VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The 2007 Memorial Cup tournament is getting off to an interesting start.

Kenndal McArdle took a feed from behind the net from J.D. Watt and beat goalie Michal Neuvirth to the short side to lift the Vancouver Giants to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Plymouth Whalers in the opening game of the 89th Memorial Cup.

Lewiston will face Vancouver on Sunday, but up first is Medicine Hat this afternoon at 4 p.m.

The host Vancouver Giants took the lead three times Friday night, and after each goal, the Plymouth Whalers knotted the score on the power play.

Taking it all in

The Lewiston Maineiacs, meanwhile, had the first official day off.

The coaching staff took a particular interest in the first game, putting together scouting reports for each of the teams. Head coach Clem Jodoin sat at broadcaster Jeff Mannix’s table with goalie coach Dan Bouchard and took notes throughout the game.

The players sat together in the above Section C, all dressed in business casual.

“Most of them wanted to come anyway,” Jodoin said. “They have all summer to go out and have fun. Now we have four games left. They’re focused.”

The team had practiced at a smaller rink outside of town Thursday, and had a morning skate Friday. The Maineiacs open up their Memorial Cup schedule today at 1 p.m. Pacific, 4 p.m. Eastern.

Changing time

Upon arrival in Vancouver after a long day of busses and planes, the Maineiacs found that they had a little less energy to burn. The clock read 9 p.m., but their bodies told them otherwise. Back home, it was midnight and past curfew.

“I still got up at 5 a.m.,” Jodoin said. “The players, though, they got better after just one day.”

By Friday, most of the team had adjusted to the time difference and were able to sleep regularly.

Nice digs

Granted, the Pacific Coliseum is an aging elephant of a building, not unlike the Colisee in Quebec City. But the charm that made it the home of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League remains.

The building is an old style arena. Nothing fancy about the architecture, the arena is in a bowl and can seat more than 16,000 fans.

“It’s a nice building. It’s a nice city, It’s a big building in a big city,” Jodoin said. “But the game is still played on an 85-by-200 sheet of ice.”

The Coliseum also affords the Vancouver Giants a true home-ice advantage. The Giants play their home games here all season.

Home-ice advantage

Speaking of home-ice advantage: The Maineiacs have the undesireable schedule of playing three games in four nights. But the trade-off is that in two of those games, Lewiston will wear its home white sweaters and, more importantly, get the last line change after each stoppage in play. This will allow Jodoin to match his lines better against whatever the opponents have to offer.


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