Edmonton Oil Kings' Edgars Kulda lifts the Memorial Cup after beating the Guelph Storm in the Championship game of the Memorial Cup CHL hockey tournament in London

Edmonton Oil Kings' Edgars Kulda lifts the Memorial Cup after beating the Guelph Storm in the Championship game of the Memorial Cup CHL hockey tournament in London

Oil Kings hoist Memorial Cup after downing Storm in final

Inspired by their late teammate, the Edmonton Oil Kings went to their seemingly bottomless reserves to win the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The Oil Kings carried the No. 26 jersey of Kristian Pelss with them Sunday at Budweiser Gardens as they hoisted the trophy following a 6-3 win over the Guelph Storm.

LONDON, Ont. — Inspired by their late teammate, the Edmonton Oil Kings went to their seemingly bottomless reserves to win the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup.

The Oil Kings carried the No. 26 jersey of Kristian Pelss with them Sunday at Budweiser Gardens as they hoisted the trophy following a 6-3 win over the Guelph Storm.

Pelss was an Oil King two years ago when Edmonton won a Western Hockey League championship and lost their Memorial Cup tiebreaker in Shawinigan, Que. The 20-year-old Latvian died last year after diving off a bridge in Riga.

The loss of Pelss was an emotional touchstone for Edmonton this season and particularly for the eight veterans who were his teammates in 2012. Edmonton won the Memorial Cup playing with a fearless, indefatigable, physical brand of hockey.

“Everyone knows about the passing of Kristian Pelss,” Henrik Samuelsson said. “He was a good buddy of mine. I know he was watching over us today and he definitely had a part of it.”

The son of New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson scored a pair of goals, including an empty-netter, and assisted on three goals Sunday.

With four goals and three assists, undrafted Latvian left-winger Edgars Kulda was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“I kind of got lucky with that,” Kulda said. “I don’t know how I got it, honestly. It’s a pleasurable surprise for me. I’m happy to get that one too.”

Kulda contributed a goal and two assists in Sunday’s victory. Edmonton also got goals from Cody Corbett, Tyler Robertson and Mitch Moroz. Goaltender and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Tristan Jarry made 32 saves for the win.

Robby Fabbri, Stephen Pierog and Zach Mitchell replied for the Ontario Hockey League’s Storm, whose only loss of the tournament was the final. Guelph goaltender Justin Nichols stopped 40 shots.

Edmonton’s run to the Cup was a marathon in many ways. Two weeks before Sunday’s final, they blew a three-goal lead at home in Game 6 of their WHL championship series.

The Oil Kings had to travel to Portland, Ore., the following day to win Game 7 less than 24 hours later.

Their triple overtime semifinal win over the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Friday 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. In both overtime games, Edmonton had two-goal leads and third-period leads.

“We really did make it quite hard on ourselves, but it shows how much we play for each other,” Edmonton assistant captain Curtis Lazar said.

Guelph took the most efficient route to the final and were thus the more rested team. The Storm outscored their opponents by a combined 18-7 to go unbeaten through three preliminary-round games and earn the bye to the championship game.

Edmonton went 1-2 in the round robin, including a 5-2 loss to Guelph to open the tournament. But the Oil Kings played a strong two-way game Sunday using their size and toughness to both create the space to score goals and make the Storm pay a physical price for the puck.

Led by captain Griffin Reinhart, a New York Islanders prospect, they were a punishing team in their own end and were backstopped by the reliable Jarry.

“They out-willed us,” Storm coach Scott Walker said. “They were big, but we usually use our speed and we weren’t speedy tonight. When your let their size take advantage by not using your speed, it’s tough.

“I don’t think we played our best, but I’m not going to take anything away from them. They were the better team tonight. We played in fits and starts. I’m proud of the guys, but it’s a tough tournament to win.”

The Storm led 2-1 after the opening period Sunday, but the Oil Kings scored three unanswered goals in the second. When Guelph pulled within one in the third, Edmonton restored the two-goal cushion.

“We’ve got an unbelievable culture built here,” said Moroz, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick. “It doesn’t hurt when you have a guardian angel upstairs as well.

“It’s always storybook with us. We always believed in each other and we deserve this.”

A previous version of the Edmonton Oil Kings won Memorial Cups in 1966 and 1963 before relocating to Portland. This was the first Memorial Cup in the current franchise’s short seven-year history.

The WHL ended a three-year run of Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams winning the Cup. The Oil Kings were also the first WHL team to claim it since the Spokane Chiefs in 2008.

WHL teams have won the most Cups since the tournament went to a round-robin format in 1972 with 19. The OHL has won 14 and the QMJHL 10.

The Memorial Cup has been given to Canada’s junior hockey champions since 1919 in memory of those who died in the First World War.

Sixty teams in the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior leagues begin play every September. The three league champions join a host team in the annual tournament to determine the Canadian Hockey League champions.

The 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup will be held in Quebec City.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in central Alberta leaves one man in hospital and another in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Be kind and wear pink for Pink Shirt Day

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

Phone lines were swamped and the Alberta Health Services website crashed on… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau as they meet virtually with United States President Joe Biden from his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Biden on China’s detention of two Michaels: ‘Human beings are not bartering chips’

But the White House offered no hints about how it might help secure their release

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney makes his way to the chamber in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Kenney says a recent bump in energy prices in the third quarter of the budget is helping the bottom line as his government prepares to introduce its 2021-22 budget. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Higher oil prices boosting Alberta’s bottom line as budget looms Thursday: Kenney

EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says a recent bump in energy prices… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien gives instructions during practice in Brossard, Que., Tuesday, July 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CP NewsAlert: Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien

Assistant coach appointed interim head coach

(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
NFB hiring new execs to lead anti-racist practices, forge ties with Indigenous groups

TORONTO — The National Film Board of Canada is creating two key… Continue reading

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Schitt’s Creek’ earns third consecutive ensemble win at ACTRA Toronto Awards

Tamara Podemski won outstanding performance by a female on ‘Coroner’

NBA chooses All-Star reserves, with Zion among first-timers

NBA chooses All-Star reserves, with Zion among first-timers

FILE - In this March 9, 2020, file photo, New York Yankees' Clint Frazier runs to the dugout during a spring training baseball game in Clearwater, Fla. Brett Gardner's return to the Yankees won't displace Clint Frazier from taking over as New York's starting left fielder. Manager Aaron Boone said Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, that the 26-year-old Frazier remained his first choice in left while cautioning developments during a season could alter intentions. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Yankees finalize deals for Brett Gardner, Justin Wilson

Yankees finalize deals for Brett Gardner, Justin Wilson

Jon Rahm tees off on the 10th hole in front of cardboard cutout fans during the first round of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament at Riviera Country Club, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
West Coast behind, more fans about to show up on PGA Tour

West Coast behind, more fans about to show up on PGA Tour

Most Read