VANCOUVER: The Vancouver Giants will play in their first MasterCard Memorial Cup final on Sunday.
Right winger Michal Repik scored twice and added an assist for the host team in Friday's 8-1 semifinal drowning of the Ontario Hockey League champion Plymouth Whalers before 13,372 fans at the Pacific Coliseum.
"Our goal at the start of the season was to get to this game and now we're there," said Vancouver right winger J.D. Watt.
Vancouver and the Medicine Hat Tigers will contest the 89th Memorial Cup final on Sunday (1 p.m. PDT, Sportsnet). It will be the teams' 11th meeting of 2006-2007: they split two regular season games before the Tigers beat Vancouver 4-3 in this month's WHL championship series. Tigers edged Vancouver 1-0 on Wednesday to earn a bye into the final.
Giant Wacey Rabbit set the tone against Plymouth by scoring 55 seconds into the first period with help from Milan Lucic and Cody Franson. Lucic had his second assist on Repik's wraparound goal at 12:59.
"The first goal in the first minute was huge for us," Repik said. "We set the tempo high and went from there."
Jeremy Smith replaced Whalers' starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth after Repik set-up Franson's goal at 4:55 of the second.
Plymouth's A.J. Jenks took advantage of a turnover behind Vancouver's net and found Andrew Fournier, who beat Giants' goaltender Tyson Sexsmith at 8:40.
Whalers had a chance to score again after a controversial goaltender interference penalty was levied against Watt, who actually was shoved into Smith by a Plymouth defender. Repik, however, made it 4-1 with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 14:16.
Watt, celebrating his 20th birthday, put the game out of reach when he scored on Evander Kane's rebound at 16:49 of the middle frame.
"It's sad that we went down like this, but that's the way it goes," said Plymouth captain Steve Ward.
James Wright turned it into a blowout when he scored twice in the span of 38 seconds at 4:38 and 5:16 of the third, both set-up by Watt. Spencer Machacek made it 8-1 on a power play goal at 15:12.
"We knew they were coming off four games in five days and we had to take advantage of that," Wright said.
Vancouver backup goaltender Blaine Neufeld relieved Sexsmith with 4:08 remaining after the starter stopped 38 of 39 shots.
Host New Westminster Bruins were Memorial Cup champions the last time the national major junior championship tournament was held at the Pacific Coliseum 30 years ago.