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“Words can’t describe what I’m feeing now,” Cirelli said as the Generals celebrated their 2-1 victory over the Western Hockey League champion Kelowna Rockets. “Coming from midget hockey last year and making this team, then doing this….. we worked so hard all season and to win it is unbelievable.”
The Generals won the Cup for the first time since 1990 and became the first Ontario Hockey League team to win since the 2010 Windsor Spitfires.
Tomas Soustal scored in the first period for Kelowna, which had the edge in possession and play for most of the game but got only one past solid goaltender Ken Appleby. The Rockets outshot the Generals 38-26.
“I was shocked when it when in. It was an unbelievable feeling,” said Cirelli.
Added Generals veteran defenceman Dakota Mermis: “You see Carlisle, an overager, get the puck to the net and Cirelli, a guy who was undrafted in the OHL, and he nails it right in and then it’s all just emotions. It’s so crazy.”
“Both teams battled hard and it could have gone either way,” said dejected Rockets captain Madison Bowey. “We played hard and you know what? Two great teams meet up and one team has to lose and tonight we were on the wrong side of things.”
Perhaps rusty from five days off since finishing first in the round robin, the Generals were unable get sustained pressure in the Kelowna zone.
The Generals had a veteran team that will lose most of its top players next season. Youngsters like Cirelli will be the team’s future. The Woodbridge, Ont. native had 13 goals in 68 regular season games and added two in the OHL playoffs.
His two at the Memorial Cup were ones he won’t forget.
“I just kept working hard and thinking ‘my time will come,”‘ said Cirelli. “I’m just thankful I got those two goals.”
Appleby was named top goaltender and Alexis Loiseau of the Rimouski Oceanic was named most sportsmanlike player.