At one time, the Edmonton Oil Kings were among the most recognizable names in Canadian hockey circles.
But when the 2014 Memorial Cup opened in London’s Budweiser Gardens, the Oil Kings hadn’t won a national title since 1966. That ended a run of seven straight appearances in the Memorial Cup final, although the only other time they won was 1963.
But a decade into a new millennium, the Oil Kings, now owned by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and under head coach Derek Laxdal, started making noises again. They won the WHL title in 2012, and played in the Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, losing a tiebreaker to the eventual-champion Cataractes.
Two years later, they were back again, along with Dale Hunter’s host Knights, the Guelph Storm, coached by Scott Walker, and Mario Durocher’s Val-d’Or Foreurs.
The Oil Kings won it all in 2014, too, and they certainly took the long road, going into double overtime in one game and later playing the longest game in Memorial Cup history.
The tournament opened on May 16 with the Foreurs beating the Knights, 1-0, on 52 saves from Antoine Bibeau and Anthony Mantha’s first-period goal.
The next day, the Storm dumped the Oil Kings, 5-2, with Kerby Rychel and Tyler Bertuzzi each scoring twice. Edmonton then got two goals from each of Edgars Kulda and Luke Bertolucci in evening its record with a 5-2 victory over London.
On May 19, Guelph doubled Val-d’Or, 6-3, and the Foreurs then beat Edmonton, 4-3, on Anthony Richard’s goal at 1:15 of double OT.
When Guelph defeated London, 7-2, on May 21, the host team was 0-3 and done, with the Storm, at 3-0, moving into the final.
That left Edmonton and Val-d’Or to play a semifinal that went into the third OT period before Curtis Lazar won it. At 102:42, it was the longest game in Memorial Cup history.
The two OT games meant that Edmonton had played two full games more than the Storm when the two met in the May 25 final. But that didn’t bother Edmonton, which got two goals and three assists from Henrik Samuelsson in a 6-3 victory.
Edmonton’s roster included eight players who had played in 2012, when Latvian forward Kristians Pelss was a popular teammate. Pelss died in a diving accident in his native Latvia in June 2013, but was very much with the Oil Kings in London.
“He was a good buddy of mine,” Samuelsson, son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson, said. “I know he was watching over us today and he definitely had a part of it.”
Kulda, another Latvian, was the tournament MVP, finishing with four goals and three assists, including a goal and two assists in the final.
“We’ve got an unbelievable culture built here,” Edmonton forward Mitch Moroz said. “It doesn’t hurt when you have a guardian angel upstairs as well.”
Interestingly, Guelph’s only loss was in final.
2014 Edmonton Oil Kings:
Lane Bauer, Brandon Baddock, Cole Benson, Luke Bertolucci, Ben Carroll, Cody Corbett, Mads Eller, Aaron Irving, Tristan Jarry, Riley Kieser, Edgars Kulda, Curtis Lazar, Dysin Mayo, Jesse Mills, Mitchell Moroz, Blake Orban, Reid Petryk, Brett Pollock, Brandon Ralph, Griffin Reinhart, Tyler Robertson, Henrik Samuelsson, Tyler Santos, Ashton Sautner, Mitchell Walter, Randy Hansch (Manager), Derek Laxdal (Coach).
NHL: Jarry has two Stanley Cup rings as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While he didn’t dress in the final in either 2016 or 2017 and therefore his name does not appear on the cup, he did dress for two playoff games in 2016 and 11 in 2017.