Oil Kings dispatch Winterhawks, heading to Memorial Cup
Edmonton scores 4 times in 2nd period in Game 7
It took one more day than they would've liked, but the Edmonton Oil Kings are Western Hockey League champions for the second time in three seasons.
Four different Oil Kings scored in a decisive second period as Edmonton won Game 7 of the WHL final 4-2 over the Portland Winterhawks.
In Sunday's Game 6 in Edmonton, the Oil Kings watched a three-goal lead evaporate in the third period before losing 6-5 in overtime.
Edmonton again built a three-goal lead through two periods on Monday, and didn't let this one get away.
Mitch Moroz, Curtis Lazar, Reid Petryk and Mads Eller all scored in a four-goal second period for the Oil Kings and Goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 32 shots in victory.
Eller's brother, Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller, tweeted his congratulations after the game:
Oliver Bjorkstrand and Brendan Leipsic scored for Portland, which got 29 saves from goalie Brendan Burke.
As the Oil Kings celebrated on the ice after the game at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they held the No. 26 jersey of Kristians Pelss, a former teammate who drowned last summer at age 20.
"He's been with us through this whole thing," said Lazar. "He motivates us to make ourselves better. We know he's looking over us, we played for him and it showed."
Bjorkstrand bags 16th
Bjorkstrand scored his league-leading 16th goal of the playoffs, but his first of the final series, at 4:42 of the first to give the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead.
"They came at us hard for 10 minutes but we weathered the storm," said Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal, who won a Memorial Cup championship as a player with the Winterhawks in the same building in 1983. "I told the guys I won a championship here and I wanted them to do it, too."
The Oil Kings busted out in the second period, scoring three times in less than six minutes to take command. Moroz scored at the 3:50 mark of the period to tie the game, then Lazar and Petryk scored 40 seconds apart near the midway point of the period to make it 3-1.
"We actually got kick-started with us taking a penalty," said Lazar. "We wanted to kill it off, and it actually led to some offence and we just kept rolling."
Eller's goal with 2:43 left in the period gave the Oil Kings their second consecutive three-goal lead through two periods.
Leipsic scored with 3:22 left in regulation, but the Winterhawks couldn't pull off a second unlikely comeback in two days.
"We talked that the sun was going to come up today and our energy would come up, too," said Laxdal. "We tried to motivate our guys all day. Our guys were gutsy."
The Oil Kings are off to the Memorial Cup, which begins Friday in London, Ont.
This was the third straight year Edmonton and Portland have met in the WHL final series. The Oil Kings prevailed in seven games in 2012, while the Winterhawks won in six games last season.
Portland appeared in the WHL finals for the fourth straight season, but dropped to 1-3 in those series.
"It'll always hang there, that disappointment," said Portland coach Mike Johnston. "Eventually we'll look back at our records and conference and division championships, but we were so close to tasting victory.
"We know how hard it is to move on, we're fortunate to have had some cracks at it the last few years."
With files from CBCSports.ca