No. 1 star: Michael St. Croix, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Odd, is it not, how a premier scorer can be quiet for several games and then snap to it during winning time. St. Croix, fulfilling the promise that Edmonton saw when they took a smallish centre from Winnipeg with the No. 4 pick in the bantam draft four years ago, came through with one goal and one assist in the 4-1 Oil Kings win that gave them the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The Oil Kings had a tough loss in Game 6 on Saturday, losing on a late goal by the Winterhawks' Oliver Gabriel. But the fact St. Croix, their 100-point scorer, scored a goal on a great solo effort was a positive omen for them. It was his first goal of the series and he carried that over to the decider.
Edmonton, showing no ill effects from getting home around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, started well in front of the crowd of 12,514. Rhett Rachinski got an early rebound goal after the Winterhawks defence, which had a dreadful night, failed to clear traffic from their crease. Tyler Maxwell's 2-0 goal in the final seconds of the frame really seemed to show Edmonton had more in reserve. On that play, St. Croix and recent Edmonton Oilers signee Kristians Pelss jimmied the puck loose from Portland's Troy Rutkowski at the 'Hawks blueline, creating a 3-on-1 rush where St. Croix fed Pelss, who dished to Maxwell for a rocket over goalie Mac Carruth's right shoulder.
St. Croix then added the third goal in the second period. Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Keegan Lowe stepped up in the neutral zone to create a turnover and draw Portland's Derrick Pouliot up from his defence spot, creating a space for Pelss to swoop in and carry deep into the Portland zone. Pelss patiently waited until St. Croix was in prime position and then gave him a perfect pass that was one-timed past Carruth.
St. Croix also made a big defensive play in the third period, tearing back to cut off a goalmouth pass to Portland's Brendan Leipsic. There was probably a less than 5 per cent chance that Portland was coming back at that point, but you have to love the effort.
No. 2 star: Kristians Pelss, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Pelss, as noted up top, had two assists for Edmonton, both on goals that came off turnovers in the neutral zone. The Latvian's work essentially typified the all-around effort the Oil Kings conjured up in a do-or-done game, as they arguably played their most complete game of the playoffs with everything on the line. Pelss will be the first Latvian to play in the MasterCard Memorial Cup since Martins Karsums, who now plays in the KHL, did so in 2006.
Calgary Flames-drafted goalie Laurent Brossoit was named the post-season MVP. Brossoit finished the playoffs with a 2.04 average and .933 save percentage.
No. 3 star: T.J. Foster, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
How great is this? Foster (1G-1A) is a Western Hockey League champion close to the first anniversary of the fire that ravaged his hometown of Slave Lake, Alta.; it might only be a drop in the bucket for a town that suffered deep scars last May, but hopefully some people take inspiration from the hometowner playing in the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Foster, who is an Oil Kings alternate captain, was flummoxed and frustrated offensively throughout much of the series. But the 19-year-old was in rare form from his first shift onward Sunday. In the second period, he intercepted a pass and took off on a 2-on-1 rush before ripping a shot by Carruth for a 4-0 lead. Defensively, Foster's checking also helped the Oil Kings shut out Portland scoring stars Sven Bärtschi and Ty Rattie.
That goal with 9:44 left in the second period pretty much was stick-a-fork-in-Portland moment. Winterhawks coach-GM Mike Johnston burned his timeout after that tally even though he would have had a break moments later with the mid-period TV timeout.
Honourable mention: Mark Pysyk, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The captain and Buffalo Sabres prospect helped set up the forcefield that Bärtschi, Rattie and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Marcel Noebels could not penetrate during the final two games. There really isn't much else to say about Pysyk's performance because he was such a model of economy and efficiency. Edmonton had a huge edge in zone time and chances during the first two periods.
Edmonton's win means each Memorial Cup team boasts one defenceman who played on Canada's national junior team earlier this season. All seven played into May.
Honourable mention: Oliver Gabriel, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The Edmonton native, on his 21st birthday, scored Portland's only goal in a losing effort. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect had to endure standing helplessly by last spring when he missed the WHL final with a shoulder injury. He did his utmost to prevent Portland from losing a second consecutive final, scoring three goals across the final two games, including Game 6's third-period winner. An athlete seldom gets to win his last game, but Gabriel deserves some attention for the effort.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.