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Calgary crowned WHL champs; earn Memorial Cup berth

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The Canadian Press
5/8/2010 12:16:25 AM
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CALGARY -- The first time the Calgary Hitmen won the Western Hockey League championship in 1999, Kris Foucault sat in the stands as a fan and cheered them on.

Eleven years later to the day, this time as a member of the Hitmen, Foucault helped Calgary beat the Tri-City Americans 4-1 on Friday night at home to win the WHL championship series 4-1.

"Eleven years ago I was standing in this spot exactly as today, except I was somewhere out there (in the stands), so it's very exciting to be down on the ice doing the same thing," said the 19-year-old Calgary native. "It's definitely exciting. To be on the winning side of this on the ice, it's actually unbelievable."

Michael Stone scored twice to lead the Hitmen to victory in front of a raucous crowd of 15,335 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"The two goals were on two good screens where I picked the right spot and I connected with the puck really well," said Stone, who was happy to help lead the Hitmen to the title one year after losing in six games to the Kelowna Rockets in last season's WHL final.

"The disappointment from last year was really hurting me throughout the year. It's nice to do it not only for the boys here now, but for the boys that missed out on the chance last year. I think they feel like they're a little bit a part of it as well."

Calgary last won the WHL championship when it was known as the President's Cup back on May 7, 1999, defeating the Kamloops Blazers in five games.

By virtue of capturing the Ed Chynoweth Cup, the Hitmen advanced to the Memorial Cup in Brandon, Man., from May 14-23.

The Brandon Wheat Kings have also qualified as the host squad, while the Windsor Spitfires will attempt to defend their title after capturing the Ontario Hockey League championship on Tuesday night.

In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final, the Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs are currently tied at two games apiece.

Misha Fisenko scored once and set up another for the Hitmen, while Tyler Fiddler also scored.

Goalie Martin Jones was named the series' most valuable player after stopping 32 shots and adding an assist.

"It's just an awesome feeling now, knowing that we beat them at their best," Jones said. "We're just so excited right now. We are going to soak this in for a couple of days then back to work."

Adam Hughesman scored the lone goal of the game for the Americans, who were appearing in their first-ever WHL championship series.

"Not a lot of people thought much of our team early, certainly in the pre-season polls and then we stumbled a little bit at the end," said Tri-City coach Jim Hillers. "I think people wrote us off going into the playoffs particularly based on the size of our team. I thought we showed tremendous character and will through the playoffs."

Tri-City goalie Alexander Pechurskiy made 23 saves in a losing cause.

Despite being outshot 6-1 early in the contest, the Americans scored the first goal of the contest when Hughesman swatted a loose puck in the crease past Jones.

The Hitmen then rallied to tie the game when Fisenko skated the length of the ice before firing a shot into the top corner over Pechurskiy's glove hand during a Calgary power play.

At 6:43 of the second period, Stone blasted a slapshot from the top of the face-off circle past Pechurskiy. A short time later during a Hitmen man advantage, the 19-year-old defenceman scored again on another blistering shot from the point.

Calgary went up 4-1 when Fiddler stole the puck from forward Brendan Shinnimin in the Tri-City zone.

The Americans had a great chance to get back into the game early in the third period when they were awarded a two-man advantage for 1:39, but they couldn't get any pucks past Jones.

Notes: Hitmen leading scorer Brandon Kozun went feet first into the boards seven minutes into the second period and didn't return. Kozun, who led all WHL scorers in the post-season with eight goals and 22 assists in 23 games, said he'll be ready to go for the Memorial Cup.

Calgary Hitmen (Photo: TSN)

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(Photo: TSN)
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