Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Edmonton Oil Kings Bring Their 'Defence First' Game to Memorial Cup: Oil Kings Bring 'Defence First' Game to Cup

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Edmonton Oil Kings Bring Their 'Defence First' Game to Memorial Cup: Oil Kings Bring 'Defence First' Game to Cup

Article excerpt

For Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk, the trip to the Memorial Cup this year has an extra cachet.

The 20-year-old Buffalo Sabres draft pick expects his junior career is pretty much done.

"Chances are it will be the last year," he said as the team prepared to head to Shawinigan, Que., for the four-team tournament.

"I'll probably end up in the American Hockey League next year, so to finish off with the WHL championship and maybe a Memorial Cup coming up, that's definitely pretty special."

He says it's also pretty special to be part of a Western Hockey League franchise that has come so far so fast.

The Oil Kings name is an old one in Edmonton but this edition dates back only to 2007 and Pysyk has been there for all but that first year.

"We're very proud of the kids," said coach Derek Laxdal.

"To bring back the Oil Kings name from the '60s and '70s and start it all up again and to be going to the Memorial Cup and having the league championship is outstanding."

Taking it to the top is the challenge now and getting past the experienced and talent-laden Saint John Sea Dogs is a big hurdle, for Edmonton as well as the London Knights and Shawinigan Cataractes.

"The Sea Dogs are obviously the favourite going in because they won it last year and they have a lot of returning players," agrees Laxdal.

"If you look at Edmonton and London, they're like the Sea Dogs last year, they're going in with a young team a year ahead of where they're supposed to be."

And while Shawinigan was knocked out in the playoffs and is there as host team, he knows they will be trying to use that home-ice advantage.

Unlike the league playoffs won by London, Edmonton and Saint John, this format doesn't allow much time to adjust to the opposition.

"We've never played against any of these teams," said Pysyk.

"It's a little bit like a bunch of game sevens. …

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