Panther Prospect Kenndal McArdle scored the game winning goal on Friday for the Vancouver Giants 5:06 into overtime, giving the Giants a 4-3 win over the Ontario Hockey League Champion Plymouth Whalers in front of a Memorial Cup Championship tournament record 13,428 screaming fans.
Sunday afternoon, the Giants, who are hosting this year’s tournament, set another attendance record with 13, 734 people watching the hometown Giants secure a spot in the Memorial Cup Semi-finals, improving their record to 2-0 in the round robin tournament with a 2-1 victory over the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Champion Lewistown MAINEiacs. McArdle was once again played a key role in the Giants win, scoring the game-tying goal in the third period. Wacey Rabbit eventually scored the game-winner for the Giants with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
"We just had to stick with it, I think we were getting frustrated for a bit, but we did a good job to stay with the game plan and trusting that eventually one would go in," said McArdle, who scored the Giants overtime winner against the Ontario champion Whalers to open the 10-day tournament this past Friday.
"I'm really happy we've won two games. We knew it was important to start strong and and get a berth in the semi and now it's up to us to get the bye straight to the final."
The Giants can clinch an automatic berth in the Memorial Cup Championship game tonight if the Whalers (0-1) defeat the Western Hockey League Champion Medicine Hat Tigers (0-1) at 8 p.m. EST. Panthers prospect Dan Collins will look to keep his Whalers team’s hopes alive for the Memorial Cup semi-final berth with a win and send McArdle’s team to the championship game.
"It feels good, obviously, but we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," cautioned Giants head coach Don Hay, when asked about the envious position his team has put itself in. "We just have to stay in the present moment and take a couple of hours and get ready for the next game."
If Medicine Hat defeats Plymouth tonight, then the Giants will have to defeat Medicine Hat themselves on Wednesday to earn a trip to the championship game. Meanwhile, Plymouth must win tonight and tomorrow night against Lewistown to move to the Memorial Cup Semi-finals.
For more details on the 2007 MasterCard Memorial Cup log on to www.chl.ca