Talented teams battle to a stalemate

Matthew
Matthew Gourlie
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Okanagan rallies to tie Châteauguay

The Okanagan Rockets showed that it's not how you start, it's how you finish that counts.

Justin Doucet from the Grenadiers de Châteauguay deflects a shot in front of Okanagan Rockets goalie Brendan Barry during the first day of action at the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw.

Both the Rockets and the Grenadiers de Châteauguay are hoping that is true for the Telus Cup as a whole after the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie Monday at Mosaic Place.

"We started off a little bit slow, but we came back and fought really hard," said Liam Finlay who was the Rockets game MVP. "We haven't played in a couple of weeks — I mean excuses are excuses — but we were a little rusty."

The Grenadiers out-shot Okanagan 7-1 to start the game and led 3-1 in the second period before the Rockets found their feet.

"We wanted to start better than we did. It took some time to get going so I think we're all happy with the tie," said Rockets head coach Mack

"That tying goal was a big moment and it will probably going to be a big moment for us in the tournament."

Finlay tied the game after getting a great cross-crease feed from Branden Wagner with 7:56 left in the third period. Finlay, who is listed by the Regina Pats, but has committed to Denver University, scored the overtime winner to send the Rockets to Moose Jaw.

"They're a great team. They move the puck well and they have great size. I would really like to see them again," said Finlay.

It was all Grenadiers early.

Tyler Hylland opened the scoring for Châteauguay when he was sprung on a breakaway by Martin-Olivier Cardinal.

Okanagan's Brett Young raced onto a loose puck to the game with a short-handed goal with 11.5 seconds left in the first period.

The Grenadiers regained the lead in the second period thanks to their defence. Jean-Sébastien Taillefer ripped a shot into the top corner and 1:25 later Mikael Sabourin finished of a great back-door pass from Justin Samson on the power play.

"I'm happy. It's a big point that we got tonight," said Châteauguay head coach Bruce Richardson. "We have to stay positive. We got a point and we didn't play the way we're capable of playing. (Tuesday) I think we'll come out much better than we did today."

Richardson called it a "weird game" and felt both teams traded swings of momentum.

"I think that's normal for the first game of the tournament. All of the kids were excited to be here and they see everything going around and all of the ceremonies," said Richardson. "I think you waste so much energy looking and thinking about that waiting for it to start. When the game starts you've wasted that energy on the wrong thing."

The Grenadiers had regained the momentum in the game in the middle of the second period, but Richardson felt they got away from their game.

"I don't think we supported each other well today," said Richardson. "What happened tonight, I think when it was 3-1 or 3-2 some of these guys were trying to do it by themselves instead of supporting each other and doing the things that brought us here."

Penalties also helped kill the Grenadiers momentum as the teams traded special teams chances in the final half of the game.

The Rockets cut into the Grenadiers' lead when Tanner Wishnowski was the benefactor of a deflection that trickled past Étienne Montpetit in the Grenadiers goal.

In the third period the Rockets speed proved lethal as they began to out-skate an equally dynamic Châteauguay side.

"People look at our team and think they can man-hande us, but when they see our team speed and our team skill they back off a little bit," said Rockets head coach Mack O'Rourke. "I was impressed with Quebec. They were physical and they didn't let us walk to the areas we like to walk to. We'll have to improve on that and maybe be a little a tougher ourselves."

Montpetit made 27 saves for the Grenadiers and Brendan Barry stopped 22 shots in the Rockets goal.

Organizations: Telus, Denver University

Geographic location: Châteauguay, Okanagan, Moose Jaw Quebec

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