Home Game #36: Wrapping Up the Regular Season

March 20th, 2015: Red Deer Rebels 6, Oil Kings 2

The Oil Kings wrapped up their regular season at Rexall Place in game 71 against the Red Deer Rebels on Friday–and boy, was it ugly.

Things didn’t seem too bad going into the third period. The game was tied 2-2 and despite a short-handed goal against (Brooks Maxwell) in the first, Lane Bauer had scored on the powerplay early in the second to even things up with the extra man. Riley Sheen had put the Rebels back up, but luckily, Brandon Baddock scored his 19th of the season late in the period to bring them back to even by the end of the second.

Things really unravelled in the third.

In what was one of the worst periods of Oil Kings hockey in recent memory, the Rebels were able to get four soft goals past Tristan Jarry–playing what I think was one of the sloppiest games of his career–including yet another shorthanded goal, this time by Captain Wyatt Johnson. Even stay-at-home defenseman Nelson Nogier got in on the action, scoring just the 4th goal of his 165-game WHL career. The Oil Kings couldn’t get anything going offensively, either, despite four powerplays in the period–including a double minor for boarding by Grayson Pawlenchuk that became a full 2:00 5-on-3 with another boarding call about a minute later. Brooks Maxwell led the Rebels with a 4-point, +4 night.

It certainly didn’t do anything to instil confidence for the playoffs in the 16,000 fans that showed up to Rexall Place to see the team in their final homegame of the regular season.

The Oil Kings will begin what isn’t expected to be a lengthy playoff run on March 26th when they take on the conference-leading Brandon Wheat Kings.

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Home Game #35: Oil Kings Wipe the Blades

March 10th, 2015: Oil Kings 8, Saskatoon Blades 1

Things got started before the visitors had left the dressing room last night, with Lane Bauer scoring on rookie goaltender Brock Hamm less than a minute into the game. The rest of the first was much less eventful and ended with Brandon Baddock scoring with 13 seconds left in the period to end the first with a two goal lead for the home team.

Things began to spiral out of control in the second with Saskatoon marking up the penalty side of the score sheet. Two early power play goals for Edmonton (Edgars Kulda and Davis Koch) gave the Oil Kings a four goal lead before the game hit the twenty-five minute mark. Later in the second things reached a boiling point as the gloves were dropped and Jake Kohlhauser and Josh Uhrich had a spirited bout, which ended with Uhrich literally putting Kohlhauser to bed. That brought Uhrich’s game to an end as he was dealt a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, a major for fighting, and a game misconduct while Kohlhauser only received a major for fighting. Saskatoon finally got found their way onto the board for something other than penalties as Ryan Graham got the lone goal for the boys in blue. Dysin Mayo returned the four goal lead to Edmonton while the clock ticked down, ending the period 5-1.

The third saw another fight between the two teams as Blake Orban decided that he was going to fight Mitch Skapski, who wanted no part in the tilt. Three more goals from the Oil Kings–Brayden Brown, Andrew Koep, and Tyson Gruninger–for a final score of 8-1 for the home team. Edmonton swept Saskatoon in the regular season series four games to none, outscoring the Blades 26-8 throughout the four meetings.

Eight Oil Kings scoring with eight different players recording multipoint nights meant that streaks were extended. Brett Pollock is on a nine game point streak (6 goals, 7 assists), while Baddock, Koch, and Bauer now have points in four straight games.

With the win last night, the Oil Kings are sitting safely in the second Wild Card spot with eight points on Moose Jaw and one point behind Kootenay who holds the first Wild Card spot in the East.

There are only four games left in the regular season and the last home game is a week from Friday (March 20) as the Oil Kings take on the Rebels.

Home Game #33: Oil Kings fall short to Pats

March 6th, 2015: Regina Pats 6, Oil Kings 4

After skipping a few home games because of student obligations, we finally returned to Rexall.

A couple quick goals from Regina–a power play goal a minute in from Colby Williams and a shortie from Sam Steel–gave the Pats an early two goal lead. However that was not enough for the visitors in the first as Cole Benson and Brandon Baddock scored one apiece going into the second tied at two.

Early in the second Regina regained their two goal lead from the first with Adam Brooks and Taylor Cooper finding the back of the net. Later in the second, things got heated as Aaron Irving and Jesse Gabrielle dropped the mitts and looked to spark something in their teams.

The last period was pretty dead until the last five minutes Braden Christoffer gave the Pats a little more wiggle room on another power play goal. But within 30 seconds, Edgars Kulda and Brett Pollock each scored to come within one of the Pats. An empty net goal from Christoffer with 26 seconds to go crushed the hopes of a come back and Regina took the game 6-4. The Oil Kings went 2-1-1-0 against the Pats this season.

