Foreurs prove to be royal pain for Oil Kings
Goal in double overtime lifts Foreurs to victory in Memorial Cup
LONDON, Ont. — The Oil Kings still have life at the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup Tournament, but they’ll need the kindness of some strangers from Guelph to make it a little easier.
Anthony Richard scored on a breakaway at 1:15 of double overtime Tuesday night to lift the Val d’Or Foreurs to a 4-3 round robin victory over Edmonton, giving the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions a 2-1 won-lost record and a berth in Friday’s tournament semifinal.
Edmonton would have advanced to the semifinal had it won, so the stakes were the same for both teams.
Val d’Or’s opponent in that semifinal could very well be the WHL champion Oil Kings, provided the Guelph Storm, sitting at 2-0, defeat the host London Knights in the final round robin match tonight.
If London wins, it will play Edmonton in a tiebreaker on Thursday night that would determine Val d’Or’s semifinal dance partner.
After playing more than 81 minutes on Tuesday night, the last thing the Oil Kings want is an extra game on Thursday, but that’s now out of their hands.
The outcome Tuesday night was very much in Edmonton’s hands — the Oil Kings held an early 2-0 lead and led 3-2 with less than five minutes to go in regulation — until it wasn’t. That was owing to a combination of their own bad judgment, one questionable non-call on a should-have-been icing, and some bad bounces.
Hockey, in other words.
On the game-winner, the Oil Kings had control of the puck in the Val d’Or zone. But Henrik Samuelsson’s pass back to Griffin Reinhart at the point bounced over the defenceman’s stick. The opportunistic Richard sped off with the loose puck and beat Oil Kings goalie Tristan Jarry to end the marathon game.
“Look at their first goal,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “We had complete control and instead of bringing it out on the weak side (where there was) no traffic, we bring it up the strong side, turn it over and it’s in our net.
“You talk about the game being a game of bounces. Look at their second goal, it hits a broken stick, bounces by (defenceman Ashton) Sautner, they go in for a score.
“The third goal, we thought there should have been an icing call on the play, there wasn’t. Then (Reinhart) misses the clearing attempt and it ends up in our net to tie the game.
“And the fourth goal, again, another bounce over our stick, and it ends up in our net.’
The bounces and the momentum all were going Edmonton’s way early. The Oil Kings jumped to their 2-0 lead on goals by Reid Petryk and Curtis Lazar by the nine-minute mark of the first period.
Shortly after the mid-point of the first period, here came Oil Kings winger Edgars Kulda on a breakaway. He was slashed as he closed in on net, and a penalty shot was awarded.
But Val d’Or goalie Antoine Bibeau stuffed Kulda on the play, and a good thing for Val d’Or, because one more at that point and that might have been the game.
As things went, thanks largely to Bibeau, who stopped 47 of the 50 shots he faced in the game, Val d’Or hung in and hung in until the bounces started to go there way.
On Val d’Or’s first goal, by Shawn Ouellette-St-Amant, it was Oil Kings defenceman Cody Corbett who chose the wrong route out of his zone and turned the puck over.
On the second one, the Oil Kings were on a power play, a pass to Sautner at the point hit a broken stick on the ice, and bounced loose, sending Phil Pietroniro on a breakaway on Jarry at 9:38 of the second period.
Samuelsson gave the Oil Kings the lead again at 5:46 of the third period. A nifty pass from Brett Pollock sent him in alone on Bibeau and Samuelsson deked the Val d’Or goalie to the ice before tucking a forehand in behind him.
That held up until 15:49 of the third period, when the icing non-call led to a turnover, that led to the tying goal by Val d’Or captain Samuel Henley.
“They (referees) thought that we could have got to the puck,” Reinhart said. “A lot of guys kind of pretend to skate back hard.
“It is what it is, but unfortunately, it wasn’t icing and they got a goal off of it.”
Reinhart emphatically did not blame the loss on a missed call by the referee. Rather, he chalked it up to bad luck, self-induced turnovers and the opportunistic Foreurs taking advantages of the breaks that came their way.
“Hockey has bounces all the time that work for you sometimes, and sometimes they don’t,” Reinhart said. “It was unlucky (Sautner), it hit his stick and they go down on a breakaway and score.
“The last play, Samuelsson makes a pretty good pass to me, it’s flat, bounces at the last second, they get another breakaway and end up winning the game off that.”
Val d’Or, which played the game without injured (bruised knee) puck-moving defenceman Guillaume Gelinas, won on the back of Bibeau, their workhorse goalie, whose 51-save performance in the Foreurs’ tournament opening 1-0 win over London established his bona fides as a clutch netminder in this tournament. His play hasn’t cooled off any, obviously.
Edmonton will have to face Bibeau again in the semifinal if they want to advance to the Sunday’s final (2 p.m. MDT), a challenge that is strangely familiar to the Oil Kings. After all, they blew 3-0 and 5-2 leads in Game 6 of the WHL final series against Portland before losing in overtime.
They rebounded to win Game 7 in Portland to clinch their second Memorial Cup berth in three seasons.
“It’s not good to say, but we’re almost comfortable in this position,” Reinhart said. “You never want to be here, but I think we’ve made the best of it, so far.
“We always respond well and whether London wins and we have to play a tiebreaker, or Guelph wins and we don’t have to, we’re going to come out strong from here on out.
“Every game is a Game 7 now.”
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