Chiefs eliminate Olympiques

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

KITCHENER -- Chris Bruton won't be so bold to say he plays on the best forward line in major junior hockey.

But the Spokane Chiefs captain saw some special chemistry brewing in training camp when he hooked up with American gunners Drayson Bowman and Mitch Wahl.

"There are some good lines out there, but we came out at the start of the season on fire and had one of the best points-per-game percentage in the Canadian Hockey League," the 21-year-old from Calgary said. "I had passed my career goals and points in something like my 20th game. After Christmas, we were broken up for a bit because teams were really coming after us.

"But we've been good together. I just go and bang on the wall. Drayson likes to shoot and go to the net and Mitch is a great playmaker."

They possess all the elements. So far, the Chiefs trio has outduelled Kitchener's top guns, baffled Belleville's best and outflashed Gatineau's Claude Giroux and Paul Byron, knocking the winless Olympiques from the Memorial Cup with a 3-1 victory last night.

Bowman, with his tournament-leading fifth goal, and Wahl, with the game-winner, led the way again for final-bound and unbeaten Spokane.

The victory set up a meaningless round-robin game between host Kitchener and Belleville tonight. The two OHL clubs will meet again Friday in a semifinal.

"We feel like we owe them (the Rangers) one for Game 7 (of the OHL final)," Belleville forward Bryan Cameron said. "We're still not going to let up (tonight). If we can beat them, it will plant doubt in their minds."

The battle will be for the right to have last change in the semifinal. The Bulls are coming off a win; the Rangers, a rare loss.

"I think we're all looking forward to it and we know what they bring so there's no secrets," Kitchener captain and Dorchester native Matt Pepe said. "We played OK against Spokane, but we all know we have more. I think our guys will respond. We always have and there's no reason to believe we won't this time."

Giroux, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect, was held to one goal in three games. The Cup was forgettable, but not his season.

"From the Super Series to the world juniors to this, it's a year I'll always remember," the Hearst native said. "If at Christmas, you would've told me we were going to win the (Quebec league's President's Cup), I wouldn't have believed you. But we beat better teams to get here and we deserved to be here."

The Olympiques are the first Quebec team to lose all three of its Cup games since the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 1999 at Ottawa. But they'll be back. They always are.

"When I found out I was being traded to Gatineau, I asked someone if they were any good," said goalie Ryan Mior, a St. John's, Nfld., native. "I was told it didn't matter who they have -- they're always good. This organization finds a way to be competitive each year."

The problem, coach Benoit Groulx said, is they played their best game against what he feels "is probably the best team in the tournament." The Chiefs didn't come in with overwhelming stats or over-bearing reputations, but they just held two great offences to a goal apiece in Kitchener and Gatineau.

"We pride ourselves on our defensive play and our ability to shut down teams," said Wahl, 18, of Seal Beach, Calif. "They (the Olympiques) were desperate but this game was important to us, too. We didn't want to go into the final after a bad game."

Chiefs 3, Olympiques 1


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