The second champion and third team is set for the CHL Memorial Cup starting next week as the Edmonton Oil Kings reign supreme in the WHL. The Oil Kings managed to defeat their championship rivals in the Portland Winterhawks last night in an intense game 7 battle on the road. With the win the Oil Kings became the first team to win the championship in game while on the road.
There was little doubt the Oil Kings and Winterhawks would wind up squaring off in the championships for yet a third time when the season began. Both teams had stellar seasons finishing atop or near the top of their respected conferences.
After falling behind in the series 0-2, the Oil Kings battled back and dragged the series to a game 7 and with a 4-2 win on Monday night, were able to capture their 2nd WHL title in the last 3 seasons. Their previous championship saw them down the Winterhawks in 7 games.
Griffin Reinhart was named WHL playoff MVP after he held the Winterhawks to just 19 goals in 7 games. Reinhart is a first round pick of the New York Islanders and was injured during last season’s championship loss to the Winterhawks. Despite being blanked in games 1 and 2 of the series, Curtis Lazar scored in every game after and finished the post season with 22 points in 21 games.
The Oil Kings, a very defencive focused team, were squaring off against the top 5 playoff scorers on the Winterhawks. However, a solid defence was able to deliver the Oil Kings their 2nd WHL championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup.
On the 2nd day of the Memorial Cup, the Oil Kings will face-off against the high flying and scoring Guelph Storm who won the OHL championship.
The Oil Kings used the motivation of a teammate who is no longer among them after Kristians Pelss drowned last summer. The Oil Kings held up his jersey after they win and many skated laps with the jersey to honour their late teammate. The Oil Kings are sound on defence and are riding a wave of emotion, which makes them dangerous leading into the Memorial Cup.