The Edmonton Oil Kings dramatically advanced to the championship game of the 2014 Memorial Cup and then upset the Guelph Storm to win junior hockey's biggest prize.
The Oil Kings had to beat Val d'Or in a marathon overtime - the longest game in Memorial Cup history - during the tourney, then downed Guelph 6-3 in the final game. Henrik Samuelsson, the son of former NHL star Ulf Samuelsson scored 2 goals and assisted on three others to lead the way on Sunday.
Samuelsson and the rest of his Oil Kings teammates had a fallen teammate on their mind the entire tourney. The team fondly carried the jersey and memories of former Oil Kings' player Kristian Pelss. Two years ago Pelss was a member of the Edmonton team that won a Western Hockey League championship and lost their Memorial Cup tiebreaker in Shawinigan, Que. Last year the 20-year-old Latvian died when his car drove off a bridge in Riga.
The loss of Pelss hit the team hard, particularly the 8 remaining players who had previously played with Pelss. They dedicated this season to him.
“Everyone knows about the passing of Kristian Pelss,” Henrik Samuelsson said. “He was a good buddy of mine. I know he was watching over us today and he definitely had a part of it.”
This is the first Memorial Cup championship for this incarnation of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
For the city of Edmonton this is the first Memorial Cup championship to celebrate since 1963 and 1966. The original Oil Kings was a real powerhouse back then. In addition to the two championships they finished as runner up in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964 and 1965. Notable alumni include Glen Sather, Pat Quinn, Doug Messier (father of Mark Messier), Al Hamilton, Ross Lonsberry, Garnet "Ace" Bailey and manager Wild Bill Hunter (one of the founders of the WHA). Their stick boy was Swede Knox, soon to be a long time NHL linesman.
The 1966 Memorial Cup champion Edmonton Oil Kings are pictured below: