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Storm seek Memorial Cup title against Oil Kings

by Adam Kimelman

The Guelph Storm were the best team in the Ontario Hockey League this season. They're looking to expand that title to the Canadian Hockey League.

To accomplish that goal they'll have to beat the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday in the championship game of the 2014 Memorial Cup (4 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

Guelph last played Wednesday, when they beat the host London Knights 7-2 to finish round-robin play with a 3-0 record and an 18-7 goal differential.

Leading the way for the Storm is Tyler Bertuzzi, a 2013 second-round pick (No. 58) of the Detroit Red Wings, who leads all players with five goals. He's also been a successful agitator, which has helped focus the opposition's attention on him while opening space for his teammates.

Watch Memorial Cup on NHL Net-US

The Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League and Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League will meet in the Memorial Cup Final on Sunday at 4:00 pm ET. U.S. viewers can watch the game live on NHL Network.

"He's a rambunctious guy but he's got a lot of energy," Storm coach Scott Walker told Yahoo Sports. "His teammates get a lot of energy from him. There's lot of guys in the NHL that guys love to have on their team. The fans love them. The fans in the other barns hate him.

"The things [Bertuzzi] does on the ice are really good, but it's the other things that almost leaves the other guys more room to do them. If they're always focusing on him, it gives more room for Robby [Fabbri], [Kerby] Rychel, [Zack Mitchell], [Scott Kosmachuk], [Brock] McGinn and all our other great players."

Guelph has the top six scorers in the tournament, including Kosmachuk, a Winnipeg Jets prospect who had a hat trick against London and also has two assists in three games. Rychel (Columbus Blue Jackets) also has three goals and two assists. Teammates Jason Dickinson (Dallas Stars), McGinn (Carolina Hurricanes) and Nick Ebert (Los Angeles Kings) have five points each.

Fabbri, a top prospect in the 2014 NHL Draft, has one goal and three assists in four games. He's No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft.

In goal, Justin Nichols has three wins, a 2.33 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage, all tournament bests. He has stopped 112 of the 119 shots he's faced.

It's the first time Guelph has played for the Memorial Cup title since losing to the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League in 1998.

Guelph assistant general manager Chris Hajt was the captain of that 1998 Guelph team and told that the current version of the Storm has the chance to complete the final step that eluded his team, which featured future NHL players Manny Malhotra and Brian Willsie.

"The perseverance of this team, the completeness of the team from the goaltending out," Hajt said, "it's definitely the best team [in Storm history]."

Standing between Guelph and history are the WHL champion Oil Kings, who made history of their own in the semifinal on Friday. Curtis Lazar, selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 17th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, scored 2:42 into the third overtime to give Edmonton a 4-3 win against the Val-d'Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. At a total time of 102:42, it was the longest game in Memorial Cup history.

"It was a memorable night," Lazar said. "You embrace it. ... That's my first overtime junior hockey goal."

Guelph beat Edmonton 5-2 in round-robin play, but the Oil Kings will be a formidable opponent coming off their emotional win on Friday.

"I'm sure they're licking their chops," Lazar said of Guelph. "But it's the old thing where we have momentum and they haven't played in a few days."

Leading Edmonton offensively is defenseman Cody Corbett, a 20-year-old who signed with the Colorado Avalanche in March. He has five assists and fired the point shot in overtime that Lazar tipped past Val-d'Or goaltender Antoine Bibeau for the winning goal Friday.

Forward Edgars Kulda, a 2014 draft prospect, scored his team-best third goal against the Foreurs. The 19-year-old, who was not selected in the 2013 draft, is ranked 145th on Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters for the 2014 draft.

Kulda is doing his best to open the eyes of NHL scouts this time around. Prior to his strong showing at the Memorial Cup, he had 30 goals and 60 points in 66 regular-season games 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."

Lazar and Reid Petryk each have two goals and two assists. Petryk had two assists against the Foreurs, including the secondary assist on Lazar's goal.

Tristan Jarry, a 2013 second-round pick (No. 44) of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has been strong in goal for the Oil Kings. He stopped all 20 shots he faced in the three overtime periods Friday, and after allowing five goals on 32 shots in the loss to Guelph he has stopped 113 of 122 in his past three games for a .926 save percentage.


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