One of the handful of regrets in my life is that I passed up on the opportunity to go the Memorial Cup Finals in 2004 to see the Rockets win the championship. Sure the secondary market for tickets was 50-80 bucks but it would have been a real blast and much more interesting than watching the game on the old battered TV in the Marketplace lunchroom. I was down at Prospera Place (it was still Skyreach then, I think) all morning long doing some opening-day campaigning for Vern Neilsen, the Liberal candidate in the election, and there was a tremendous buzz in the air for the hometown favourites. Who could have known then that the core of that team, five years later, would be in the NHL and kicking ass on a nightly basis? Josh Gorges, Shea Weber and Blake Comeau are the three most well known, but Mike Card and Cam Paddock are now starting to crack their lineups as well. It was a thrilling game and a great moment for the city of Kelowna.
Well, five years later the Rockets are once again poised on the verge of championship greatness. With an incredible victory last night over Drumondville they've secured themselves a spot in the finals, thanks largely to the heroics of Jamie Benn, who notched 4 goals and an assist. The game was so riveting that I didn't even flip over to TSN for the NHL playoff game in progress. The team is absolutely on fire after taking out Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver, and Calgary in the WHL Playoffs, and it has certainly carried over to the biggest stage in major junior hockey in Canada.
GO ROCKETS GO!