Oil Kings win WHL championship

Montrose’s Luke Bertolucci and the Edmonton Oil Kings captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Monday

Montrose’s Luke Bertolucci and the Edmonton Oil Kings captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup on Monday beating the Portland Winterhawks 4-2 in Game 7 to win the Western Hockey League title at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

For the second time in three years the Oil Kings eliminated the Winterhawks and hoisted the WHL championship Cup. Bertolucci, a former Trail Smoke Eater, had a great playoff scoring six goals and pitching in with three assists, and a stellar plus-8 rating for the Oil Kings that included an assist on the fourth goal in the final match.

Down 2-0 in the series, the Oil Kings rebounded and won three straight to take the lead heading into Game 6.

A huge breakaway goal in Game 3 by Bertolucci, 19, served as an inspirational moment for the team as the diminutive scorer got up after being pushed to the ice by Portland’s Mathew Dumba and buried the breakaway chance.

“They were starting their celebrations when we were down 2-0 and I think that really motivated our group,” Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal said on the Oil Kings website . “We had them back home and being down 2-0 in our building and the guys did a great job and the Luke Bertolucci goal was just inspirational and then we came back.”

Oil Kings forward Mitch Moroz nearly scored from a tough angle but the puck was kept out by goaltender Brendan Burke, who made his first start of the WHL final.

Portland scored on the ensuing rush. Oliver Bjorkstrand’s shot found twine above the blocker of goaltender Tristan Jarry at 4:42 of the opening period.

After killing off a penalty at the start of the second period, the Oil Kings would even things up. Moroz scooped up the puck in the slot and went five-hole on Burke for the equalizer.

The Oil Kings took the lead at 9:02 of the middle frame courtesy of a shorthanded goal by Lazar. Reid Petryk was in the box for roughing when Mads Eller set up Lazar with a drop pass and the Oil King sniped it far side of Burke.

Forty seconds later the Oil Kings would increase their lead to two. Petryk put a great move on Burke from in tight and went forehand-backhand for a pretty goal and the 3-1 lead.

The Oil Kings surged to a three-goal lead at 17:17 of the middle frame. Portland defenceman Mathew Dumba fell to the ice allowing Edmonton to gain the blue line on a 3-on-1 rush. Bertolucci found Eller with a pretty saucer pass over the lunging defenceman’s stick and Eller’s one-timer found the back of the net.

The Winterhawks would close the gap to two with just over three minutes to play in the third period on the power play, but that’s as close as Portland would get, as the Oil Kings would be crowned champions.

In Game 6, the Oil Kings watched two three-goal leads disappear in their 6-5 overtime loss, but were relentless in the third period on Monday night, staying on the attack, and holding the lead despite being outshot 15-6 in the final frame, and 32-29 on the night.

“To win two games in their building says a lot about our hockey club,” added Laxdal. “We earned it. We definitely earned this series and we earned the title.”

Edmonton will now play in the Memorial Cup starting May 16 in London, Ont.