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Cirelli scores in OT as Generals win Memorial Cup

by Adam Kimelman / Winnipeg Jets


Anthony Cirelli scored his second goal 1:28 into overtime to give the Oshawa Generals a 2-1 win against the Kelowna Rockets in the championship game of the 2015 Memorial Cup played at
Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City.

Oshawa forward Tobias Lindberg (Ottawa Senators) carried the puck into the Kelowna zone and sent a pass back to Chris Carlisle, who one-timed it from above the right circle. Kelowna goalie Jackson Whistle stopped the shot with his left pad, but Cirelli, who had been screening Whistle, knocked
the loose puck into the net.

"I came off the bench, Lindberg had it, made a nice pass to Carlisle at the point and I went to the net," Cirelli said on Sportsnet. "He made a nice shot. Fortunately for me I just banged it in."

Cirelli, No. 67 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, had tied the game at 13:50 of the second period when he finished a 2-on-1 rush.

Goalie Ken Appleby made 37 saves for Oshawa, which won the Memorial Cup for the first time since 1990 and the fifth time in franchise history, more than any other current Canadian Hockey League team. The Generals' five championships are second-most in tournament history to the Toronto Marlboros' seven.

Tomas Soustal scored for Kelowna, and Whistle made 24 saves.

Kelowna forward Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers), who led the tournament with four goals and seven points, won the Stafford Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP.

The Rockets carried play in the first and got a goal from Soustal, a 2015 NHL Draft prospect, at 15:08. Cole Linaker beat Michael McCarron (Montreal Canadiens) on a faceoff on the right side of the Oshawa zone. The puck went back to defenseman Madison Bowey (Washington Capitals at the right point. His shot missed wide of the net but bounced hard off the end boards to Soustal near the left post, and he backhanded it past Appleby.

Kelowna outshot Oshawa 9-4 in the first period and continued to push the pace early in the second, but Appleby held strong. He stopped Linaker and Riley Stadel about five minutes into the period, and on the next shift made saves on chances by Dillon Dube and Tyson Baillie.

Appleby, a 2015 draft prospect, led the tournament with a 2.08 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in four games.

"Kenny held us in for the longest time," Oshawa coach D.J. Smith said. "They took it to us in the first and second period. We're lucky to be here."

Appleby deflected the credit to his teammates.

"The guys have bailed me out all season," he said. "They bailed me out a couple times in the tournament so I knew I had to be there for them. The guys grinded all game. They played unbelievable in front of me. They made my job easy at times."

Oshawa got rolling after back-to-back power plays midway through the second, and Cirelli's game-tying goal came 39 seconds after the second power play ended. Dakota Mermis, playing in the Memorial Cup for the third straight year after failing to win it the previous two years with the London Knights, found Cirelli with a stretch pass at the Kelowna blue line. Cirelli carried the puck down the left side and fired a shot that beat Whistle over his glove at 13:50 of the second.

Both teams had chances to win it in regulation. Kelowna's Nicholas Merkley, No. 23 on Central Scouting's final ranking, had a breakaway with 5:20 remaining but fumbled the puck and couldn't get off a shot.

Oshawa nearly won the game in regulation when Hunter Smith (Calgary Flames) batted in the rebound of a slap shot by Cole Cassels (Vancouver Canucks) with 2:30 remaining. But the goal was waved off after a video review determined Smith had played the puck with a high stick.

Dube had a nice chance from the high slot with 1:29 left but Appleby stopped him. At the other end Whistle scrambled to stop Cirelli from in close with just under 20 seconds remaining.

The game was the final one to be played at Pepsi Colisee, the former home of the Quebec Nordiques. The building is set for demolition; it will be replaced by the 18,000-seta Videotron Centre next door.

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