Hockey

Edmonton Oil Kings win WHL Championship

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Edmonton Oil Kings win the Ed Chynoweth Cup after a 2-0 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds. After failing to close it out in Game 5, Game 6 is where the Thunderbirds’ journey ends this season in a WHL match-up game that the Oil Kings dominated for most of the time.

The Oil Kings had a strong season in the WHL, being the second-best team only behind the Winnipeg ICE. In the playoffs, they swept the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round and swept the Red Deer Rebels in the second round. In the WHL East finals, they were against the ICE. However, a much-anticipated matchup between the two best teams in the regular season ended quickly after a 4-1 series win for the Oil Kings.

The series against the Thunderbirds would prove to be the biggest challenge in their playoff run as they took Game 1 from the Oil Kings. However, the Oil Kings responded by winning the next three to be one win away from winning the championship. However, the Thunderbirds took Game 5 away with a 3-2 win to keep their dreams alive and have the Oil Kings wait another few days.

In Game 6, it all came to an end with the Oil Kings dominating offensively and defensively. It only took seven minutes for Vegas Golden Knights draft-pick Jakub Demek to open the score for his fifth in the playoffs. Montreal Canadiens 2020 first-round draft-pick Kaiden Guhle doubled the lead early in the second period. Detroit Red Wings prospect Sebastian Cossa earned a shutout in the final game as the Thunderbirds were unable to get past him.

The series was physical, as is expected from the WHL, with a lot of time would be spent playing four-on-fours or one team with just three on the ice. A penalty was called 47 times during the six-game series with only three being called in the first game.

It is also the first time an openly gay man won a major junior championship in the WHL, and in Canada as a whole. Oil Kings’ defenceman and Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop came out last year and became the first openly gay man to be signed to an NHL team. Prokop proved to be extremely valuable to the Oil Kings’ during their playoff run, as he would have the highest +/- rating and was tied with Kaiden Guhle for most points from a defenseman.

This is the third WHL championship for the Oil Kings with them winning in 2012 and 2014. The Oil Kings went on to win the Memorial Cup that year against the OHL’s Guelph Storm in London, ON.

This year they will be going to New Brunswick where they will face the host, Saint John Sea Dogs and the QMJHL champion, Shawinigan Cataractes. They will also be joined by the OHL champion who will be known after Game 7 of the Hamilton Bulldogs vs. Windsor Spitfires series.

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