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WINDSOR WINS IT

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
The Windsor Spitfires exploded with an early barrage against the Kelowna Rockets in Sunday's Memorial Cup final, capturing the championship with a 4-1 victory.

Adam Henrique, Dale Mitchell and Rob Kwiet scored on Windsor's first three shots before the game was seven minutes old, sending Kelowna goalie Mark Guggenberger to the bench.

Kings prospect Andrei Loktionov assisted on the third Windsor goal, becoming the first Kings prospect to win the Memorial Cup since Petr Kanko, the Kings third-round selection in 2002, who would go on to win the 2003 Memorial Cup with the Kitchener Rangers.

Loktionov, the Kings 5th round choice, 123rd overall, in 2008, finished tied for fifth at the Memorial Cup with seven points (2-5=7) in six games. The only player on the Kings current roster with a Memorial Cup to his name is forward Jarret Stoll, who won the tournament in 2002 with the Kootenay Ice.

Colin Long scored for the Rockets eight seconds into the second period in the game at Rimouski, Que., but Ryan Ellis of the Spitfires restored the three-goal cushion later in the frame.

Andrew Engelage finished with 17 saves for the winners.

Windsor won the Memorial Cup for the first time in the 34 years since the team joined the Ontario Hockey League. The Spitfires of 1988 lost in the final. The Windsor Spitfires Vice President and General Manager is former King Warren Rychel.

Windsor won 73 of 88 regular-season and playoff games but appeared to be slumping at the wrong time early in the tournament. The Spitfires became the first team to win the Memorial Cup after losing the first two games. They were also the first to win after having to play the extra qualifying game, which requires playing three games in four days.

The win caps a difficult few months for the team and the city hard hit by auto industry job cuts.

Many of the players were on the team during the 2007-08 season when captain Mickey Renaud died suddenly at the age of 19 due to a rare heart condition.

The Rockets had an outstanding season, knocking off the favored Calgary Hitmen, whose goaltender is fellow Kings prospect Martin Jones, in the Western Hockey League final. Kelowna was in the tournament for the fourth time in seven seasons, winning the event in 2004.

Sunday's first period was a disaster for Kelowna, which hadn't played since wrapping up a berth in the final on Tuesday.

Guggenberger, who was outstanding in the regular season and playoffs, was disconsolate on the bench after being pulled.

The first period also saw Kelowna's Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers limp off with injuries, although they would return. Henrique, who scored the overtime winner in the semifinal victory over Drummondville, opened the scoring after taking a drop pass from Greg Nemisz.

It would be the first of three goals in a 3:49 span for the Ontario Hockey League champions. Mitchell outfought Tysen Dowzak along the right boards and fired a high shot that found Guggenberger down early on the play. Rob Kwiet's soft wrister between the pads completed the outburst and had coach Ryan Huska putting Adam Brown into the Kelowna net. Brown was thrown into the deep end, forced to make a breakaway save on Mitchell early on in his outing. Later, the Rockets netminder had to adjust when Nemisz redirected a point shot.

In between, Engelage kept Kelowna off the scoreboard when he stopped Cody Almond's shot. Brown kept up the strong work, denying Andrei Loktionov from the slot, but Ellis would beat the Rockets goalie with a slapshot over the glove.

Brown stopped 16 of 17 shots in relief.

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