Rockets get OK to add backup goalie

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

The intrigue has already begun and it's still two days until the first puck drops.

The defending Memorial Cup champion Kelowna Rockets were given permission yesterday by the Canadian Hockey League to add Everett Silvertips goalie Mike Wall as an emergency backup.

Wall, from Telkwa, B.C., replaces the Rockets' regular netminder, Derek Yeomans, who was injured during the Western Hockey League championship series.

Wall will only be allowed to play if starter Kristofer Westblom is injured, the CHL said, adding the games committee reserves the right, should Westblom suffer an injury, to have an independent medical examination performed before Wall is allowed to play.

Yeomans, 19, will accompany the Rockets to London -- the teams are arriving today -- and if he's medically cleared to play during the tournament he'll be activated and replace Wall on the roster.

Westblom is an 18-year-old rookie who played in 18 regular-season games and the final four games of the WHL final against Brandon.

Yeomans led the WHL playoffs with a 1.82 goals-against average in 20 games before suffering what's described as a lower body injury.

The Rockets play their first game Sunday against the Ottawa 67's.

WHL commissioner Ron Robison first granted permission for the Rockets to add Wall, but the decision had to go the CHL for a vote.

David Branch is OHL commissioner and Gilles Courteau heads the Quebec league and they gave their approval.

Wall stood fifth among WHL goalies in the regular season with a 1.92 average. He also had a .931 save percentage, among the league's best.

"I don't know too much about it, but it's been approved, let's just go and play," 67's coach and general manager Brian Kilrea said last night.

"They had a No. 1 who got hurt, it's within the rules, all you can do is hope you can beat them."

Kilrea also coached in the days the CHL allowed teams to add a goaltender for the Memorial Cup and in 1977 he picked up Pat Riggin from the London Knights after the 67's beat out the Knights in the OHL final.

Riggin went in goal for Ottawa after the 67's lost their opener 7-6 to the New Westminster Bruins and his play over the next four games earned him the Hap Emms Trophy as the outstanding goalie, even though the 67's lost 6-5 to the Bruins in the final.

The CHL eventually did away with the practice of allowing teams to add a goalie, except in the case of an emergency replacement for an injury.


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