Heading into the Memorial Cup on Sunday night, there weren’t many people giving the Edmonton Oil Kings a large chance of coming out on top, and how could they? The Guelph Storm had an absolutely dominate round robin in the tournament and earned themselves a bye right into the finals, what could go wrong?
The Storm had flew through the tournament, virtually untouched. They scored goals 18 goals throughout their first three games of the tournament, however in the finals, they couldn’t muster the goal scoring they needed. The Oil Kings, who usually focus of defence, managed to muster 6 goals past the Storm en route to capturing the 2014 Memorial Cup and bringing it back to the WHL.
For the Guelph Storm, the loss was stunning. They had arguably been on of the best junior hockey teams in the entire CHL throughout both the playoffs and the regular season. They outscored opponents at will, running almost everyone out of the rink. Their impressive season went for not on Sunday night when the Oil Kings came out of nowhere to snatch away the Memorial Cup.
While it’s easy to focus on what the Storm did wrong in the finals, credit needs to be given to the Oil Kings who over came all odds, including a triple OT semi-final win, to win the Memorial Cup. They banded together as a team in honour of their late teammate and followed up an impressive WHL cup championship over their rivals, coming out as the best CHL tam of 2014. Tristan Jarry had a solid night between the pipes facing 35 shots allowing just 3 goals. Jarry was unfazed by the CHL’s best offence, he stood tall in the first period when the Storm poured on the pressure and as a the day went on was clearly in their heads as their shots became almost too perfect. Henrik Samuelsson led the way on offence with 2 goals and 3 assists.
For the Storm, Justin Nichols was just not good enough between the pipes. There had been questions about his play all season long, but the Storms offence masked what Nichols lacked between the pipes. All season long Nichols found a way to win behind a power house offence.
At the end of the game, the Oil Kings brought out the jersey of their late teammate Kristian Pelss, the number 26th was raised high as the boys from the WHL celebrated their championship. It was a tiring tournament for the Oil Kings who faced many a over time game including a blown three-goal lead at home in Game 6 of their WHL championship series, game 7 less than 24 hours later. Their triple overtime semifinal win over the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Friday, which was the longest game in tournament history at 102 minutes 42 seconds. Add in a double overtime loss to the Foreurs in the preliminary round and the Oil Kings had played the equivalent of two more games in the tournament than Guelph heading into Sunday’s game. To boot In both overtime games, Edmonton had two-goal leads and third-period leads.
Rest proved to be the biggest curse in the Memorial Cup this year. The London Knights had to wait for the other CHL teams to finish their playoffs to begin the tournament and were swept. The Storm had to await the winner of the semi-final on Friday, before the final on Sunday and went on to lose in the finals. The tired Oil Kings banded together to play one last game as the underdogs.
The Oil Kings proved that their offence could be just as good as their defence. Led by Griffin Reinhart, Curtis Lazar and Henrik Samuelsson, they proved to be the best team in the tournament. With some solid offence, sound goaltender and the bond of teammates, the Oil Kings brought the 2014 Memorial Cup trophy back to the WHL for the first time in three years. Congratulations Oil Kings!