Friday, May 11, 2012

Kings for a day or more

The only game on Thursday night was game five of the WHL Finals featuring New York Rangers prospect Michael St. Croix (2011 4th) and his Edmonton Oil Kings hosting the Portland Winterhawks.

We were wondering how the two teams are going to equal the show that they put on in game four and we were not disappointed.  Hands down, this has been the most exciting of the three CHL finals.

This is the kind of games you want to see in your championship round as two very close teams have put on quite the show.  Other than Portland's 5-1 win in game two, each game has been a one goal game.

Portland as they did in game four, struck first scoring the game's first goal just 1:45 into the game.  Portland held the lead for most of the period and just like in the game four, Edmonton got the tying goal at the end of the period.

And just like in game four, the stat sheet is not going to tell the entire story about how Michael St. Croix played. In this game, the stat sheet will show that St. Croix had the primary assist on Edmonton's second goal, that he was a +2 with four the PIMs.

What it will not show you is that St. Croix had a very bad game, no legs, slow with his decision-making and one of the penalties he took was really a bad delay of game call.

It was one of those nights where nothing would go right for St. Croix who we think now is pressing because he hasn't really produced much in the finals. This was a night where St. Croix got bailed out by his teammates on several occasions.

Edmonton would finish the second with a 3-2 lead, St. Croix, having the primary assist as we said on Edmonton's second goal. It was St. Croix's fourth assist of the finals and his 16th point of the playoffs overall.

However unlike Portland's lead in the first period, Edmonton's lead did not last a minute as Portland scored on a power-play 43 seconds after Edmonton's goal.

But this time, Edmonton responded with another gold of their own less than 2 minutes later and was able to take a 3-2 into the second intermission.

In the third, Portland tied the game a little over 5 minutes into the period. The two teams went at it as they have for most of the series and it really looked like this game was heading into its second consecutive overtime.

Edmonton's captain Mark Pysyk had other intentions and just after they entered the final minute of regulation, Pysyk entered the Portland's zone and fired a wrist shot that beat Portland goalie Mac Carruth over his shoulder to give Edmonton a 4-3 lead with just 56 seconds remaining in regulation.

Portland pulled their goalie and had a couple of good scoring chances but Edmonton was able to survive for the win, and a 3-2 series lead. Edmonton has a chance to win its first WHL Championship Saturday night in Portland but we still think the series will go on to a seventh game on Mother's Day back in Edmonton.

Perhaps the best thing that came out of this game was seeing over 11,000 fans in Rexall Place to support the Oil Kings.  No disrespect to the NHL team but the Oil Kings deserved much more support over the season than they really got from the Edmonton area.

Meanwhile over at the RBC Cup, Steven Fogarty (NYR 2011 3rd) and his Penticton Vees had the day off as they waited to see who they would be facing in the semifinals on Saturday.  Penticton finished second in the round-robin and will take on the Soo Thunderbirds Saturday evening.

If they win, then they will advance to the finals, which will also be held on Sunday.

(Oil King logo - courtesy Edmonton Oil Kings)

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