The game was basically meaningless. But that didn’t seem to matter to the Belleville Bulls and Kitchener Rangers Wednesday night in their Round-Robin finale at the 2008 Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Both teams could have packed it in as both would face each other in Friday’s semifinals. A game of much more importance. The two teams came out firing at full speed and gave the crowd a great show as Belleville earned a 4-3 comeback overtime victory.
Kitchener owned play in the first period, scoring all three of their goals in the opening frame. Scott Tregunna got them on the board 8:07 into the contest. The Rangers then tripled their lead shortly thereafter. Mikkel Boedker gave them the 2-0 lead thanks to a power play goal with 8:22 left in the period and Yannick Weber increased the lead to 3-0 just 1:01 after.
Belleville was down. Even though they had some quality shots on Rangers netminder Josh Unice, they couldn’t beat him. It would take another pretty goal from Panthers prospect Shawn Matthias
to break open the floodgates so to speak. Belleville found themselves shorthanded for the fifth time in the contest. This time it was a blessing as Belleville had cleared the puck down the ice to waste some time. Matthias raced down the ice and beat the Ranger defenseman to the puck, went East/West and beat Unice five-hole.
That got the Bulls going.
They brought the score to within one to close out the second when Cory Tanaka scored on a power play with 6:45 left. Belleville then tied it when P.K. Subban gathered his own rebound and fired it past Unice on a Bulls 4-on-3 man advantage.
The game would make it to overtime tied at three in large part to Bulls goaltender Mike Murphy. After giving up the three goals in the first, he settled down big time, stopping 38 shots in the second and third. His 26 saves in the third period alone were three fewer than Belleville put on net all game long.
With Murphy coming up big in overtime by stopping six shots, Keaton Turkiewicz ended the game 8:55 into the extra session as he roofed Matthias’ rebound over Unice.
Matthias finished with the goal (4th in the tournament) and assist (1st of tournament) while Mike Duco finished a +1 for Kitchener while also collecting an interference penalty as he knocked over Murphy with 51 seconds left in the second period.
The Bulls and Rangers meet for the ninth time in the last three weeks on Friday. With the series split and four, this game means the world as the winner gets a date with Spokane on Sunday to decide the Memorial Cup Champion.