EDMONTON - What’s the biggest difference between these Oil Kings and the overwhelmed 2012 team that crashed and burned in its Memorial Cup debut? It might just be two years and the poise that comes with it.
This is a team that believes. It believed it could defeat the seemingly unbeatable Winterhawks before the WHL championship started, it still believed after falling behind 2-0, it even believed it could win Game 7 on the road 24 hours after blowing a glorious opportunity at home in spectacularly unfathomable fashion.
Eight players remain from the 2012 Oil Kings, and their extraordinary self-possession is embodied in veteran leaders Griffin Reinhart and Curtis Lazar. This is almost certainly the former’s junior hockey swan song, there’s no guarantee the latter will be back, either, and they’re playing like there’s no tomorrow.
The Oil Kings don’t fear any opponent, nor do they have fear of failure. That’s a combination rivals should be afraid of.