With a goal and an assist, Pollock is on a point streak with 11 points in seven games. He also became the 10th player in Oil Kings modern franchise history to score 30 or more goals in a season.

Edmonton is still holding on to that last Wild Card spot, sitting just a point behind Kootenay with a bit of cushion room, six points ahead of Moose Jaw. However Kootenay and Moose Jaw are a game behind Edmonton. Former Oil Kings have also been in the news lately, as the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team–with six former Oil Kings on the roster–won the Canada West Championship on Saturday night. The alumni have been racking up individual awards, with T.J. Foster taking home the Canada West Outstanding Player of the Year in addition to top scorer. After taking a year off hockey and then committing to the Bears, Stephane Legault had a triumphant return to the ice, winning Rookie of the Year. Foster and Jordan Hickmott were Canada West First-Team All-Stars and Legault and Riley Kieser made the Canada West All-Rookie team.

With only six games left in the regular season, the Oil Kings are set to honour fans on Saturday night for the final Battle of Alberta as Edmonton looks to keep their hands on the last wild card spot.

Home Game #30: Pink in the Rink

February 22nd, 2015: Oil Kings 5, Medicine Hat Tigers 1

The Oil Kings went Pink for their annual Pink in the Rink game in support of Breast Cancer Research. Between 50/50 proceeds and game-used stick and jersey auctions, the game raised over $45,000. Well done, Oil Kings!

In addition to a great charitable donation, the team also treated the fans to a great game as they took on the division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers. The Oil Kings had a great start, peppering Tigers goalie Marek Langhamer with 18 shots in the first period while holding the Tigers to just 5 shots. Langhamer stood tall for most of the period, but his team got into some penalty trouble in the late stages, giving the Oil Kings a lengthy 5-on-3. Brett Pollock scored on the powerplay at the 18-minute mark, and Edgars Kulda added a beautiful goal on some sloppy defensive play 12 seconds after the second penalty expired.

It was the Oil Kings who should have been on their heels in the second period as the Tigers bounced back with 15 shots to the Oil Kings’ 5. However, the Oil Kings were the only team to make it onto the scoresheet with two beautiful goals from Luke Bertolucci and Brandon Baddock. The Oil Kings also took the only penalties of the period, but managed to kill off all three. This was a huge period for Oil Kings star Tristan Jarry, who finally broke the last of Laurent Brossoit’s team records by making his 3553rd career save. Jarry also added an assist on Bertolucci’s goal.

The Tigers couldn’t get anything going in the third period and were unable to make any dent into the Oil Kings’ lead before Dysin Mayo made it 5-0 on another powerplay goal that squeezed through Langhamer’s pads. The team finished 2-for-4 on the powerplay. It was almost a perfect game for the penalty kill, but Matt Bradley scored on the powerplay with just over a minute and a half left, breaking Jarry’s shut out. The penalty kill sits 2nd on the league with an even 85%.

Tigers rookie Zach Fischer and Oil Kings veteran Blake Orban had a spirited bout in the first period that left Fischer bloody and Orban mugging for the crowd with a huge smile. Still a pretty good showing for the 17-year-old Fischer against the much more experienced Orban.

After dominating the central for most of the season, the Tigers have fallen into a rough stretch, dropping 8 of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Calgary Hitmen have won 9 of 10 to bring them into a tie for the division lead. The Oil Kings currently hold the last spot in the Eastern Conference Wild Card standings.

Home Game #29: Family Day

February 16th, 2015: Oil Kings 5, Prince George Cougars 1

Monday afternoon’s game was all about former captain Griffin Reinhart as 1000 bobble heads featuring the former captain holding the Memorial Cup were handed out to fans.

The game got started early, with Andrew Koep scoring on the powerplay a mere two minutes into the game. Shortly after, a beautiful goal from Cole Benson would put the Oil Kings ahead by two. Jansen Harkins would score the lone goal for Prince George in the first, which would account for his 100th WHL career point. The second period was extremely uneventful, with no goals and only two minor penalties–both against the Oil Kings. The third period was an entirely different story as tempers flared. Three goals were scored by the Oil Kings–Lane Bauer, Brandon Baddock, and Benson–and the penalties racked up on the scoresheet. A scrum broke out and four players per team ended up in the penalty boxes. The Oil Kings were able to hold their own as they took a 5-1 victory and held on to their playoff spot.

