Edmonton Journal article (Birthday celebration bonanza)April 12 2012 at 7:19 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Birthday celebration bonanza
Gernat latest Oil King to help team win with big game
By Chris O'Leary, Edmonton Journal
April 12, 2012
Happy birthday, Martin Gernat.
The Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman - also an Edmonton Oilers draft pick - celebrated his 19th birthday Wednesday with his first two goals of the Western Hockey League playoffs in the series clinching 6-0 trouncing of the Brandon Wheat Kings at Westman Place.
With the 4-0 sweep, the Oil Kings advance to the Eastern Conference final against the Moose Jaw Warriors, who also swept the Medicine Hat Tigers with Wednesday's 4-3 victory in overtime.
Gernat, a soft-spoken Slovakian who was taken 122nd overall by the Oilers in the 2011 NHL entry draft, apparently kept his birthday a secret.
"I didn't even know it was Marty's birthday," Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said. "A lot of guys have had great games on their birthdays this year, so hopefully we can continue that process. I'll be looking for that in the next series."
It's not something to bank on, but it has been an interesting trend through the Oil Kings' eight playoff wins. Goaltender Laurence Brossoit had a shutout and an assist on his birthday on March 23; Keegan Lowe had an assist to help wrap up the Kootenay Ice series on March 29; and Michael St. Croix had a pair of assists in Tuesday's game.
Then Gernat broke out of his scoring slump on his special day.
"It was really good, I feel really good to play well," he said. "I don't know if it was my night. I scored some goals, I got opportunities more, but I think the whole team played good."
News of Gernat's birthday was a surprise to Brossoit, as well.
"We all did (well), we all got wins," he said. "You can't ask for much more."
Noting his bias, Brossoit thought he has had the best birthday performance.
"A shutout and an assist, you can't beat that," he said, grinning.
Gernat capped the offensive charge for the Oil Kings in the first period, which saw Edmonton jump out to a 4-0 lead quickly.
Brandon played without its top two scorers - captain Mark Stone (123 regular season points) and Michael Ferland (96 points). Stone sat out the final game of his junior career with whiplash, while Ferland had a broken finger. Both players were hurt in Tuesday's game.
"Neither of (the plays) were penalized," Brandon head coach Cory Clouston said.
The Oil Kings' 4-0 start also chased Wheat Kings goalie Corbin Boes after just 15 shots in the first 14 minutes and 51 seconds. After turning in a stellar three games, Boes took a seat in favour of backup Brandon Anderson, who allowed two goals on 31 shots.
Henrik Samuelsson gave the Oil Kings exactly what they were looking for when he beat Boes after only 170 seconds to open the scoring.
Edmonton captain Mark Pysyk followed suit with a short-handed goal at 9: 00, deking Boes and backhanding the puck into the top of the net. Travis Ewanyk struck next at 11: 48 and Gernat scored his first goal three minutes later.
The first period left the Wheat Kings demoralized and their 3,226 fans.
Gernat struck again at 3: 19 of the second period, pounding a low point-shot past Anderson. Before St. Croix scored on a rebound at 17: 13 of the third period, Gernat had a few cracks at the natural hat trick.
"I was thinking a little about it," the six-foot-five, 191-pounder admitted. "But I don't try the whole time. I was just shooting on net. I play for the team, always."
Ewanyk said that it was important not to let the lopsided game devolve into just trying to get Gernat his third goal.
"You don't want to develop bad habits," he said. "Whoever we have next, whether it's Moose Jaw or Med Hat, they're going to be a hard team and every round gets tougher.
"You don't want to get caught cheating for goals and stuff like that, but you do take an extra peak if (Gernat) is on the ice. You try to get him that hat trick, but it's too bad that didn't work out."
After the arduous 13-hour bus ride home, the Oil Kings will go back to their familiar win-and-wait routine. They'll likely get a day or two off before beginning to prepare for their third-round opponent.
Tickets for Games 1 and 2 of the third round go on sale on Thursday.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
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