SLAM! Sports, in
the Canadian Hockey
League, teams up to bring you
coverage of Canada's
3 Major Junior
SLAM! Jr. Hockey
Sunday, May 17, 1998
Championship: Portland 4, Guelph 3 (OT)
Portland wins Memorial Cup
Bobby Russell scored at 6:21 of overtime Sunday to give the Western Hockey League champion Portland Winter Hawks a 4-3 win over the Guelph Storm and their first Memorial Cup championship since 1983.
"By far this is the best day of my life," said an elated Russell, a 20-year-old native of Surrey, B.C. "Someone had to score a goal and if it wasn't me, it would have been one of my 20 teammates."
That was the story this season for the No. 1 ranked Winter Hawks. They had so many players that could beat opponents in different ways.
"(Guelph) took it to us," said a hoarse Portland coach Brent Peterson. "But we've always had somebody who came up big in tough situations. I was confident someone would come up big...This might never happen again. I might retire and sell real estate or something."
A sellout crowd of 10,731 fans was on hand at the Spokane Veterans' Memorial Arena to watch a riveting game between the two favorites for the Stanley Cup of major junior hockey in North America.
The championship game almost ended in controversy.
With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Portland's Marian Hossa was crossing the ice when Guelph's Ryan Davis collided with the Ottawa Senators 1997 first round pick. Davis had his knee out and the two had a sickening collision that left Hossa writhing in pain and holding his knee.
Hossa was out of the game and Davis got a kneeing major and a game misconduct.
The already exhausted Storm, who won Saturday's semifinal over Spokane in overtime, were shorthanded for all but the last 31 seconds of regulation time, but managed to kill the major penalty and send the game into overtime.
After the game, Hossa, who will have surgery on his injured knee next week, was pushed around the ice by his teammates with the Cup as he sat on an office chair.
Guelph was outshot 20-5 in the third period and 56-32 overall.
Storm goalie Chris Madden was awesome again, making 52 saves, but could not stop the winner.
"It was just a matter of who got a chance first," said Madden, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. "It was their turn tonight, I guess, but I would trade (the MVP award) in any time to win the Cup."
In the round robin portion of the tournament, Portland beat Guelph 6-2, but this game easily could have gone Guelph's way with a break or two.
"We'd love to be celebrating the championship," said George Burnett, coach of the Ontario Hockey League champions. "But our kids deserve a lot of credit for the year they've had and the tournament they've had. We're disappointed, but we know we got beat by a real good team."
Storm captain Chris Hajt was near tears at the end of the game. He also went to the 1996 Memorial Cup with Guelph and the Storm lost all three of their games that year.
"It's very sad in the locker room," said Hajt. "But everyone really sucked it up. We played our hearts out. We came up a little short, but I think with a couple of bounces, things could have been different."
Guelph got things started early as Kent McDonell slapped a shot past Portland goalie Brent Belecki at 1:46 of the first. Belecki looked as if he was not quite ready for the shot.
Portland, unfazed by the early goal, got one of their own as Todd Robinson banged home a rebound from the side of the net on the powerplay at 4:05.
Portland's Memorial Cup sniper Andrej Podkonicky snapped home a low shot through Chris Madden's legs at 6:46 of the first to give the Winter Hawks a 2-1 lead. It was Podkonicky's seventh goal of the tournament.
The goal scoring record for a Memorial Cup is eight, held by Dale Hawerchuk, Luc Robitaille and Pat Falloon.
Guelph made it 2-2 early in the second as Nick Bootland swatted home a rebound on the power play at 2:06.
Hossa, the 12th overall pick by Ottawa at the 1997 National Hockey League Entry Draft, made it 3-2 for Portland with another power play goal that he lifted past Madden at 7:45 of the second period.
Portland's Mike Hurley took a four-minute minor for highsticking Guelph's Chris Hajt, but the Storm could not convert. The score was 3-2 Winter Hawks after two periods.
Guelph's Eric Beaudoin had a glorious scoring opportunity early in the third, but Belecki stoned him.
Later, Matt Lahey tied things at 3-3 at 12:53 after breaking in alone on Belecki and deking him.
That goal gave Guelph some jump until the kneeing game misconduct late in the game.
1. Guelph, McDonell 3 (Lahey) 1:46
2. Portland, Robinson 2 (Hossa, Ference) 4:05 (pp)
3. Portland, Podkonicky 7 (Hurley, Tetarenko) 6:46
Penalties -- Mitchell Gue (holding) 2:58; Bootland Gue (slashing) 7:30; Willsie Gue (elbowing) 11:22; Vellinga Gue (roughing) 16:06; Russell Por (roughing) 16:06; Robinson Por (hooking) 18:42;
4. Guelph, Bootland 2 (Jackman, Vellinga) 2:06 (pp)
5. Portland, Hossa 5 (Robinson) 7:45 (pp)
Penalties -- Podkonicky Por (interference) 1:51; Bootland Gue (interference) 4:05; Lahey Gue (elbowing) 7:12; Mitchell Gue (slashing) 9:51; Robinson Por (slashing) 9:51; Hurley Por (highsticking double minor) 11:05; Jackman Gue (tripping) 15:05; Hurley Por (slashing) 17:06;
6. Guelph, Lahey 1 (Hajt) 12:53
Penalties -- Mitchell Gue (crosschecking) 9:47; Davis Gue (kneeing major, game misconduct) 14:29;
7. Portland, Russell 5 (Haupt, Robinson) 6:21
Penalties -- None
Shots on goal by
Guelph 11 14 5 2--32
Portland 17 14 20 5--56
Power plays (goals-chances) -- Portland 2-8, Guelph 1-6.
Goal -- Portland: Belecki (W,4-0-0); Guelph: Madden (L,3-2-0).
Referee -- Brad Meier. Linesmen -- Vaughan Rody, Troy Sartison.
Scratches: -- PORTLAND: D Ryan Thrussell; LW Kyle Chant; C Blake Robson. GUELPH: G Daniel Jacques; D Joey Bartley; D Andrew Nahriniak; LW Bohuslav Subr; C Andrew Long; RW Brian McGrattan.
Attendance at Spokane Veterans' Memorial Arena -- 10,731.