frequently bring a hard hitting game combined with a lethal scoring attack, always a team to watch this tournament will be no different.

Medicine Hat worked their way through the always tough Western Hockey League playoff spiel, an event which can involve many hours of travel just for the right to carry on for another series. Will all that travel of the last three months finally wear them down, or can they rebound from that and keep up the frantic pace they’ve become known for.

No stranger to Memorial Cups the Storm once again makes the journey to Canada’s junior championship. Most recently the host team two years ago the Storm count on veterans Martin St. Pierre and Daniel Paille to help show the way to victory.

Sportsnet has won the rights to broadcast all games of the Memorial cup, they kick off their coverage on Saturday a 7 pm (EST) 4 pm (PST) and carry on through till the final game May 23rd at 4pm (EST) 1 pm in Kelowna. A sold out rink and national television every night, nothing more need be said about the health of Canadian Junior hockey, the evidence is on display all week in Kelowna.

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