Curtis Lazar capped off a stellar performance Friday night by tipping in a Cody Corbett point shot to notch the 4-3 game winner at the 2:42 of the third overtime period and move the Edmonton Oil Kings into the Memorial Cup final on Sunday.
Lazar (#27) was a force all night long, both offensively and defensively; generating numerous scoring chances, while shutting down Quebec league champion Val d’Or’s top guns with relentless checking in all zones.
The Vernon product was named first star in a game which set a record as the longest Memorial Cup game ever, and will be remembered as one of the epic battles in major junior hockey for many years to come.
While Lazar lead the story board, he was by no means the only Oil King that played a stand out game. This team has tremendous depth.
Defensively, three other BC products played exceptional games. North Delta’s Tristan Jarry (#30) faced 49 shots and was outstanding on numerous occasions, particularly during a furious goal mouth scramble in the second OT.
Team captain Griffin Reinhart (#8) of West Vancouver, played an extremely intelligent, disciplined game, while also taking advantage of offensive openings to create dangerous scoring opportunities.
Dysin Mayo (#37), of Victoria dished out some punishing hip checks while also playing a very solid game, finishing +2 for the night.
Right winger Luke Bertolucci (#11), a Kootenay product, along with line mates Riley Kieser at centre and Mads Eiler, also made big contributions defensively and pressed offensively.
The Oil Kings showed tremendous talent, structure and discipline all game, with notable performances from Henrik Samuelson, Reid Petryk, Mads Eiler, Edgars Kulda, Mitch Moroz, and Brett Pollack.
Kudos to head coach Derek Laxdal and assistants Sean Brown and Steve Hamilton for the work they’v e done in fine-tuning this talented group. Puck possession, driven by a combination of patience, quick movement and precise positioning are hallmarks of the team offensively; while blocking lanes, quickly closing gaps and physical compete along the wall create an impressive defensive structure. The team displayed exceptional discipline and cohesion all game long.
On the Val d’Or side, Guillame Gelinas (#5) was a standout defensively, along with Randy Gazzola and goaltender Antoine Bibeau.
Offensively, Phil Pietroniro, Anthony Richard, Nicolas Aubé-Kubel and Anthony Mantha were notable.
The Oil Kings will face OHL champions Guelph Storm in the final, at 1:00 pm PST, Sunday May 25.
Sportsnet will be broadcasting the game.
Foreurs Phil Pietroniro opened the scoring early at 1:49, in the first, with assists by Anthony Beauregard and Randy Gazzola.
Cody Corbett answered for Oil Kings on a power play at 9:00 of the first, with assists from Griffin Reinhart and Edgars Culda.
Shots: Oil Kings 10, Foreurs 12.
The Oil Kings poured it on in the second, controlling most of the play, and opened a 3-1 lead, first on another power-play goal from Mitchell Moroz, assisted by Dysin Mayo and Corbett – Lazar had drawn the penalty; and then on a beautiful goal by Edgars Kulda who made an awesome in-tight move on Bibeau after getting a sweet pass across the slot from Reid Petryk.
However, Quebec closed the gap to 3-2 against the play at 17:32 to give themselves a big lift, on a shot from outside the left circle from D-man Randy Gazzola, that was screened by Oil King defenders and eluded Jarry.
Shots 16-4 Edmonton.
It looked like an Oil King victory as the clock ticked down past the final minute, and the Foreurs pulled Bibeau for the extra man. Jarry froze the puck an play was stopped with 39 seconds to go. Edmonton called a time out to rest the defensive unit before play resumed with face off to Jarry’s left. Quebec won the draw and the puck shot back to Guillaume Gelinas on the right point. He let one go through traffic and incredibly, it found the back of the net, tie game with 36 seconds left.
Shots: 13-8 Val D’Or.
No scoring in the first and second overtime periods, although both teams had great chances and both goalies played standout games as the play slowly lost its precision and fatigue began to show.
Shots first OT: 12-9 Edmonton.
Shots second OT: 11-7 Val d’Or.
Foreurs had a great opportunity to win it in the second OT when Oil Kings Ashton Saunter went to the box on an unfortunate delay of game call, after his clearing shot went over the glass.
Lazar scores on a tip in at 2:42 on a point shot from Cody Corbett. Reid Petryk got the second assist.
Game duration: 4 hours, 12 minutes.