SHAWINIGAN, Quebec – The Edmonton Oil Kings' season is over after dropping a 6 – 1 game Thursday to the host Shawinigan Cataractes in the tie-breaker game at the Memorial Cup. The host team rode a wave of emotion and showed offensive firepower that lead them to a second place overall finish in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular season standings. The loss for the Oil Kings was the first time in the entire 2012-13 season where the team suffered three consecutive regulation losses.
"It's too bad we couldn't show it for a full game, because it's exciting when we play Oil Kings hockey. I'm disappointed that we couldn't show everyone what we were truly made of, but there's no excuses now," Keegan Lowe said. "I tried to believe as long as possible. We were talking about all the times we came back during the season. Everyone was being as positive as possible. We did not want to go out, roll over and die. We wanted to play with the heart in the third period that everyone knew he had and that we played with all year."
It will take some time for the Oil Kings to truly reflect on the remarkable season that featured 50 regular season wins, 107 points, a pair of 11-game winning streaks, a 22 game winning streak carried over to the playoffs and a Western Hockey League Championship. Most importantly, from the coaches perspective, Head Coach Derek Laxdal emphasizes the experience gained during the modern franchise’s first trip to the Memorial Cup in just the fifth year of existence is invaluable.
"It was an outstanding season for our group. I told them not to hang their heads, to walk out of that dressing room holding their heads high. It's short-term competition and anything can happen." said Laxdal "Our guys deserve a pat on the back. We've got 20 guys coming back out of a group of 25. Our goal is to get to Saskatoon next year. Next year we'll be a little hungrier."
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Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk, who’s been the face of the franchise from it’s re-birth was emotional as the thought of him playing his last game in the Oil Kings red, white and blue started to sink in.
"We came all this way and didn't play our best. It'll sting for a while." said Pysyk "If we look back, it was a good year. We won the WHL Championship. We were playing within three days of when the CHL season ends."
The home team used the raucous crowd and pure adrenalin to jump out to the early lead. St. Louis Blues draft pick Yannick Veilleux opened the scoring with a perfect deflection while parked in front of Laurent Brossoit just 7:30 into the game.
The Cataractes extended that lead late in the second period with their second powerplay of the game. Phoenix Coyotes first-round draft pick Brandon Gormley was the quarterback as usual. He teed up a perfect one-timer for his defense partner Morgan Ellis. It was 2 – 0 Shawinigan heading into the first intermission despite a 10 – 10 tie on the shot clock.
The Oil Kings came out strong in the second period but Shawinigan weathered the storm and tallied on their first scoring chance the other way. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Michael Chaput lead a 3 on 2 rush and laid down a pin-point drop pass for import Anton Zlobin to step into. The Russian wired a shot off the far post and in for his third of the tournament just 1:54 into the middle frame.
A crazy hop off the end glass resulted in the puck bouncing off Brossoit and into his own net for the Cataractes fourth goal. Kirill Kabanov received credit for his first of the tourney. Shawinigan native Michael Bournival clicked on the power play to make it 5 – 0. Pierre-Olivier Morin scored the sixth goal shorthanded.
Edmonton broke the shutout bid for Gabriel Girard with 3:10 to go in the second period on a nice, all- around passing play from Mark Pysyk, to Stephane Legault and eventually Henrik Samuelsson. The Swede/Arizona transplant roofed a breakaway goal for his second of the tournament to make the final 6 – 1.