Williams Scores Twice as Oil Kings Win in OT; Officially Crowned Division Champions
Edmonton, AB - On the night the Edmonton Oil Kings (19-2-0-1) we're officially crowned as the WHL's Central Division Champions for a third straight year, Josh Williams provided the heroics in a 3-2 come from behind overtime win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes (9-12-3-0).
"I really liked our last 10 minutes of the second and the third period," said Oil Kings Head Coach Brad Lauer. "We got our legs underneath us and started playing the type of game we're capable of. We were a little slow out of the gates, that happens sometimes but I thought the last half of the game we played well, and when we play that way, we give ourselves a chance to win every night."
Williams' two goals moved him into sole possession of the team lead in goals, and second overall in the league with 17.
"It's a shot mentality and I think that's the biggest thing for him," added Lauer on Williams. "When he has that, he's very effective five-on-five, on the power-play or all situations for us. He's done well for us, he's been a really consistent player for us this year. He's had a really good year, just a complete game, reliable in the d-zone, he's done a lot of good work for us."
A fast paced first period saw the Oil Kings and Hurricanes divvy up a pair of goals. First, Williams collected his 16th goal of the season to stake Edmonton to the lead just past the midway point of the first period. The Hurricanes turned the puck over at the Oil Kings blueline off a faceoff win to the right of Sebastian Cossa, Williams pushed the puck to himself at center-ice, sped into the right-wing circle and launched a heavy wrist shot over the right pad of Carl Tetachuk making it 1-0 Edmonton on an unassisted goal 10:12 into the opening frame. The Hurricanes answered back just 4:59 later as Chase Wheatcroft was the beneficiary of a sweet cross-seam setup by rookie Lethbridge defenceman Logan McCutcheon who steered a puck over the stick of Jayden Henderson and between two defenders in the slot to an open Wheatcroft to re-direct in the tying goal.
The second period was tight-checking for the opening 15 minutes with both teams combining for just seven shots on goal. With just over five minutes to play in the period, Ty Nash helped open things up as he tipped in a point shot by Dino Kambeitz to give the visitors their first lead of the game at the 14:52 mark. The lead was short-lived thanks to Jalen Luypen matching Williams' 16th goal of the season to get the Oil Kings back on even terms. Carson Latimer stripped a Hurricane of the puck just inside their blueline, found Matthew Robertson in the right-wing circle who outwaited a Lethbridge defender and hooked the puck to a wide-open Luypen at the backdoor to pound home the equalizer, sending the teams to another intermission tied.
In the third period, the Oil Kings threw everything at the Lethbridge net looking to win the game in regulation, but Tetachuk made several dazzling saves to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, the Hurricanes gained possession of the puck off the opening faceoff but a turnover in the Edmonton zone sent Williams streaking down the right side of the ice again and once again he would blister a shot past Tetachuk from the right-wing circle to give the Oil Kings the 3-2 overtime win.
The Oil Kings went 0-for-2 on the power-play while the Hurricanes were 0-for-3. Cossa made 27 saves for his 16th win of the year as Edmonton outshot Lethbridge 39-29 in the game.
Following the game, the team was presented their Central Division Championship trophy after securing a third straight division crown just over a week ago.
"It was great, for what they've gone through this year," said Lauer. "It gave them a sense of accomplishment, it's exciting to see as a coach to see that excitement together as a group that has been together for a few years, it's pretty special for them to enjoy that."
"It was a great feeling," said Oil Kings Captain Scott Atkinson on hoisting the trophy following the game. "I think just to be able to celebrate what we went through this year and everything we did together as a group, it was a really special group, it's always nice to have something to hang your hat on at the end of the year."
The Oil Kings conclude their season on Thursday night when they travel to Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers at 7 PM.
Jalen Luypen extended his point streak to four games with a goal (4G, 3A).
The Oil Kings have not lost back-to-back games since November 22/23, 2019 (61 games).
With his assist, Matthew Robertson moved into a tie for third most career points (126) by an Oil Kings defenceman with Aaron Irving trailing only Cody Corbett (129) and Dysin Mayo (135).
Josh Williams overtime goal was the second overtime winner of his career, the first came on February 22, 2020 in Regina against the Pats.
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