Right-winger Darren Ritchie’s three goals powered the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 9-2 victory over the Hull Olympiques Saturday at the Memorial Cup.
The undrafted Ritchie, 21, began Brandon’s on-slaught at 14:06 of the opening period when he tapped linemate Marty Murray’s rebound past Hull goaltender Jose Theodore.
His goal was the first of the weeklong, round-robin tournament held to determine Canada’s major junior hockey champion.
The Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League used their superior size and experience to bury the young Hull club before a noisy, pro-West sellout crowd of 5,500.
Theodore, selected in the second round of the 1994 entry draft by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, was peppered with 14 shots in the first period and allowed three goals.
Brandon’s Darren Van Oene and Peter Schaefer also scored in the opening period to put Hull, a surprise winner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, down 3-0 entering the second.
Brandon’s Bryan McCabe scored short-handed - his first of two goals in the game - at 1:58 of the second to make it 4-0. McCabe, a former Spokane Chief, also had three assists in the rout.
Less than 3 minutes later, Ritchie scored his second goal of the game on a power play.
Colin Cloutier’s goal at 9:34 of the second period gave Brandon a 6-0 lead.
After the sixth Brandon goal, Theodore was pulled in favor of backup Neil Savary.
The Wheat Kings made it 9-1 late in the third on Scott Laluk’s goal at 16:03.
Brandon’s Brian Elder’s shutout bid was broken at 6:49 of the third period when Hull’s Michael McKay scored on the power play. Hull’s second goal was scored by Jonathan Delisle late in the third period.
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