Kristians Pelss has played his last game as an Oil King, but will end his junior career as a WHL champion. Photo by Lisa McRitchie all rights reserved.
The Edmonton Oil Kings had to take the early flight back to Edmonton from Shawinigan Quebec on Friday morning, and of course without the Memorial Cup. After the long and hard fought trip to the WHL championships, the shorter but harder battle to the Memorial Cup was just a little bit more than the Oil Kings could muster up and battle through.
With an unfamiliar 3 game losing streak, and their worst loss of the entire season (6-1) the Oil Kings said goodbye to Quebec and loaded up their plane for their respective flights home. At first glance it appears as though 20 of the 25 Oil Kings will return next season, with captain Mark Pysyk and Kristians Pelss beginning their professional careers with their NHL teams, the Buffalo Sabres and the Edmonton Oilers and Tyler Maxwell, Jordan Peddle and Rhett Rachinski all looking to make a splash on the free agent market as 21 year olds.
Although the Oil Kings' season now ends on a losing note, the city of Edmonton and the Oil Kings themselves won't be quick to forget the WHL victory the team did achieve. While there are no guarantees that the Oil Kings will make it to the Memorial Cup next year, the outlook for next season looks good.
Things didn't much improve for Oilers fans Friday night when the Oklahoma City Barons were eliminated from the AHL western conference finals following their third consecutive loss to the Toronto Marlies, this one by a score of 3-1. And so the number three seems to be against the Oilers' extended family with both the Oil Kings and the Barons losing three games in a row to find themselves out of contention for their respective championships.
Still, for only their second season of existence a trip to the AHL western conference finals should be considered a success.
For the Oilers at the 2012 IIHF World Championships, it was an earlier than desired exit as well. Only winger Ales Hemsky would walk away with any hardware, but it was the bronze and not the gold. Still Hemsky earned his bronze with two assists in the Czechs' 3-2 victory of the Finns and so Hemsky has at least some bragging rights over his Oiler teammates come training camp this fall.
While no Oiler teams remain in any playoffs, there are always ex-Oilers in the playoffs. If you are a Dustin Penner fan, this playoff season is certainly for you.