EDMONTON - Last time it was overtime. This time it was in time.
With an added twist of a hometown Hollywood-style ending.
Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk broke a 3-3 tie with 55 seconds left to give the Oil Kings a 3-2 series lead in the WHL final over the Portland Winterhawks at Rexall Place Thursday night.
Pysyk burst down the middle between a pair of Winterhawks defenceman and sent a wrist-shot past Winterhawk goalie Mac Carruth, the biggest goal of the Sherwood Park native’s career.
“Absolutely,” said Pysyk, before pausing. “I haven’t scored that many goals to compare it to.”
“But it’s over now and we have one more to focus on.”
He created his own chance, knocking down the puck and charging to the net, a surprising aspect of his game that has come to the forefront in the last two wins.
“I just got to the middle to get a better shooting angle and throw it on net. He was probably expecting a hard shot,” Pysyk said of Carruth. “I think I fooled him with a little knuckle puck. But it’s pretty much an overtime game (at that point), where you’ve got to get everything on net.”
“What can you say about that finish,” said Kings coach Derek Laxdal, shaking his head. “Mark’s been a horse in this series … We had a great penalty kill (late in the third), but at that point on, it’s basically an overtime.
“We came out of the gates little slow, but to battle back and take the lead going into the third shows you the commitment by our guys.
Once again it was a tight matchup, with little to compare between the two high-tempo teams.
Marcel Noebels opened the scoring on the Winterhawks third shot of the game, and the German was key in tying it at 3-3, setting up Bartschi from behind the net and it was buried before you could blink on the first shot of the third.
It was a tighter, tentative start after Tuesday’s barnburner in Portland — more chess match than track meet, but still uptempo.
Peddle evened the score at 1-1 at the 18-minute mark of the first, firing it past Carruth at exactly 18:00.
Peddle was the offensive star with two goals and an assist.
His second-period goal made it 3-2, when Carruth couldn’t corral a Pysyk shot and Peddle pounced on the clearing miss to backhand it into the basket, making it 3-2 at 7:20.
Peddle assisted on a low Griffin Reinhart pointshot that ping-ponged its way in at 4:44 of the second.
“I’m playing hockey as if I’ve got one game left in this league,” said the 20-year-old. “Play that way every shift and make the most of it.”
He does have at least one more game: Saturday at 7 p.m. in Portland.