QUEBEC — Leon Draisatl was glad to see what he called the “real” Kelowna Rockets show up at the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Draisaitl, Nick Merkley and Gage Quinney each scored twice as the Western Hockey League champion Rockets downed the Rimouski Oceanic 7-3 on Monday night, erasing the bitter taste of a loss to the host Quebec Remparts in their opening game of the four-team tournament.
“It’s nice to show the hockey world what we’re capable of,” said Draisaitl. “We played, in my opinion, one of the worst games we played all year against Quebec.
“It’s nice to get everybody going, get a few guys on the scoresheet and show the world that we’re better than we were against the Remparts.”
Defenceman Madison Bowey, who had two assists, also scored as Kelowna chased starting goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon in favour of Philippe Desrosiers at 10:42 of the second period after scoring five times on 22 shots. Kelowna outshot Rimouski 36-31 overall.
The Rockets (1-1) end round-robin play against the Ontario Hockey League champion Oshawa Generals (2-0) on Tuesday night feeling much better about their game.
“It was huge for us,” said Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers 2014 first-round pick. “It was a must win situation for both teams.
“It was heated. It was physical, but I think we got back to playing our game.”
Chris Clapperton, Michael Joly and Frederik Gauthier scored for Rimouski (0-2), which has a must win game Wednesday night against the Remparts — the team it beat in the seven-game Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final.
“We were so high with the final, but now we’re really down,” said Clapperton. “We didn’t see the real Oceanic.
“It’s bad to play that type of hockey. We need to (settle down) or else it will be a short Memorial Cup.”
The draft-eligible Merkley boosted his stock with a three-point night that left him with the tournament scoring lead at five points — one more than Daisaitl and Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle.
Draisaitl and Quinney, along with defenceman Josh Morrissey, all joined the Rockets from the Prince Albert Raiders this season.
Kelowna scored three times in the opening 15 minutes, but the Oceanic answered with two before the end of the period.
Merkley took a feed from Draisaitl, split the defence and beat Guindon with a backhand only 52 seconds in.
Bowey saw his point shot go in off Jan Kostalek’s stick for an own goal at 6:16. And Merkley slipped the puck to Quinney out of a scramble to fire over a pileup in front of Guindon at 14:27.
Only 47 seconds later Clapperton score from the doorstep. Joly then went around the net, cut back in front and scored on a power play at 18:14 to make it 3-2 Rockets.
Quinney saw a shot sail over Guindon on a power play 1:52 into the second, while Merkley slipped the puck under the goalie on a drive to the net at 10:42 to restore the three-goal lead.
Desrosiers let in the first shot he faced when Draisaitl drove the net and fired in a Dillon Dube feed at 13:18.
Gauthier banked a puck in off a defender on a power play at 13:36 of the third only to see Draisaitl score shorthanded on and end-to-end rush at 14:16.
Merkley, who also had an assist, the undrafted 19-year-old Quinney and Draisaitl each have three goals in two games.
Rimouski coach Serge Beausoleil opted to go with Guindon after Dallas prospect Desrosier gave up a bad rebound on Hunter Smith’s game-winner in a 4-3 loss to Oshawa on Saturday.
The game drew the smallest crowd of the tournament thus far to the Pepsi Colisee, 6,981.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press