By Monika Moravan
BRANDON, Man. – A flurry of goals scored during a 2:15 span early in the third period set the stage for Eric Wellwood’s overtime-winner as a sellout crowd watched the Windsor Spitfires defeat the Moncton Wildcats 4-3 at the 2010 Memorial Cup.
“I was really happy,” said Wellwood on scoring his first goal of the tournament.
Wellwood had several scoring opportunities including one in the first period; Moncton goalie Shane Owen denied Wellwood at 10:06. The Spitfires left winger released a hard shot while streaking towards the Wildcats net, only to be snagged into Owen’s glove.
“The puck jumped on me right before I shot,” explained Wellwood. “I had many chances to score, but it was nice to finally get one.”
A mere 25 seconds after Wellwood’s missed first period chance, Spitfires netminder Philipp Grubauer demonstrated his skills, stopping a shot by Wildcats captain Scott Brannon, despite being screened by a tangle of players.
Moncton’s Randy Cameron opened the scoring at 18:36 on a shot that went past Grubauer, who was being screened.
Only 76 seconds later, with Moncton center Alex Saulnier in the penalty box for a high-stick on Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler’s shot from the top of the faceoff circle tied the game at 1-1.
Boosted by the goal late in the opening frame, Windsor took a 2-1 lead at 5:09 of the second after Justin Shugg stick-handled the puck through Moncton’s defence and past Owen.
Moncton captain Brannon queued his team’s comeback at 2:32 of the third period, putting a pass from Marek Hrivik past Grubauer.
The announcer at Keystone Centre hadn’t even finished announcing that goal when Brandon Gormley’s shot gave Moncton a 3-2 lead.
Windsor’s Stephen Johnston tied the game at 3-3 at 4:47 of the third period on a pass from Adam Henrique.
Both teams came close to scoring in the final 30 seconds of regulation. Amid a mass of players around the crease, Grubauer gloved a stray puck with 24.3 seconds left.
Ten seconds later, Owen made a high glove save on Wellwood.
Owen stopped 48 of Windsor’s 52 shots, while Windsor’s Grubauer made 38 saves.
Windsor does not play until the championship final on Sunday, May 23.
On Wednesday the host Brandon Wheat Kings play the Calgary Hitmen in an all Western League game.
NOTES: Taylor Hall leads tournament scorers with four goals and two assists in three games… Windsor’s last loss was a 5-3 defeat to the Kitchener Rangers on April 18 in the Ontario League Western Conference final…The ceremonial faceoff featured eight members from the 1959 Winnipeg Braves, the last Manitoba team to win the Memorial Cup, along with Tampa Bay Lightning/Norfolk Admirals center Ryan Craig. Although born in British Columbia, Craig endeared himself to the local community during his time on the Brandon Wheat Kings from 1998 to 2003. His contributions earned him both the Canadian League Humanitarian of the Year Award and WHL Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy in 2003.
By Monika Moravan