The Kelowna Rockets and Quebec Remparts are about to meet for the second time in a week.
This time, everything’s at stake.
With a trip to the Memorial Cup final on the line, the WHL champs and host Remparts will face off Friday night in the tournament semifinal in Quebec City.
The winner will advance to Sunday’s championship game against the unbeaten Oshawa Generals (3-0).
The Rockets, who lost to the Remparts in the Memorial Cup opener last Friday, have had the last two days off after finishing the round robin at 1-2.
The Remparts, who defeated Rimouski in Thursday’s tiebreaker, will be playing their third game in as many nights.
Kelowna head coach Dan Lambert said there’s no better time than the present for his Rockets to bring their most complete effort of the championship.
“We feel that we’ve played well at times and other times not so well,” said Lambert. “So we really want to come out with guns blazing, be aggressive and play Rockets hockey.”
One of the stretches where Lambert thought the Rockets failed to play their best was on opening night at Colisee Pepsi in a 4-3 setback to the Remparts.
Drawing on last Friday’s experience in front of a pro-Quebec crowd, Lambert expects his team to be better prepared for tonight’s rematch.
“All of that helps, the fact that we’ve played them once before so we’re a little more familiar with their players, we’ve played them in front of their crowd which again we’ll be a little more familiar this time around,” Lambert said. “It should be a great game, at the end of the day that’s why both teams are here and both are very capable of playing extremely well.”
As tired as the Remparts may be from playing three games in as many nights, Quebec coach Philippe Boucher expects his team to give everything they have left in the tank.
“I have full trust in our players that they’re going to show up no matter how banged up we are or how tired we are,” Boucher said.
As for the Rockets, Boucher looks for the WHL champs to be much improved over the last meeting.
“They were a little rusty in the first game here, and we were still on aderenalin from Game 7 that we lost to Rimouski,” said Boucher. “The (Rockets) have been practicing, they know the building, they’ve been playing better hockey than on opening night, so we’re going to see a better team for sure.”
Tonight’s winner will meet the Oshawa Generals for the Canadian Hockey League championship on Sunday at 4 p.m. Pacific time.
Remparts’ coach Philippe Boucher was fined $10,000 by the Canadian Hockey League Thursday for comments made following his team’s 4-0 loss to Rimouski on Wednesday night.
Boucher’s comments regarding CHL staff and league officials were determined to be unacceptable and deemed to be detrimental to the best interest of the Canadian Hockey League and the MasterCard Memorial Cup.