Rockets crash land

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Sidney Crosby got a little help from his friends last night to eliminate the Kelowna Rockets from the 2005 Memorial Cup.

For the third consecutive game at the John Labatt Centre, Crosby had a goal and an assist as the Rimouski Oceanic hung on to beat the Rockets 4-3.

The Oceanic (2-1) will play in the semi-final on Saturday against either the London Knights (2-0) or the Ottawa 67's (1-1). If the 67's beat the Knights by two or more goals tonight in the final game of the round-robin, they will advance to the final. If not, the Knights will earn a bye to the final.

"It's nice to avoid a tie-breaker and now we have a couple of days of preparation as well," Crosby said. "We're in the right spot right now."

Only Crosby and linemates Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Dany Roussin scored in the Oceanic's first two games. But last night, Zbynek Hrdel, Mario Scalzo Jr. and Jean-Michel Bolduc also scored for Rimouski.

With Wayne Gretzky watching from the same corner box that was occupied by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman a night earlier, Crosby scored a pretty goal at 4:53 of the second period when he chipped a pass from Roussin into the top corner of the net.

"It has gone pretty well," Crosby said when asked what he thought of his own play so far at the tournament. "I am trying to create things and there is not as much space as you might think there is, but there is some tight checking and I am just trying to battle through it."

Blake Comeau, with two goals, and Tyler Spurgeon scored for Kelowna. The Rockets fired 47 shots at Oceanic goalie Cedrick Desjardins, who was stellar at times.

A year after winning the Memorial Cup at home, the Rockets became the first team from the Western Hockey League to go 0-3 since the Kootenay Ice in 2000. It was the Rockets' third consecutive appearance in the Cup, but despite the presence of eight players who were on all three Cup teams, they did not make much noise. A defensive-minded group, the Rockets essentially had four lines of pluggers with little in the way of offensive punch.

An emotional Shea Weber, a blue-chip NHL prospect who has signed with the Nashville Predators, likely will make the jump to the pros next season. Drafted by Nashville in 2003, Weber was on all three of Kelowna's Cup clubs.

"It hurts," said the defenceman, who was a teammate of Crosby with Canada at the world junior this past winter. "It's going to be tough on us for the next little while and we're going to have to live with it. Some guys never get a chance to play (in the Memorial Cup) and it was special to do it three times."


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