WHL: Rockets put Giants on brink of elimination

The Canadian Press

4/26/2009 1:07:56 AM

VANCOUVER -- The Kelowna Rockets put Vancouver on the brink of playoff elimination from the WHL playoffs as they blanked the Giants 1-0 on Saturday night.

Ryley Grantham scored the game's only goal at 18:22 of the first period before a disappointed crowd of 10,083 at the Pacific Coliseum.

The Rockets took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final series and can clinch a berth in the WHL championship series with another win Monday in Kelowna.

Rocket's goaltender Mark Guggenberger recorded his second shutout of the playoffs as he made 25 saves. After a slow start, the Giants outshot Kelowna 25-23.

Tempers flared early as Vancouver's Mike Berube and Kelowna's Curt Gogol squared off in a fight 1:25 into the game and then Kelowna's Cody Almond and Vancouver's James Wright fought near the six-minute mark.

Scoring chances were few and far between. After being limited to 14 shots in Thursday's 3-0 loss in Game 4, the Giants had hoped to come out firing. But they were outshot 12-6 in the first period and only managed to match Kelowna's total of four in the second.

Grantham scored at 18:22 of the opening session. Mitchell Callahan skated out of the corner with the puck but lost possession and Grantham popped it past Vancouver goaltender Tyson Sexsmith.

Vancouver's would-be goal was disallowed at 17:44 of the second after a replay showed Nolan Toigo kicked in Garry Nunn's pass from the corner.

Rockets forward-turned-defenceman Brandon McMillan took the game's first penalty, a hooking infraction, at 2:44 of the third. Then, fifty seconds later, Kelowna defenceman Tyler Myers gave the Giants a two-man advantage as his long, high clearing attempt from the Rockets end went over the glass in Vancouver's zone.

Vancouver coach Don Hay called a timeout to help his club gear up for the five-on-three situation, but the Giants couldn't score. They received another power play only seven seconds after the previous two had expired as Jamie Benn was called for hooking Vancouver defenceman Craig Schira. But Guggenberger robbed Evander Kane on a rebound, picking off the shot with his glove.