Oil Kings' Bertolucci making the most of his time

Luke Bertolucci says playing at the Memorial Cup has been a lot of fun. (Mike Hansen, QMI Agency)

Luke Bertolucci says playing at the Memorial Cup has been a lot of fun. (Mike Hansen, QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:47 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - The thing about the Memorial Cup is that you’re probably playing with or against some guys who will one day play for the Stanley Cup.

But there are also guys playing here to whom this IS their Stanley Cup.

This is their ultimate.

This is their pinnacle.

This is their moment.

Luke Bertolucci of the Edmonton Oil Kings figures to be one of those players.

And if it turns out that he is, boy, is he making the most of his moment.

Bertolucci scored the key goal to turn the series around after the Oil Kings lost the first two games and were down 2-0 against the Portland Winterhawks in the Game 3 of the WHL Final.

And he’s the little guy who scored two more big goals here Sunday night to seal the deal in a 5-2 win over the London Knights.

Bertolucci, 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, only managed to manufacture eight goals in 104 career regular season games.

He now has scored 10 in 42 post-season games.

“I don’t know if I just get excited for the playoffs or what,” said Bertolucci of his numbers.

“But I noticed that, too.

“Now I have to figure out my regular season and I’ll be good to go.”

Asked if he has an adrenalin thing that kicks in, he didn’t think about it for even a second.

“Definitely. You grow up watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. You see that every game is such a big game. You just want to be in that situation and try to take advantage of it,” he said.

“You never say never with a kid,” said coach Derek Laxdal of the 19-year-old right winger who didn’t get selected in his draft year last year and isn’t on any of the lists this year unless he’s put himself in play in the last couple of weeks here, which is possible.

“I learned that lesson when I played. They said guys would never make the NHL and they do,” said Laxdal.

“For some of these kids, it could be their Stanley Cup. But at the end of the day it could be the spring pad that launches for a much greater career. You never know. Confidence is huge for these kids. If you have success here, maybe you get an opportunity to go to a training camp and open up some eyes.

“He plays a hard game,” he said of the Trail, B.C., product.

“If you look back he was a 10th-round pick in the bantam draft but he played an important part on that team in the B.C. Cup back when he was 15.

“He’s the type of kid who just goes. He doesn’t quit. And one thing I really liked in the last one is that you could see the intensity in his game and the velocity of his shot. I don’t think he’s had that type of confidence in a while.”

The photo of the expressions of absolute joy, with everybody on the bench just beaming for the guy as Bertolucci returned to the bench after scoring Sunday night told another part of the story.

“Aw, that was awesome,” said the kid, beaming himself.

“I got a lot of support, not only from them but from family and friends.”

And as to whether this is his Stanley, he said you have to live the moment.

“I don’t know what my future holds. I’ve been blessed so far. I’m not worried about it. Hopefully I can make an impact somewhere, but I’m not worried about it. I’m just hoping to help my team win right now.”

He knows his size is against him but he said if you watch him enough you know he plays bigger than his stature.

“I’m definitely not worried about that. I don’t think because I’m a lot shorter than the next guy that I’m going to back down. I think like I’m the same size.”

He says he sees himself as a Brad Marchant or a Brendan Gallagher.

“They both work really hard. They’re both gritty. They both don’t back down.”

Bertolucci says whatever happens here, he’s making sure to savour every second.

“Absolutely,” he said. “One hundred per cent.

“I haven’t had this much fun in hockey in a long time. Just being out there with the guys on such a big stage. It’s been unreal. I’m just soaking it all in. On the ice. Off the ice. You look around at all the festivities. It’s been a lot of fun. And I’m definitely looking forward to the next few days.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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