Rockets book trip to Memorial Cup

SCOTT FISHER

, Last Updated: 11:39 AM ET

KELOWNA -- It took a little extra shovel-work, but the Kelowna Rockets finally Barrie-d the Calgary Hitmen.

Rockets defenceman Tyson Barrie scored the sudden-death winner on a powerplay 8:13 into overtime to send the Rockets to the Memorial Cup.

Barrie's marker gave the Rockets a WHL Championship series-clinching 3-2 victory.

Calgary product Tyler Myers said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the winner hit the back of the net on the Rockets' 50th shot of the contest.

"I was so happy," said Myers, who was voted the WHL playoffs MVP.

"I just threw my gear off and just jumped into the pile.

"It's an unbelievable feeling."

The Hitmen, who received goals from Bostjan Golicic and Joel Broda, were attempting to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a seventh game back at the Saddledome.

Hitmen bench boss Dave Lowry had difficulty putting his disappointment into words.

"I feel their pain," Lowry said outside a silent dressing room. "You don't always have to like the process.

"I'm proud of the guys and how they competed."

Colin Long and Lucas Bloodoff also scored for the host Rockets, who won their third WHL title.

The Rockets will make their fourth Memorial Cup appearance in the last seven years.

Kelowna dominated the shot clock to the tune of 50-26, but Hitmen starter Martin Jones was brilliant throughout the thriller.

Broda nearly won it earlier in overtime. He scored from behind the net, but he'd received a hand pass.

Broda forced overtime with his 11th goal of the playoffs when he crashed the net and beat Rockets starter Mark Guggenberger with 7:03 to play.

And Jones got his team to sudden-death with another huge stop.

Calgary Flames prospect Mikael Backlund had a breakaway from his own blueline, but Jones stood his ground and denied the slick Swede's bid for the game-winner with under four minutes to go in regulation.

Long scored a powerplay goal through traffic to put the home side on the board in the second period and energize the sold-out Prospera Place crowd.

And Bloodoff put the Rockets on top just 1:50 later. Jamie Benn's pass went in off Bloodoff's skate, but it was ruled there was no distinct kicking motion and the go-ahead marker stood.

The Hitmen got two big breaks in the opening period and used them to take a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.

Down two men, the visitors killed off the first penalty. Overage winger Kyle Bortis sent the puck out to centre just as Golicic stepped out of the penalty box, and the Slovenian took it in on a breakaway.

Golicic deked to his forehand and beat Guggenberger for the shorthanded marker.

The Rockets, still on the powerplay, thought they had evened the score 46 seconds later when Myers found the back of the net.

But, after video review, the goal was waved off because Long had dislodged the net before the puck crossed the line.

Both goaltenders were sharp in the opening frame.

Jones made a miraculous glove save off Backlund on an early Rockets powerplay.

SCOTT.FISHER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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