The 2011/12 season was a thrill for local junior hockey fans, as the Edmonton Oil Kings captured its first Western Hockey League (WHL) championship. In the end, the Oil Kings didn’t come out on top, losing to host team Shawinigan in the final quest for the Memorial Cup.
But to the few hundred appreciative fans gathered at City Hall Wednesday to honour the team’s accomplishments, the disappointing end doesn’t negate the historic and winning season that was.
“I’m so proud of them,” said fan Chris Mastervick, 34, a first-time season ticket holder who came to the celebration with friends, all donned in autographed Oil Kings jerseys. “We support this team and will keep cheering them on.”
Andrew Rys, 31, agreed. “I’ve been going all five years so far, and I will again next year. These guys tried really hard,” he said.
Head coach Derek Laxdal said this year has been an incredible journey for the boys—a close-knit family– that will forever be part of the City of Champions. “Our guys deserve a pat on the back,” he said. “Next year we’ll be even hungrier. Our goal is the Memorial Cup.”
Team captain Mark Pysyk said he’s honoured to have been part of the Oil Kings for his entire junior career. “Two years ago we had 16 wins—now we’re WHL champs. It has been an incredible ride,” said Pysyk. “We made our own path up the mountain.”
A near perfect season
- The Oil Kings achieved many firsts this season: first trip to the Memorial Cup in its five-year history; single game attendance record of 16,651; and team with highest playoff attendance at 99,835.
- The team had 67 wins overall this year, including two 11-game winning streaks, and a 22-game streak that led to their WHL championship
- Of the 25-man team, 20 players are returning next season with their eye on the prize—Memorial Cup in Saskatoon in 2013.