Last Wednesday in Vancouver, Tristan Jarry got the call for his 148th career game, which is a new franchise record as he surpassed former Oil King Laurent Brossoit. With the win in yesterday’s game, Jarry also broke Brossoit’s win record, as Jarry now has 89 career wins. The current record for career saves–held by Brossoit–is 3552 and Jarry is currently sitting 68 saves behind with 3484.

The Oil Kings are in Cranbrook on Friday as they take on the Ice in their final matchup of the season. They’re back at Rexall on Sunday against the Medicine Hat Tigers, with a 1 pm puck drop.

Home Game #27: The Kings held off Leon

January 28th, 2015: Oil Kings 2, Kelowna Rockets 1 (SO)

After a dismal showing on Sunday (5-2 loss to Medicine Hat) and dropping four consecutive games, the WHL’s best were back in town.

With their star-studded roster–including Oilers top prospect Leon Draisaitl who would play his first game back at Rexall since being sent down to the WHL, and Captain Madison Bowey and Josh Morrissey fresh off the Team Canada gold medal championship World Juniors team–everyone in the building was excited to see the second match up between the Oil Kings and Rockets.

Things were off to a much different start than anticipated. Nothing truly exciting happened until about halfway through the first, when Riley Stadel and Aaron Irving dropped the mitts. It was a solid fight between the two, and Stadel would leave the ice with a cut on his forehead. It was just after that when Joe Gatenby put Kelowna on the board, scoring his first ever WHL goal.

A second period power play goal from Dysin Mayo saw the home team even the score, which would ultimately send this game into a scoreless overtime and result in a shoot out.

Edgars Kulda would be the first to shoot being shut down by Jake Morrissey. Nick Merkley answered for Kelowna and they were ahead by one again. Cole Benson would take Edmonton’s second shot and miss, however Brett Pollock scored on the third attempt to send it to another round. The Alaskan Assassin, Lane Bauer, would get the game winner as the Oil Kings collected two points and a 2-1 win over the Rockets.

Tristan Jarry had an outstanding performance, facing 36 shots and allowing only one. In addition to that, he shut down the likes of Bowey, Draisaitl and Rourke Chartier (leading WHL scoring) in the shoot out. He rightfully took home the first star for his remarkable game play.

The other thing that was critical to the Oil Kings success last night was their penalty kill. Kelowna had eight power plays and Edmonton shut all of them right down. This is a welcome change from what fans saw on the weekend, where they allowed two PPGs in each of the last four losses. They are currently sitting third in the league at 84.7% on the PK.

The Oil Kings head south this weekend to take on Red Deer and Calgary and are back in action at Rexall Place on Tuesday against Lethbridge.

Home Game #25: Oil Kings drop three straight

January 24th, 2015: Calgary Hitmen 5, Oil Kings 2

The Oil Kings were unable to capitalize on a good start, allowing five unanswered goals to drop a 5-2 decision to their bitter rivals.

This one started out pretty good for the home team. While the Hitmen had the edge on the shot clock for the whole game, the Oil Kings were able to get a couple behind Hitmen goalie Mack Shields in the first period by taking advantage of some Calgary mistakes. Marshall Donald got his first goal as an Oil King against his former team off a perfectly executed 2-on-1 with Luke Bertolucci, and Brett Pollock scored on a broken play about three and a half minutes later. Lane Bauer and Edgars Kulda were also denied on breakaways in the first–which may have been what allowed the Hitmen back into the game.

The second period was a mess with plenty of sloppy play on both sides. One one rush, the Danish Destroyer, true to his wrecking ball reputation, completely obliterated Mack Shields in the crease–not only did this make for a tense couple of minutes while Shields tried to collect himself, but Eller’s ensuing penalty (and Donald’s, leading to a 5-on-3) resulted in Calgary’s tying goal from Adam Tambellini, his second of the period.

Elliott Peterson scored again on the powerplay early in the third. The Oil Kings had a lot of penalty problems, giving Calgary seven powerplays (2-for-7) to their four (0-for-4), which didn’t help in winning back any momentum. The game was still in reach for much of the final frame until an awful stretch saw the Hitmen put it away with two goals in nine seconds. The Oil Kings only managed six shots in the third period.

The Oil Kings have lost four of their last five games but still sit two games above .500 and remain in 7th place in the conference. The team has also had a great week for attendance, with over 10,000 on hand–mostly school children–for Thursday’s morning game against Kootenay, and a great crowd of 9,700+ for a Saturday night battle of Alberta. Many of those were kids visiting for the team’s Scout Sleepover event.

