SHAWINIGAN - It’s a Sea Dog eat dog world, and on Monday night at the Memorial Cup, the Edmonton Oil Kings were the wrong dog.
Their quest to be the champs was met with some painful chomps. Saint John bared its fangs in an impressive 5-2 victory that also served as a statement game for the suddenly-revitalized tournament favourites.
The Oil Kings, up 1-0 heading into the contest, were a win away from guaranteeing themselves at least a berth in the tournament semifinal, while the Sea Dogs, after an opening game loss to London, were one game away from being in serious, serious trouble.
The difference in urgency was quite apparent. Saint John was just a step better most of the night, and would have made the beating even worse were it not for Oil Kings netminder Laurent Brossoit.
So, after four days of hockey, they have settled nothing.
Edmonton beat Shawinigan, Shawinigan beat London, London beat Saint John and Saint John beat Edmonton.
Everybody is dead even at 1-1
The Oil Kings will settle their fate, one way or another, with Tuesday’s game against the Knights. A win means a trip to the semifinal, a loss drops them into a playoff tiebreaker with the loser of Wednesday’s game between Shawinigan and Saint John.
In Edmonton’s case, winning a Memorial Cup championship would mean five games in seven days.
Saint John opened the scoring on a bit of a lucky one when Zack Phillips threw one at the net from a seemingly impossible angle from the corner. Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit, who wasn’t expecting it, didn’t move until it was already behind him.
A goal at 4:23 is exactly what Saint John needed, but the lead didn’t last long.
With Devon Oliver-Dares in the penalty box for tripping, Edmonton went to work on the power play, tying the game on Oiler draft pick Kristians Pelss second of the tournament (a chest-high deflection that required a video review).
The first period ended 1-1.
Saint John controlled the momentum early in the second period, spending most of it in Edmonton’s end. Moments after Danick Gauthier hit the post, Jonathan Huberdeau scored on breakaway to make it 2-1 for the Sea Dogs at 4:42.
They continued applying the pressure, and were up 12-6 on shots when a Gauthier shot hit a couple of legs on the way to the net and dribbled past Brossoit to make it 3-1.
The Oil Kings were in trouble.
The deficit seemed to light a spark, however. The Kings came to life with some pressure of their own and cut the lead to 3-2 on a nice deke by Legault, courtesy of a nice pass from Curtis Lazar at 16:56 to make it 3-2 at the second intermission.
A late goal from Phillips and an empty netter sealed Edmonton’s fate.
LATE HITS... With ice conditions at Centre Bionest becoming an issue, the Host Committee brought in Mike Craig, an ice expert from Calgary, to see if he can help. He’s examining the situation and will make some recommendations on Tuesday. Things weren’t as horrible on Monday as they were on the weekend, despite the 30° C heat.
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