In search of Rocket fuel

Ottawa 67's defenceman Derek Joslin takes down teammate Julian Talbot during practice yesterday at...

Ottawa 67's defenceman Derek Joslin takes down teammate Julian Talbot during practice yesterday at the Civic Centre. The team will travel to London this week for the Memorial Cup. (Ottawa Sun/Errol McGihon)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

It will be a case of facing the great unknown when the 67's play their first game of the Memorial Cup in London on Sunday.

Their opening match is against the WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets, who beat the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games to win the final.

Over the next few days, the Ottawa coaching staff will try to get as much information as it can on the Rockets to learn what the 67's need to do against a team they've never faced.

And the 67's figure the Rockets will be doing the same, going through video and finding out through connections Ottawa's strengths and weaknesses.

KILLER CONNECTIONS

Brian Kilrea, who has developed quite a few of those connections during his Hall of Fame coaching career, said he'll speak with scouts from NHL teams and friends who have seen the Rockets play this season.

"They'll give you a bit of an idea, but obviously you (had) better go in with the idea that they earned it, and they're a good team," said the 67's coach and GM.

"You want to know what they do in their breakouts and you want to know what they do on their power play and on the penalty kill, but you still have to play the game that you're capable of."

The players are getting into the advance scouting mode, too.

Brad Bonello surfed the Internet in search of information about the Rockets.

"They don't know what we're all about, and we don't know what they're all about," said Bonello. "I'm pretty sure their coaching staff will have reports on us, and Killer will have reports on them."

From the information they've gleaned so far, the 67's see the Rockets as a superb defensive team with a balanced attack on offence.

The Wheat Kings, their opponent in the WHL final, had three of the league's top four scorers during the regular season, but the Rockets limited them to eight goals in the five games of the championship series.

Kelowna is coached by Jeff Truitt, who took over this season from Marc Habscheid -- now the national team's coach.

The Rockets, who are the defending Memorial Cup champs, will be making their third straight appearance in the Cup -- the first time a WHL team has done that since the New Westminster Bruins from 1976-78.

"They've been to the Memorial Cup for the last three years, so we know they've got a lot of experience out there," said Ottawa winger Julian Talbot.

HAIR CLUB FOR MEN: The 67's decided to get rid of their playoff beards following the loss to London in the OHL final. Rookie W Arron Alphonso went a step further, getting his hair shaved right off the top of his head when the team attended a barbecue on Sunday. D Nick Van Herpt served as the barber. "It looked like somebody put a big wig in the garbage pail," said Ottawa captain Will Colbert. Alphonso needed to have his helmet adjusted one size smaller to fit. "Somebody said I looked like a cone head," said Alphonso. "It actually feels much better. I can actually feel the air on my scalp."

IN THE CREASE: Van Herpt left practice after taking a puck in the jaw, but returned a few minutes later.


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