Friday, May 17, 2013

10 years since Rockets first MC appearance

It's been 10 years!
Ten years since the Kelowna Rockets made their first ever appearance at the Memorial Cup.
The venue was the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City, the site of the 2003 event. It  featured the WHL champion Kelowna Rockets, the Quebec Remparts, Kitchener Rangers and Hull Olympiques.
The Rockets represented the WHL after a six game series win over the Red Deer Rebels. 
That season the WHL champions were led by 20 year-old Jesse Schultz (pictured right), a 53 goal man during the regular season who was an impact player in the post season (12 goals - 16 assists = 28 points in 19 playoff games) where he was named MVP.
The Rockets roster also included Josh Gorges, Shea Weber, Cam Paddock, Mike Card, Duncan Keith and Blake Comeau.
That's right, seven players (Schultz included) from the 2003 team would see time in the NHL. They were that good.    
The eventual Memorial Cup champions that season, the Kitchener Rangers, had the likes of NHL'er Mike Richards, Derek Roy and Steve Eminger.
The Rockets would win just one game at the Cup, a 3-2 victory over the host Quebec Remparts. Despite the 1 and 2 record in the round-robin, the Rockets advanced to the semi finals where they would lose 2-1 to the Hull Olympiques. Kitchener would beat Hull 6-3 a day later in the championship game.   
As disappointed as the Rockets were to leave the 2003 Memorial Cup in Quebec City empty handed, who would have thought that only a season later they would win the title in front of the hometown crowd before making a third consecutive appearance, this time in London Ontario, in 2005.
The stop in Quebec City was a sign of things to come.

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