Oil Kings blank Thunderbirds 2-0 in game six to win WHL Championship; Guhle named Playoffs MVP

The Edmonton Oil Kings take their team picture with the Ed Chynoweth Cup after beating the Seattle Thunderbirds in six games in the WHL Final. --Twitter/WHL

The Edmonton Oil Kings closed out the WHL Final with a 2-0 shutout win over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Monday night in Edmonton, becoming the first winners of the Ed Chynoweth Cup since the 2019 Prince Albert Raiders. The Oil Kings took the series in six games, with goaltender Sebastian Cossa picking up shutouts in two of the four Edmonton wins.

In game six on Monday night at Rogers Place, Edmonton centre and Vegas Golden Knights fourth round pick Jacob Demek broke a scoreless tie 7:15 into the first period. His fifth goal of the playoffs gave Edmonton an important early lead. In the 2022 playoffs, the Oil Kings only lost one game after scoring the opening goal.

The Oil Kings continued to pour on pressure in the first period, but couldn’t bury any more pucks past Thunderbirds stopper Thomas Milic. Outshooting Seattle 21-4 after 20 minutes, Edmonton took a 1-0 lead into the second.

It took just 3:44 into the second period for Edmonton to double their lead, as former Prince Albert Raider defenceman Kaiden Guhle struck with his eighth goal of the postseason. A blind pass from Oil Kings captain Jake Neighbours found Guhle’s stick in the high slot, and the defenceman ripped a seeing eye shot past Milic’s blocker, who was screened on the shot. Guhle picked up his 16th point in 19 games in the 2022 playoffs to put Edmonton in control 2-0.

At the other end of the ice, Cossa was a brick wall between the pipes for Edmonton. After a relatively quiet first period, the Detroit Red Wings first rounder was forced to make a handful of game savers, including a point blank stop on a one timer try from Henrik Rybinski.

Stopping all 27 shots that were thrown at him, Cossa put in his second shutout performance of the WHL final, and his fifth clean slate of the entire postseason, as the Oil Kings closed out game six by a 2-0 final. Edmonton became the third team in a row to close out the league final on home ice, joining the 2019 Raiders, who took down the Vancouver Giants in game seven at the Art Hauser Centre, and the 2018 Swift Current Broncos, who closed out the Everett Silvertips in six games at the Credit Union i-plex.

The win gave Edmonton their third championship in modern franchise history, and their first since 2014.

Guhle wins second straight WHL title and takes home MVP honours

When Kaiden Guhle was dealt by the Raiders to the Oil Kings on a December 1st blockbuster deal, it became clear that Edmonton was in a “win now” mode. Edmonton not only gained another NHL first round pick, they also gained a defenceman who had WHL Finals experience. In 2019 when the Raiders won their first WHL championship since 1985, Guhle was a rookie blueliner. Now three years later and joining a very experienced Oil Kings roster, it became clear that the 20-year-old was the piece that Edmonton needed to go all the way to the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Scoring eight goals and adding another eight assists in the 2022 postseason, Guhle took home WHL Playoffs MVP in what will likely be his final season in the Western Hockey League, as the Montreal Canadiens will likely be looking to add the two time WHL champ to their lineup next season.

Not only did Guhle win his second WHL championship, he joined some rare company, as he became just the second player since 2008 (Tyler Glass) to win the championship with two different clubs. Glass won back to back titles with the Medicine Hat Tigers in 2007 and with the Spokane Chiefs a year later.