PORTLAND, OR - The Edmonton Oil Kings captured their second Ed Chynoweth Cup in three years with a 4-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks in game seven of the WHL final, becoming the first road team in league history to win game seven of the championship series.
Down 2-0 in the series, the Oil Kings won three straight to take the lead heading into game six. A huge breakaway goal in game three by Luke Bertolucci served as an inspirational moment for the team. Then in game six on home ice, with a chance to close out the series, Edmonton watched as two three-goal leads slipped away and Portland forced game seven. The unpredictability of this series helped put into light the resiliency of the Oil Kings.
“They were starting their celebrations when we were down 2-0 and I think that really motivated our group,” Edmonton Head Coach Derek Laxdal said. “We had them back home and being down 2-0 in our building and the guys did a great job and the Luke Bertolucci goal was just inspirational and then we came back. To win two games in their building says a lot about our hockey club. We earned it. We definitely earned this series and we earned the title.”
Oil Kings forward Mitch Moroz nearly scored on a steep-angle shot but the puck was kept out by goaltender Brendan Burke, who made his first start of the WHL final.
|Photo by Marko Ditkun/Edmonton Oil Kings |
Portland scored on the ensuing rush. Oliver Bjorkstrand’s shot found twine upstairs, above the blocker-side shoulder of goaltender Tristan Jarry at 4:42 of the opening period.
It appeared as though Curtis Lazar scored the game-tying goal on the power play at 8:33. However, the goal went to video review and was waved off as Lazar had kicked the puck in.
Edmonton had a great chance, with around eight minutes remaining in the first, to tie things up with a 2-on-1 rush as Lazar crossed the blue line. Lazar fed Brett Pollock backdoor but Burke slid across the crease to make the save with his body.
After killing off a penalty at the start of the second period, the Oil Kings would even things up. Moroz scooped up the puck in the slot and went five-hole on Burke for the equalizer. Moroz was assisted by Edgars Kulda and Ashton Sautner.
“We’re such a character-built team,” Moroz said. “We’re a team in every aspect and we just never gave up. We never gave up on each other and for 60 minutes we were focused and all business.”
The Oil Kings took the lead at 9:02 of the middle frame courtesy of a shorthanded goal by Lazar. Reid Petryk was in the box for roughing when Mads Eller set up Lazar with a drop pass and the Oil King sniped it far side of Burke. Dysin Mayo recorded the second assist.
40 seconds later the Oil Kings would increase their lead to two. Petryk put a great move on Burke from in tight and went forehand-backhand for a pretty goal and the 3-1 lead. Riley Kieser and Henrik Samuelsson had the helpers.
|Photo by Marko Ditkun/Edmonton Oil Kings |
Jarry robbed Portland’s Brendan Leipsic with just over six minutes remaining in the second period. Leipsic fired a backdoor shot on what looked like an empty net but Jarry slid across to make the big-time save.
The Oil Kings surged to a three-goal lead at 17:17 of the middle frame. Portland defenceman Mathew Dumba fell to the ice allowing Edmonton to gain the blue line on a 3-on-1 rush. Luke Bertolucci found Eller with a centring pass and Eller’s one-timer found the back of the net.
“It’s a game of momentum and you could see all the swings going back and forth,” Oil Kings Captain Griffin Reinhart said. “Both teams had their times where they were playing better hockey and we’ve always responded well to adversity and we’ve shown that by coming back here up (three goals) going into the third and be able to hold on this time.”
With 12:58 remaining in the third period, there was a mad scramble out in front of Jarry with the goaltender being pushed into the net with bodies on top of him. Although the red light did not come on, the play went to video review and it was determined that there was no goal. Edmonton continued to hold their three-goal lead.
The Oil Kings had two three-goal leads disappear in game six but were relentless in the third period tonight, staying on the attack.
It wasn’t until 16:38 of the final frame that the Winterhawks would close the gap to two. Leipsic scored on the power play, assisted by Taylor Leier and Nicolas Petan.
That’s as close as Portland would get however as the Oil Kings would be crowned champions.
“I’m trying to soak it up,” Moroz said. “It’s hard to believe. It’s surreal at this point. You can’t really put it into words. I’m so proud of the guys just to battle to get to this point and give ourselves a chance and then we did it.”