LONDON, Ont. — The Oil Kings clinched a berth in the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament semifinal on Wednesday night and they did it the old-fashioned way — through the back door.
Friday’s semifinal will be a rematch between the Oil Kings and the Val d’Or Foreurs, who beat Edmonton 4-3 in double overtime in round robin play on Tuesday night.
The host London Knights, who lost 7-2 Wednesday night to the OHL champion Guelph Storm, fell to 0-3 in round robin play and were eliminated.
Guelph, which ran its round robin record to a perfect 3-0 with the win, had already clinched a berth in Sunday’s tournament final, but got to eliminate their regional rival as a bonus. Guelph also ousted the Knights from the OHL playoffs, beating them in five games in the second round.
So the 2-1 Foreurs and the 1-2 Oil Kings will play Friday night (5 p.m. MDT) to decide who plays the Storm, the tournament favourite from the outset. Sunday’s final starts at 2 p.m. MDT.
“I thought we deserved a better fate,” Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal had said after that tough 4-3 loss to Val d’Or in double overtime on Tuesday night.
To which the hockey gods, echoing Will Munny in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, might well have sneered: “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”
Or maybe it did, after all, since the Oil Kings lost to Guelph 5-2 in their tournament opener owing in part to an own goal, after a Mads Eller clearing attempt ricocheted off Kerby Rychel and into their own net, erasing a 2-1 Edmonton lead at the time.
And maybe the hockey gods were in a giving mood after a festival of quirky bounces against Val d’Or sabotaged a game in which the Oil Kings led 2-0 at the nine-minute mark of the first period and clung to a 3-2 lead late in the third.
Whatever it was, the Oil Kings will gladly take it. In 2012 in Shawinigan, Edmonton lost the tie breaker and were the first team eliminated.
This time around, they still have a chance to play for a Canadian championship.
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