|Portland celebrates the game winner|
that has forced a game 7
Monday in Portland
Twice the Edmonton Oil Kings had the Portland Winterhawks down by 3 goals in what could have been a WHL Championship clinching game. But twice the ‘Hawks battled back. Once to within a goal and once to tie it completely, then win it on a sharp angled shot from Keegan Iverson 7:23 into overtime.
A stunned and loud and nearly full Rexall Place was in disbelief, much like the Oil Kings themselves that they squandered such opportunities. Portland meanwhile celebrated as they should. A pardon. A stay of execution. A do over after twice being left for dead in game 6....more thoughts after the jump.
Almost 12,000 hearty hockey fans cheered on the Kings as they built up a 3-0 lead in a very convincing opening period. It appeared that Oilers prospect Mitch Moroz and Henrik Samuelsson were about to hoist the team on their shoulders on route to hoisting the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Samuelsson sniped the first 2 goals set up by Moroz while linemate Eddie Kulda notched the 3rd goal of the period. Edmonton even chased Portland starter Corbin Boes from the crease as Brendan Burke came out to start the second period.
With a 3-0 edge after just 20 minutes it was natural for most in the building to start thinking about London and the Memorial Cup. That likely included a few young players on the Oil Kings bench. Let’s face it, we’re talking about 16-20 year old kids and they’re minds tend to wander….remember that age if you can!!! So as teams tend to do when they build early leads, the Oil Kings fell asleep and were woken up by a pair of Portland goals from defenceman.
Derrick Pouliot teed one up for Matthew Dumba and with a nod to P.K. Subban he rifled it under the bar past Tristan Jarry. That jaw dropper was followed up by Anton Cederholm’s second of the post season cutting the Oil Kings lead to just one. That seemed to jolt the home squad awake as Curtis Lazar put away a Reid Petryk feed and Kulda was sent in by Dyson Mayo to roof his 2nd of the game restoring the Oil Kings 3 goal lead.
Falling asleep with one 3 goal lead is acceptable in a clinching game. Doing it twice isn’t, but that’s what happened as the Kings again sat back and let the Hawks dictate the play. Portland’s strategy in the second period was get within one. They went with the same method period 3 as well and bettered it. Dumba netted his 2nd of the game, followed by Keoni Texeira equaling his season total for goals with his 2nd of the post season and Derrick Pouliot who likely played 40 minutes tonight, tying the contest midway through the first. 5 Portland goals, all from the blueline erasing a pair of 3 goal leads and forcing overtime. Talk about momentum.
O.T. provided chances for both teams, but it was a sharp angle shot/deflection from Iverson that eluded Jarry and silenced Rexall Place. The ‘Hawks including head coach Mike Johnstone piled into the corner to live another day. The Oil Kings meanwhile gathered at centre ice to salute the fans, with this being their last home game of the season. About an hour earlier they had visions of a different kind of salute, but that will have to come in Portland for game 7, a mere 25 hours after game 6 ended. Can’t wait? Me either. Catch it on TSN 1260 with Corey Graham and Guy Flaming. On Shaw TV on online with WHL Live.