Memorial Cup three stars: Edmonton wins overtime thriller
The Oil Kings dropped their tournament opener against the Shawinigan Cataractes despite being the favorites to win it all. They needed to enter the win column against the hosts Saint John Sea Dogs and they managed to accomplish that despite a crazy first period that saw them go 3-2 in the first 10 minutes of the game.
A happy delay of the game call which saw Saint John head into the penalty box on a puck that could have gone out the glass on the way out of play gave the Oil Kings a chance with the man advantage . Edmonton made no mistakes, capitalizing with just seconds left on the power play.
The score remained tied at three during the third period, which necessitated the new 3 on 3 overtime of the Memorial Cup. With the new format in play, a hero was born when Jaxsen Wiebe scored on the run to end the game on his hat-trick goal. Edmonton came away victorious and earned their first well-deserved victory, even if the overtime win isn’t worth as much in the standings.
First Star: RW Jaxsen Wiebe, Edmonton Oil Kings
The most unlikely of heroes, Jaxsen Wiebe scored 12 goals in 64 WHL games when you combine his regular season and playoffs, but it was a hat trick that night that propelled the Oil Kings towards victory. Scoring a trio of varied goals, Wiebe was rewarded for consistently playing hard and playing the right way throughout this game.
The 20-year-old forward put Edmonton on the board by smashing the net and hitting a loose puck on his backhand as mayhem ensued. His second goal came in the second period to tie the game at three. After Carter Souch made a wonderful run for a chance at goal, the puck came off the post and leapt into the air with Wiebe right there to catch it, put it on his stick and drive it home a few feet away. . .
It was his game-winning goal in overtime, however, that was the best of the three. Wiebe increased his speed in the neutral zone thanks to the extra space provided by the three-on-three overtime. Entering the offensive zone, he is left outside and bounces the puck a little. Quickly remembering the puck, Wiebe just fired the puck off the half wall and beat the Saint John goaltender on a surprise shot from an odd angle. Wiebe quite possibly played the best game of his junior hockey career in one of the most pivotal games of his career.
Second Star: LW Carter Souch, Edmonton Oil Kings
Souch was a man on a mission at times in this game. His ability to flash speed and skill were on full display and he wasn’t afraid to mix things up whenever things got a little dodgy after the whistle. Souch has an innate ability to space in the offensive zone and his ability to finish from high danger or make a quick assist in high danger areas of the ice is what makes him a player. offense so deadly for the WHL champions. .
Souch finished the game with one goal and two assists, counting all of the Oil Kings regulation goals. Scoring on a two-on-one, Souch got away from the defender and launched himself into the middle of the ice, opening up for a nice pass from Josh Williams. Souch was not mistaken, burying the puck on a nice shot from ten feet. His speed and restlessness on the play gave him that opportunity, just minutes after scoring the game’s first goal.
The shining moment for Souch may have been his second assist of the night. Weaving through traffic and attacking the slot in the offensive zone on the power play, Souch suspended three defensemen and although he lost the puck for half a second, he jumped behind the Sea Dogs defenseman to recover it and ring the post shot. Wiebe caught the puck that was sent flying off the post and buried it to tie the game. None of that happens except for Souch’s restlessness and determination, which was on full display in the Oil Kings’ overtime win.
Third Star: C Josh Lawrence, Saint John Sea Dogs
Lawrence was active all night, entering the offensive zone and creating chances all night. He was an absolute stallion in the face-off point, going 20-for-26 while collecting a goal and an assist in the game to help Saint John take the lead after dropping two goals to start the game. Saint John’s did a great job dictating the game all night and Lawrence did more than his fair share of the job. The only player of the game who finished the game with more shots (six) than shots on goal was Will Dufour, junior hockey’s leading scorer this year, who added a goal afterwards. Lawrence was all over the ice tonight, leading the way with a goal and an assist.
Lawrence was involved in Saint John’s first two goals to help tie the game in the opening seven minutes. His assist was a thing of beauty as he cut towards the net and redirected a backdoor pass to the front of the net for Raivis Kristians Ansons to exploit. Edmonton goaltender Sebastian Cossa was sliding towards Lawrence and had no chance to stop and make the save the other way.
Scoring the tying goal just minutes later, the 20-year-old center pulled off a great backhand move on a puck that had just been kept in the offensive zone. Switching from backhand to forehand and elevating the shot from close range, the puck just squeaked through Cossa and was hit by a sprawling Oil King defender. Not every goal will be a scorer, but the puck catch was pretty nice from Lawrence.