Monday, May 14, 2012

5/13 Recap: Pysyk captains Oil Kings to WHL title

Mark Pysyk was a stalwart in big minutes Sunday, posting a healthy +3 rating as the Edmonton Oil Kings captured the Ed Chynoweth Trophy with a 4-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks in Game Seven of the WHL Championship. Over 12,500 fans in Rexall Place cheered loudly as Pysyk, a native Edmontonian, hoisted the franchise's first trophy since re-joining the WHL in 2007-08.

The valuable leader elevated his game at both ends of the rink in the final round. Along with managing the pace of play and scoring perhaps the biggest goal in franchise history with his Game Five winner, Pysyk leveraged his smarts and continued emergence of his physical game to neutralize the Hawks' top line of Sven Bartschi (CAL), Ty Rattie (STL), and Marcel Noebels (PHI) in the deciding game. He didn't get to win gold with Team Canada, but the big game experience kicked in when his team needed it.

For Pysyk, the championship completes a junior hockey voyage that began with him being the club's first-ever draft pick in 2007 and end as two-year captain. The face of the modern day Oil Kings since day one, Pysyk joins Tyler Myers (2009), Matt MacKenzie (2010), and Brayden McNabb (2011) to give the Sabres a WHL champion blueliner for the fourth straight year. He finishes the playoffs with three goals, including one shorthanded and a game winner, and 11 points.

Pysyk will add one more chapter to his junior resume by leading the Oil Kings into the 2012 Mastercard Memorial Cup. They'll open the tournament Friday (5/18) with a date against host Shawinigan, who haven't played since April 17th. Edmonton will then battle the defending champion Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday (5/21) before closing the round-robin against the OHL's London Knights on Tuesday (5/22).