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Kulda, Oil Kings top Storm to win 2014 Memorial Cup

by Adam Kimelman

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Edgars Kulda doesn't want to go through another NHL draft without hearing his name called. If his performance at the 2014 Memorial Cup was a final audition, he shouldn't be concerned.

Kulda had a goal and two assists to help Edmonton to a 6-3 win against the Guelph Storm on Sunday to win the national championship of Canadian junior hockey. He was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

"I kind of got lucky with that," Kulda said of winning MVP, according to The Canadian Press. "I don't know how I got it, honestly. It's a pleasurable surprise for me. I'm happy to get that one too."

Henrik Samuelsson, a 2012 first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes (No. 27), had two goals and three assists for the Oil Kings. Mitchell Moroz (Edmonton Oilers) had a goal and an assist, and Cody Corbett (Colorado Avalanche) and Tyler Robertson also scored for the Oil Kings. Goaltender Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh Penguins) stopped 32 of 35 shots for the win.

Edmonton was playing two days after winning the longest game in Memorial Cup history, needing three overtimes to beat the Val-d'Or Foreurs in the semifinal Friday.

Top 2014 NHL Draft prospect Robert Fabbri had a goal and an assist for Guelph. Zack Mitchell (Minnesota Wild) and Stephen Pierog also scored for the Storm. Goaltender Justin Nichols allowed five goals on 44 shots.

Guelph had gone unbeaten in round-robin play, outscoring its opponents 18-7, including a 5-2 defeat of the Oil Kings.

"They out-willed us," Guelph coach Scott Walker said. "They were big, but we usually use our speed and we weren't speedy tonight. When your let their size take advantage by not using your speed, it's tough.

"I don't think we played our best, but I'm not going to take anything away from them. They were the better team tonight. We played in fits and starts. I'm proud of the guys, but it's a tough tournament to win."

The win was an emotional one for Kulda, a native of Latvia like former Edmonton forward Kristians Pelss, who drowned last June. Pelss' No. 26 jersey was a prominent part of the on-ice celebration after Edmonton's win.

"We've got an unbelievable culture built here," Moroz said. "It doesn't hurt when you have a guardian angel upstairs as well."

Guelph led 2-1 after one period, but Edmonton scored three times in the second to take a 4-2 lead it never relinquished.

Robertson started the run 1:58 into the period when he grabbed a loose puck out of a scrum off a faceoff in the circle on the right side of the Guelph zone and scored his first of the tournament to tie the game 2-2.

Then with Edmonton on the power play, Samuelsson carried the puck into the Guelph zone on the right side and sent it back to Ashton Sautner trailing to create a 4-on-3 advantage. Sautner moved it down low on the left side to Kulda, who beat Nichols over his blocker at 6:06 of the period to put the Oil Kings ahead 3-2.

The goal was Kulda's fourth, one off the tournament lead, and his seven points tied for first.

Kulda is No. 145 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft. That comes after he had 30 goals and 60 points in 66 regular-season games in the Western Hockey League and 10 goals and 22 points in 21 WHL playoff games.

"He's had a great regular season and he's continued it in the playoffs," Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal told the Edmonton Sun. "He's one of those guys that brings his A-game every night, and when he does, he's effective."

Moroz gave Edmonton a 4-2 lead at 14:19 when the Oil Kings turned play the other way after a Guelph neutral-zone turnover, with Kulda taking a chip pass from Blake Orban. Kulda cut into the middle of the Guelph zone and slid the puck to his left to Moroz, who fired a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Nichols over his glove.

Mitchell made it a one-goal game 3:23 into the third when he pulled a puck off the wall in the Edmonton zone and was in the right place when Kerby Rychel (Columbus Blue Jackets) raced behind the Oil Kings net and threw it back in front for Mitchell to tap in from the left side.

Edmonton stopped any Storm momentum 1:37 later when Samuelsson finished a give-and-go with Kulda to make it 5-3.

Pierog gave Guelph a 2-1 with 3:24 left in the first period when he scored off the rebound of a Pius Suter shot. Pierog, a 2014 draft prospect, chipped a puck past three Edmonton players to a streaking Suter. Jarry stopped Suter's shot but slipped out of position, and Pierog had an open net to bang in the rebound.

Corbett tied the game 1-1 when he scored late in a 5-on-3 Oil Kings power play. Edmonton worked the puck around the Guelph zone, with Griffin Reinhart (New York Islanders) sending a pass through the zone to Samuelsson below the left circle. Samuelsson one-touched the puck to Corbett above the circles, and the defenseman fired a shot that went through a screen by Curtis Lazar (Ottawa Senators) and past Nichols at 9:38.

Fabbri, the top 2014 NHL Draft prospect playing in the Memorial Cup, opened the scoring 60 seconds into the game. Mitchell intercepted a pass by Edmonton's Dysin Mayo in the neutral zone and started a 3-on-2 break back into the Edmonton zone. Mitchell cut to the right wing and centered a pass to Fabbri, who slid the puck to the left wing to Rychel.

Rychel sent it back to Fabbri on the far post, and he tapped it in for his second goal of the tournament.

Fabbri is No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft. He had two goals and four assists in four Memorial Cup games. That came after he tied for fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with 45 goals in 58 games and then was named the most valuable player of the OHL playoffs after he had 13 goals and 28 points in 16 games.


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