April 30, 2009
Sonne's biggest job yetWHL final pits Himen star against giant Rockets' d-man
By SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA
Brett Sonne will face a tall test in the WHL Championship.
Sonne, named the WHL's player of the year at yesterday's award ceremonies in Edmonton, will likely be seeing a lot of 6-foot-8 Kelowna Rockets defenceman Tyler Myers when the WHL championship starts tomorrow night (7:30 p.m. at the Dome, Shaw TV, FAN 960).
But it's a task Sonne is getting accustomed to.
He faced Team Canada world junior teammate Keith Aulie, who patrolled the Brandon Wheat Kings' blueline, in the Eastern Conference final. Now he'll face Aulie's world junior defence partner in Myers, who was named MVP of the Western Conference final, where the Rockets beat the Vancouver Giants in six games.
Sonne said there are a lot of similarities between Team Canada's shutdown defenders.
"They're both really good players," Sonne said. "They have a big size advantage and complemented each other well at the world juniors.
"Myers is one of the best players in the WHL, if not the entire CHL. But I'm not going to worry about anyone else this series. I'm just going to play my game."
Myers has already contained one former Team Canada teammate. He held Vancouver Giants stud Evander Kane to three goals and four points in the six-game series.
But the Calgary product knows it'll be even tougher to keep the WHL's MVP off the board in the final.
"He's proven this year he's a very gifted hockey player," Myers said. "Playing with him at world juniors, I got to see what kind of player he is.
"If I am up against him, I'll do the best I can to slow him down a little bit."
Myers, a first-round draft pick (12th overall) of the Buffalo Sabres, said he got to know Sonne pretty well over the Christmas break.
"I got to become friends with him and it'll be fun playing against him.
"Hopefully, we can come out with the bragging rights at the end of it."
There's a lot more on the line than just bragging rights, of course, as the winner of this series will book a ticket to the Memorial Cup.
And Myers gets a chance to accomplish that feat in his hometown. Or at least his new hometown.
"I'm from Houston, Texas, actually," Myers said. "I moved to Calgary in 2000 with my dad and my step-mom, and we recently moved to Dewinton.
"It's good to be back and it'll be fun to play in front of family and friends.
"I remember when I was 16, I got pretty nervous playing in front of my hometown, but I'm used to it now."
The Hitmen have cruised through the playoffs with 12 straight wins while the Rockets' last two series' each went six games.
But Myers doesn't think the extra miles his team has been forced to skate will have an impact once the puck drops tomorrow night.
"Calgary has obviously shown that they are a very good hockey team," said Myers, who avoided a suspension after levelling Vancouver Giants d-man Craig Schira last series. "They won the regular season and that was a very good accomplishment for them.
"It's going to be a battle for us, and we'll need every bit of work ethic we have to beat these guys."
The Hitmen and Rockets split the season series (both games were at the Dome).
But Myers only suited up for one contest -- a 2-1 victory over the Hitmen Feb. 28 -- Calgary's last setback on home ice.