Another kick at cats

Plymouth Whalers goalie Michal Newvirth right slides across the crease to protect the net against...

Plymouth Whalers goalie Michal Newvirth right slides across the crease to protect the net against Vancouver Giants Milan Lucic during first period of Memorial Cup semi final action in Vancouver Friday May 25, 2007. The Giants led 2-0 after one period.(CP PHOTO/Chuck Stoody)

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It's the way the tournament was meant to conclude.

The teams organizers wanted in the final and the matchup that would draw the biggest gate.

Tomorrow the host Vancouver Giants take on the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Memorial Cup final (2 p.m.) at the Pacific Coliseum.

BERTH INTO THE FINAL

Last night, the Giants earned a berth into the final with an 8-1 semifinal blowout over the Ontario Hockey League champion Plymouth Whalers.

"We wanted to have a good first five minutes and we did that," said Giants forward Milan Lucic. "We really set the tone. That first goal was a huge momentum builder."

Wacey Rabbit started things off early, firing the first shot on net past Whalers goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Michal Repik added another before the end of the period for the Giants.

"Getting a quick goal makes it easier on us because we like to play with the lead," Lucic said. "After that goal we knew we couldn't quit there. We had to build on it, stick with it and move forward.

"I don't know if this sends a statement. I think that it showed that we wanted to win. And after a disappointing loss on Wednesday we wanted to come out firing and we wanted to set that tempo, get a lot of pucks and people to the net."

The Whalers had earned the right to play in the semifinal by knocking off the Lewiston Maineiacs in the tiebreaker game the night before. No team that has played in the tiebreaker game has ever won the tournament and only one team has made it to the final.

"They were all over us the whole game," said Whalers' captain Steve Ward. "You can say a whole bunch of things could have turned the game around, but it wasn't meant to be tonight."

In the second, the Giants extended their lead when Repik blew by defenceman Wes Cunningham and slid the puck out to Cody Franson in front.

That was is for Neuvirth, who was replaced by Jeremy Smith. The Whalers backup goaltender is the top-rated North American goaltender heading into next month's NHL draft. However, Smith would have done more for his rating had he stayed on the bench.

Andrew Fournier pulled one back for the Whalers, but it was as close as they would get.

The game got nasty in the latter stages of the second period.

The ill will began when J.D. Watt was assessed an interference penalty after getting shoved into goalie Smith.

The fans in attendance were not impressed with the call and voiced their displeasure energizing the building. The negative energy quickly turned positive when Repik jumped on a loose puck at centre, went in all alone and beat Smith to put the Giants up 4-1.

"That was the longest and the loudest boo I've ever seen," said Giants head coach Don Hay. "I thought the fans saw the same thing that we did. We thought J.D. got pushed in and they weren't very happy and they let the referees know it.

"I thought we fed off that energy and the fourth goal turned out to be a momentum-building goal."

Bouma added another late in the period extending the Giants lead to four goals. James Wright scored a pair in the third while Spencer Machacek added the other to round out the scoring.

11TH MEETING THIS SEASON

Tomorrow's final marks the 11th time this season the Giants and the Tigers will face each other. The Tigers defeated the Giants in the WHL final in a thrilling seven-game series decided in double-overtime.

"I think playing in front of our crowd is going to be huge," Lucic said. "I think there's going to be a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity going into that final."


Videos

Photos