In a battle pitting East vs. West, two league champions are putting their seasons on the line Friday, as Griffin Reinhart and the Edmonton Oil Kings get set to face off against the Val d’Or Foreurs in the Memorial Cup semi-final at 7 p.m.
The winner of the single-elimination contest advances to play the Guelph Storm for the 2014 Mastercard Memorial Cup on Sunday afternoon, while the loser leaves London, Ontario empty handed.
"At this point in the playoffs and into the Memorial Cup, most guys have been in situations like that and played in the big games," Reinhart told OilKings.ca. "They expect a lot of pressure and I think they're handling it pretty well and will know how to play."
Reinhart and Oil Kings get a chance to avenge Tuesday’s heartbreaking double-overtime loss to the Foreurs. The Oil Kings held a 2-0 and 3-2 lead in the game, before allowing the tying goal in the third period.
Reinhart has an assist through three games at the Memorial Cup, along with an even rating and four penalty minutes. Reinhart will be tasked with shutting down electrifying QMJHL scoring leader Anthony Mantha. In their last outing, Reinhart limited the CHL player of the year nominee to one assist.
"They've got a lot of talent and a lot of skill up front,” Reinhart told his team’s website. “Their back-end is good. We've got to keep them to the outside."
"It's the character we have in the room. We never give up and we trust each other. Everyone has faith in one another. We play well and do it for each other." - Griffin Reinhart
This is the Oil Kings biggest game since a dramatic game seven win over the Portland Winterhawks to claim the WHL championship and qualify for the Memorial Cup. Reinhart and the 2012 incarnation of the Oil Kings also took the WHL championship in a deciding seventh game.
“We've responded well and done well in games that have been like a Game 7 situation,” Reinhart said.
Reinhart is appearing in his first Memorial Cup semi-final, as the Oil Kings were eliminated in the tiebreaker of the 2012 tournament. This year, the Oil Kings bypassed the tiebreaker, as London was eliminated after going 0-3 in preliminary play.
"It's the character we have in the room,” Reinhart said. “We never give up and we trust each other. Everyone has faith in one another. We play well and do it for each other."
For the Islanders top pick in 2012 and the entire Oil Kings team, making the semi-final round is not enough.
It’s Memorial Cup or bust.