Three left-wingers from hockey families scored for the Guelph Storm in their 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings at the Memorial Cup on Saturday.
Kerby Rychel and Tyler Bertuzzi each contributed a pair of goals and Brock McGinn added another for the Ontario Hockey League champions.
Kerby is the son of Warren Rychel, a former NHL winger. Bertuzzi is the nephew of Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi and McGinn is the brother of Colorado Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn.
“Early on in their lives they get the hockey sense quicker because they’re watching it so much and watching their relatives play and they’re around it,” said Storm head coach Scott Walker, himself a former NHL defenceman.
“They watch the training, the little things it takes to win games, chipping pucks in, chipping pucks out, blocking shots. Sometimes you don’t have to spend as much time on that, but those three players are just good, solid, hockey players that coaches want on your team. They’ll block shots, they’ll hit guys, but they also have skill to put the puck in the net.
“They’re fun to have, all a bit different to have. Brock is very quiet and Bert, we all know him. He’s fun-loving, loves to be out there and banging and being in everybody’s face and Rychesy is just a very intense person.”
Storm defenceman Nick Ebert assisted on two goals and goalie Justin Nichols stopped 37 shots in the victory.
Henrik Samuelsson and Ashton Sautner replied for the Oil Kings, who won this year’s Western Hockey League title. Goalie Tristan Jarry stopped 27 shots in the loss.
The Oil Kings play their second game in as many days when they face the host London Knights on Sunday. Both teams are still looking for their first win of the tournament as the Knights opened with a 1-0 loss to the Val-d’Or Foreurs Friday. The Storm face Val-d’Or on Monday.
Guelph was the highest-scoring major junior team in Canada this year with 340 goals.
The Storm boast multiple weapons. Rychel, McGinn, right-wingers Zach Mitchell and Scott Kosmachuk and centre Robbi Fabbri all had over 80 points in the regular-season. McGinn is a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick and like his uncle Todd, Tyler is a Red Wings prospect.
But it was a fluke goal in the second period that swung momentum to Guelph. The Storm fell behind 2-1 when Edmonton scored twice in a 27-second span starting at 1:19.
A routine clear by Oil Kings winger Mads Eller deflected off Rychel and into Edmonton’s net to tie the game 2-2 at 7:40. McGinn provided the go-ahead goal at 14:52 and Bertuzzi padded the lead with a pair of third-period goals.
Rychel scored twice in the final 30 seconds of Game 5 in their OHL championship series against North Bay to clinch the series.
The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect also scored the first two of the Memorial Cup for his team, although he took some ribbing from teammates about the second.
“I just tried to get in front of it and try and knock it down and it just went in,” Rychel said. “Obviously it was a really lucky goal, but I’ll take it for sure.”
It was a rough day for the Eller brothers. Although Lars Eller scored for the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference final, the Habs were drubbed 7-2 by the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre.
Jarry teed the puck up behind the net for Mads Eller, who didn’t see Rychel when he attempted to dump it down the ice.
“I went to get it and clear it out of the zone and just an unlucky bounce,” Mads said. “It hit their guy right in the stomach and it went in the net. I didn’t see him. I was looking at the puck. It was bouncing a bit. I was trying to get a good shot and clear it and unfortunately it just hit him.”
Rychel converted two of Guelph’s three power-play chances into goals. Edmonton was held scoreless on four opportunities a man up.
“We felt if we did a better job on our special teams tonight . . . we gave up two power-play goals and we didn’t score on our power play, so special teams really let us down,” Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal said.
“We have to figure that out pretty quick here and we have to regroup. I wouldn’t say we played our ‘A’ game tonight. Maybe a B-plus, so we can get a lot better in certain areas.”
The Memorial Cup has been handed out to Canadian junior hockey champions since 1919 and awarded in memory of those who died in the First World War.
The tournament includes the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior league champion as well as a host team.
The club with the best record after the preliminary round earns a bye to the final May 25. The second- and third-place teams meet in the semifinal May 23. A tiebreaker game will be played in the event two teams tie for third.
Guelph is making its fifth appearance at the Memorial Cup in its 23-year history and looking for its first title.
The Oil Kings are at the Cup for a second time in three years. Edmonton lost in a tiebreaker to the host and eventual champion Shawinigan Cataractes in 2012.