Edmonton Journal article (Friendship on hold in playoffs)April 9 2012 at 6:57 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Friendship on hold in playoffs
Pysyk-Stone tiff perfect example of why post-season is paramount
By Chris O'Leary, Edmonton Journal'
April 9, 2012
OIL KINGS at WHEAT KINGS
6 p.m., Tuesday
Media: Team 1260 Radio, Shaw Cable (Oil Kings lead best-of-seven WHL series 2-0)
It was near the middle of the second period on Saturday night at Rexall Place when the battle of the Kings started to feel like a genuine series.
Edmonton Oil Kings captain Mark Pysyk and Wheat Kings captain Mark Stone were behind the Brandon net, battling for the puck. The two grew close playing for Team Canada in the world junior hockey championship and their friendship was well publicized.
Pysyk posted a picture of himself and Stone on Twitter during the championship, joking about how the two Marks had combined for seven points. Stone, of course, had supplied the points; Pysyk supplied his first name and a little wit.
The Oil Kings defenceman had his back turned to his friend Saturday when he raised his stick and clipped Stone's face. When Stone took his hand off of his face, he saw Pysyk's No. 3 and pushed hard. The two stayed behind the net and Stone jabbed at Pysyk with his stick, somehow avoiding a spearing call.
As they went up the ice, Stone put his arms around Pysyk and tried to haul him down. There was no call on that play, either, but the point had been hammered home. This is not the time for joking, banter and certainly not friendship.
The only picture either Mark is interested in now is the one that comes during handshakes at the end of the series.
Pysyk and the Oil Kings are halfway there, leading the series 2-0 as it shifts back to Brandon for 6 p.m. games Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I think it was just in the heat of the moment," Pysyk said of the skirmish. "Both him and I are pretty competitive guys and we're going to fight it out.
"We're pretty good pals off of the ice, but I haven't texted him during the series or anything like that. It's all business right now. It was bound to happen."
The emotions should continue to ramp up in Brandon, where the Wheat Kings were 19-12-1-4 at the Keystone Centre this season.
"They're going to come at us hard," Pysyk said. "They came at us hard in our building, so they're going to do the same thing, probably harder back on home ice."
Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal anticipates an intense crowd for Game 3 because it'll be the Wheaties' first game in Brandon during the post-season. They played their home games in the first-round series against the Calgary Hitmen at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg because the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair was booked at the Keystone Centre.
"Their crowd is going to be excited to see them. They're going to be energized off of that. We've got to go in there and play a real solid road game and - just keep it simple.
"(We'll need to) put pucks in deep, get pucks to the net. We don't want to get into a track meet with them. We just want to play a greasy road game."
The Oil Kings came out on top in two tight games to open the series. They held off a third-period rally to win the first game 2-1 on Friday, and kept the Wheat Kings off the scoreboard in the third period on Saturday, winning 4-3.
Pysyk thought that the close wins would only help the Oil Kings going forward.
"I think that's good," he said. "It shows that everybody's buying in in our room and we're willing to get in front of shots during the end of the game to make sure we keep the wins."
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- Leader-Post article (Sizin up the first round) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 9, 7:01 AM