After a long and arduous road, only the Guelph Storm and Edmonton Oil Kings remained standing heading into the 2014 Memorial Cup championship game.
Both teams feature plenty of firepower, and the promise of a thrilling final loomed large.
They didn't disappoint.
In a fantastic back-and-forth spectacle, the Oil Kings edged the Storm by a score of 6-3 to hoist the coveted Memorial Cup.
Before the game, Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart spoke to Aaron Bell of MastercardMemorialCup.ca about his team's difficult test against Guelph.
Said Reinhart, "They're obviously a really good team—they finished 3-0 in this tournament so far for a reason. They have a lot of skill up front. We have to eliminate turnovers and just try to get traffic on the net."
Well, it didn't start swimmingly for Edmonton.
Excitement began quickly on Sunday, as just one minute into the game, Robby Fabbri scored quickly after receiving a brilliant pass from Kerby Rychel to put the Storm up 1-0.
Fabbri is draft eligible this year, and his stock may be soaring after his recent play. AJ Jakubec of TSN1200 Radio tweeted his thoughts on the young player:
Terrible turnover to start the game. Robby Fabbri converts the 3 way passing play to give Guelph the lead. Fabbri should be a Top 20 pick.— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) May 25, 2014
After a couple of penalties from the Storm, Edmonton was awarded with a five-on-three power play. Cody Corbett made them pay, launching a beautiful slap shot past goaltender Justin Nichols.
Take a look at his strike, via a tweet from the Canadian Hockey League:
In the waning minutes of the first period, Guelph struck again.
This time it was Stephen Pierog who scored, using a great backhander on a rebound after a nice save from Edmonton goaltender Tristan Jarry.
At the end of the first period, the Storm led 2-1.
It was all Edmonton in the second period.
Tyler Robertson quickly tied the game after a quick steal and a wrister following a faceoff on Guelph's side of the ice. Here's a look at the brilliant play, courtesy of a tweet from the Edmonton Oil Kings:
Just four minutes later, Edgars Kulda delivered on a power play to give Edmonton its first lead of the day. The goal marked his fourth of the tournament, as he continues to play at a very high level.
Here's a look at the score, via Edmonton's Twitter account:
Mitchell Moroz continued the onslaught with a beautiful snipe past the glove of Nichols. His goal gave Edmonton a 4-2 lead, and the game appeared to be quickly getting out of hand heading into the third period.
At the start of the final period, the Storm came out firing, as the team looked to get past the defenses of Jarry once more. Zack Mitchell finally made it happen, burying the feed from Rychel and bringing Guelph within one goal of Edmonton.
The Oil Kings didn't waste any time regaining their two-goal lead, as just under two minutes later, Henrik Samuelsson found the back of the net.
Shortly after, the Storm were forced to pull their goaltender and bring another attacker on the ice.
The attempt didn't work, as Samuelsson put in the empty-netter for Edmonton. The goal gave him five points for the game—or a lot, according to a comical tweet from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:
Phoenix pick Henrik Samuelsson with the empty-netter for Edmonton. He has a jillion points today.— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) May 25, 2014
The 6-3 finish doesn't exactly reflect how close this game remained throughout the duration. Both of these teams came out firing on all cylinders and put on a memorable contest.
The Edmonton Oilers tweeted an enthusiastic response to Sunday's result:
Kulda came away with the tournament's MVP honors. He capped off a fantastic run in the Memorial Cup with a one-goal, two-assist performance in the final. The Memorial Cup's Twitter account congratulated the left wing:
Trophy presentation for this year's #MCMemorialCup underway! Congratulations Edgars Kulda - tournament MVP!— 2014 MC Memorial Cup (@MCMemorialCup) May 25, 2014
Many of these young players will received plenty of attention during the 2014 NHL draft June 27-28 and provide the same amount of fireworks on the professional level.
Based on what we saw on Sunday, these athletes have very bright futures ahead.