Winterhawks edge Oil Kings

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

PORTLAND, OREGON - If the Edmonton Oil Kings go on to claim the Western Hockey League championship, Laurent Brossoit will be a candidate for playoff MVP.

But the Oil Kings goaltender will have to wait for the possibility of winning that honour, as he wasn’t able to do it all on his own Saturday night.

The Portland Winterhawks sent the series to a seventh and deciding game with a 3-2 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,947 at the Rose Garden.

Game 7 goes tonight (6 p.m.) at Rexall Place, with the winner advancing to the Memorial Cup tournament, May 17-27 in Shawinigan, Que.

“I was feeling good tonight; they came at us pretty hard in the first two periods,” said Brossoit. “I thought I was giving the team a chance to win, but in that third period I needed to make another save there.”

Brossoit turned away 42 shots in the loss as the Winterhawks dictated the play from the outset, but needed a late third-period goal from Edmonton native Oliver Gabriel to pull out the victory.

Gabriel was able to gain the zone and snap a shot over Brossoit for the winner.

It was the second goal of the game for the Winterhawks overager. Joseph Morrow also tallied for Portland, while Michael St. Croix and Stephane Legault countered for the Oil Kings.

“I pretty much just got the puck with lots of speed on the rush and caught their defence a little flatfooted,” said Gabriel.

“I had my head up and saw that they were flatfooted and I was just trying to put the shot through (Keegan) Lowe. I think their goaltender was screened a little bit, and I was able to get it over his blocker.”

The goal capped an exciting third period that saw the Oil Kings respond after the Winterhawks had taken the lead midway through the frame.

Mark Pysyk then came close to giving the visitors the lead, wiring a shot off the crossbar moments after Legault’s tying goal.

“I just fired it on net; I didn’t really see what happened, whether it went of his glove and then it hit the crossbar, I’m not really sure,” Pysyk said. “But they hit the crossbar a couple times as well, so it evened up in the end.”

St. Croix opened the scoring in the first, spinning away from a check and snapping a shot over Mac Carruth.

Gabriel tied the score with an easy tap-in just over three minutes later.

“They did come at us pretty hard, but we thought we were in a good spot at 1-1 going into the third period, on the road,” said Pysyk.

“We all know what was a stake for us. They came at us hard and we just didn’t have enough at the end.”

Morrow gave the Winterhawks the lead, redirecting a Taylor Leier centring pass through Brossoit. It was Portland’s 40th shot of the game.

Legault, tied the game shortly after, finding himself alone at the side of the net and converting into virtually an open cage.

The goal made for a tense atmosphere before Gabriel’s winner.

“This one is going to sting for a bit,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “But we just have to go home, try to regroup and come back for Game 7.”

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