May 24, 2012
Cataractes embarrass Oil KingsHosts send Edmonton home with 6-1 farewell
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY
SHAWINIGAN, QUE. - Ever get invited to a really huge, really cool party before getting all nervous and throwing up on the centrepiece?
Then you know how the Edmonton Oil Kings feel.
Embarrassed. Hurt. Mad at themselves. And, yes, a little sick to their stomachs.
“It sucks, nobody wants to go out this way,” said veteran Jordan Peddleafter a nightmarish 6-1 loss to the host Shawinigan Cataractes ended their Memorial Cup. “We had an incredible season. To go out this way is not the way you want to do it. I don’t know what to say. Nobody in Shawinigan got to see our best hockey.”
Struggling to find their game all tournament, the Oil Kings went searching in the wrong direction in the tie-breaker game. A four-goal, second period train wreck turned 2-0 into 6-0 before the night was half over. They didn’t know whether to be stunned or devastated, but with 30 minutes to play there was time for both.
“It wasn’t the same hockey we played all season,” said Griffin Reinhart. “We just didn’t play like a team. This was such a fun season to be a part of ... it’s just too bad it had to come to an end like this.”
The Oil Kings can still look back on their year and call it a great success -- winning their league and getting here just five years after expansion -- but they still leave Shawiningan with the biggest regret you can have in sports: being sent home from the championship without giving your best.
This will haunt them until the day come back and make things right.
“If we would have played our best we definitely could have won,” said Keegan Lowe. “It’s tough to think about that. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get to show all of Canada what we’re made of.
“To go out like this really stings. We accomplished so much this year -- fifty wins, first place in the regular season, Eastern Conference champs, WHL champs -- that’s special right there. It would have been nice to add one more to the collection, but we have to walk out with our heads high. We had a tremendous year.
“I’m sure Edmonton is proud of us. I hope they are. We battled hard all year. We’re sorry we couldn’t do this for them. They were great fans all year.”
Whether it was youth, inexperience or stage fright, the Oil Kings looked nothing like the team that put up 107 points in the regular season and stormed through the playoffs. Nothing like the club that won 22 in a row and showed the heart and resilience of a champion in beating Portland in Game 7 of the WHL final.
“It’s tough, it sucks,” said captain Mark Pysyk. “That we came all this way and didn’t play our best is definitely going to sting for a while. It’s not like we just didn’t play our best, other teams were good, and they forced us to do things we weren’t used to.
“But if we look back it was a good year. Nobody’s happy with what happened here, but we were within three days of winning the whole CHL.”
The Oil Kings were still in the fight at the first intermission. The second period, however, was a disaster.
What’s French for the roof fell in? Whatever it is, that’s what happened.
Two shots and two goals at 1:54 and 2:56, and the dream was dead with almost 40 minutes left before they could even close the coffin lid.
Soon it was 5-0, then 6-0 and if either side could had the option they’d have shut it down for good after 40 minutes -- Shawinigan needed to rest up for Friday’s semifinal with Saint John and Edmonton needed to get out of there and hide.
Those last 30 minutes were tough. But nothing they couldn’t handle.
“In the third period we were just trying to play with a little pride,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “And show the country that our team doesn’t quit.”