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Edmonton Journal article (Line a bright spot on tough night)

May 22 2012 at 4:25 PM
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Line a bright spot on tough night

Lazar, Samuelsson, Legault gave Sea Dogs fits

By John MacKinnon, Edmonton Journal

May 22, 2012

In the game within a game, Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar stood out on Monday night, 5-2 loss to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the MasterCard Memorial Cup or not.

He was run over early in the first period by Saint John defenceman Charles-Olivier Roussel along the end boards, then flattened Sea Dogs sniper Zack Phillips later in the period. The Saint John star limped to the dressing room after the hit, returning later in the period.

Lazar and his linemates Henrik Samuelsson and Stephane Legault, who scored one of Edmonton's goals, were a going concern all game long for Edmonton, at both ends of the ice.

That's something that could not be said for all the Oil Kings, which is not surprising when you lose 5-2.

Not that the 17-year-old from Vernon was about to give himself a passing grade.

"We just couldn't get'er done tonight," Lazar told reporters. "There are a couple of guys on the team that need to pick up the effort and I'm calling myself out on that one because I need to play better."

Elaborating on his self-assessment, Lazar said: "Turnovers killed us and I turned over a couple of pucks that ended up in the back of our net, but short-term memory, now we've got to rebound."

The Knights, 6-2 losers to Shawinigan on Sunday, had a night off to recalibrate their game, mind you. The Oil Kings have less than 24 hours.

As self-critical as Lazar was, his coach singled he and his linemates out for praise on a night the Oil Kings could have done themselves a massive favour with a victory.

"I thought Curtis Lazar and Henrik Samuelsson and Stephane Legault were outstanding tonight," said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. "We're a team that has to have 20 guys going every night. We had some passengers tonight - we need these guys to step up."

Lazar plays an efficient game, normally. He seems to be in the right spots more often than not, keeps things simple, goes hard to the net, that sort of thing.

Does giving and taking hits help focus his effort?

"I think so," Lazar said. "For me, I need that to wake me up, and that sort of gets me involved.

"The hit on Phillips was borderline. I felt bad and I said 'Sorry' to him.

"I think he was a little surprised, but that's part of the game and that's (hitting) part of my strength."

Bouncing back was key to the team's success in the WHL playoffs and they'll have to draw on that tonight, as well.

"This is what you play the whole season for, to get this chance. It's a quick turnaround but we're going to be rested and ready to go."


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