Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
 

Game 7, 2006: Beating his hometown team

Thursday, 06.11.2009 / 12:58 PM / 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

"You've got to give Edmonton credit," Ward said. "They didn't give up, and they threw everything at us. When you look at the first goal, it was as a bad rebound on my part — a goal that I wanted to take back. You saw the same situation with the second time around, and I was fortunate to make the save."
-- Cam Ward

Cam Ward didn't get to hold up the Stanley Cup in front of his parents, who have season tickets in Section 102 of Edmonton's Rexall Place. He had to settle for bringing the Cup to Tobacco Road for the first time.

The Oilers were Ward's favorite team growing up in the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park, Alta., and center Doug Weight was one of his favorite players.

"It doesn't seem like it was long ago that I was watching Dougie from the stands playing the Dallas Stars in the first round," he said. "But they definitely were a team that I had the privilege of going to watch and cheer for, and enjoy doing so."

In 2006, Weight was Ward's teammate on the Carolina Hurricanes — and wound up watching and cheering for the 22-year-old rookie after injuring his shoulder in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, a game the Oilers won 4-3 on Fernando Pisani's shorthanded goal in overtime. Although Ward made the save of the playoffs in Game 6, the Oilers won 4-0 to push the series to the limit for the fourth time in five years and the third year in a row — a first in the history of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Oilers' win also kept Ward from celebrating a championship in front of his family and friends. Instead, it was back to the RBC Center in Raleigh and a raucous sellout crowd. The Hurricanes gave their fans something to cheer about just 1:26 into the game when defenseman Aaron Ward (no relation) beat Edmonton goaltender Jussi Markkanen for a 1-0 lead.

Frantisek Kaberle's power-play goal early in the second period made it 2-0. But the Oilers didn't quit. They cut the margin in half early in the third period when Pisani scored again, and kept the pressure on Ward and the Hurricanes throughout the final 20 minutes, but Ward was equal to the task, making a spectacular save on Pisani's breakaway with about seven minutes left to preserve the lead.

"You've got to give Edmonton credit," Ward said. "They didn't give up, and they threw everything at us. When you look at the first goal, it was as a bad rebound on my part — a goal that I wanted to take back. You saw the same situation with the second time around, and I was fortunate to make the save."

The Oilers pulled Markkanen in the final two minutes, but Justin Williams scored into the empty net with 61 seconds remaining to assure the Hurricanes, who came into the NHL (as the Hartford Whalers) with the Oilers from the World Hockey Association in 1979, with their first Stanley Cup.

For Ward, who won only 14 times during the regular season as the backup to Martin Gerber, the victory in Game 7 was his 15th of the Playoffs. He became the first rookie since Patrick Roy 20 years earlier to lead his team to the championship and win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.

"It's a huge honor to win the award," he said. "I truly feel that you could have given it to anybody on this hockey team. And to tell you the truth, you know it's completely irrelevant. The trophy that matters the most is that Stanley Cup."

The fact that he beat his hometown team to win the Cup didn't bother him a bit.

"I don't feel bad at all," he said. "I have been blessed with tremendous support through my family and friends, back in Sherwood Park. I know they were a little bit torn before the series being hard-core Oilers fans, but they stayed loyal and supported me all along, and I am excited to go back and share it with them."


Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series