We will once again be missing Sunday’s game against the division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers due to prior obligations. Sorry!

Home Game #23: Close, But Not Close Enough

January 18th, 2015: Victoria Royals 4, Oil Kings 3 (OT)

Things got off to a very slow start on Sunday as the Oil Kings took on the Victoria Royals. It was not until late in the first when things picked up: Alex Forsberg notched the first goal of the game to put Victoria up, and less than a minute later, Greg Chase stretched the Royals’ lead to two on the power play. As the final seconds counted down, fans saw a first period fight: Dysin Mayo and Austin Carroll, which was most likely precipitated by Mayo’s actions just mere seconds before the gloves dropped.

Early in the second, Chase received a slashing minor in addition to a misconduct, and the Oil Kings were able to put themselves back in the game on the PP. Davis Koch netted his fifth of the season to cut Victoria’s lead to one. But a late PPG from Jack Walker returned the two goal lead to the visitors.

It was in the last five minutes of the game that the Oil Kings really woke up. Lane Bauer and Luke Bertolucci scored within ten seconds of each other at the 16 minute mark to push the game to overtime. It seemed natural that Chase was the one that got the overtime winner for Victoria, with a beautifully executed two-on-one, making the final 4-3 Royals.

The two teams combined for 48 penalty minutes, and in turn 14 power play chances divided evenly between the two teams. Edmonton allowed two PPGs, whereas Victoria held the Oil Kings to only one. However worth noting, the OKs PK is still something to brag about, sitting third in the league with an 85.8%, compared to Victoria’s 13th rank at 78.9%. Unfortunately, Edmonton still sits fourth last in the league on the powerplay, with lots of room for improvement.

The Oil Kings are back at it on Thursday, as they take on Kootenay Ice in the morning for Hockey Hooky day. Unfortunately, we are university students, and we can’t cut class at our leisure, so we won’t have another post until the weekend!

Home Game #22: Pats No Match

January 16th, 2015: Oil Kings 6, Regina Pats 2

It was an exciting game at Rexall Place on Friday night as a healthy crowd watched the Oil Kings look more like the team that won the Memorial Cup last year than the young team that hit the ice.

The Oil Kings jumped out to an early lead 4:49 into the first when Dysin Mayo completed a beautiful passing play from Cole Benson and Edgars Kulda. Lane Bauer added another less than five minutes later on another nice play (and let’s just say he wasn’t done there). Benson was definitely ready to go for this one as he set up rookie Brayden Brown with an absolutely beautiful pass, giving the Oil Kings a 3-0 lead, and giving him two assists in his first game back after missing more than a month and a half to injury.

The team didn’t slow down in the second. Pats Captain Braden Cristoffer took some ill-advised penalties to start the period–interference and high-sticking on the same shift–and the Oil Kings’ powerplay made him pay, scoring a goal in each half of the double minor (Bauer and Bertolucci) to make it 5-0 with well over half the game to play. That would be it for Pats starter Daniel Wapple, who made just 9 saves on 14 shots before being replaced by Tyler Brown. There was a fair amount of rough-stuff in this game as well, with a number of big and/or dangerous hits being thrown–including one by Cristoffer that led to a fight between him and Blake Orban shortly after he exited the box. Bauer was able to complete his hattrick at the 11:10 mark of the period, which was great to see for a kid who has had trouble finding the net for most of the season–the Alaskan is up to 16 goals on the season after scoring 6 in 7 games this month. Regina’s Austin Wagner broke the shutout for Tristan Jarry on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 before the end of the period. Jarry continued his outstanding play of late, finishing with 29 saves and bringing his 2015 stats to 4-1 with a 1.41 GAA and .955 SV%.

The third wasn’t nearly as good for the Oil Kings as they got pretty sloppy, but they managed to hold the Pats to just one more goal and finish it off with a commanding 6-2 win. This one may have had a high cost, though, as leading scorer Brett Pollock went down with a potential injury after going hard into the boards in the third. It just wasn’t Pollock’s night–he appeared to have scored his 100th career WHL point with an assist on Bauer’s third goal, but a scoring change later pulled him back to 99. Hopefully he’ll be ready to play soon so he can get into those triple digits.

Marshall Donald made his debut for the Oil Kings, having played 32 games for the Hitmen before being traded to Edmonton near the deadline. Personally, I was very impressed–he made some great plays defensively (including a clear from the crease to save a goal) and was very physical–in fact, his first play as an Oil King was a huge hipcheck just a couple minutes into the game! Welcome to the team, Marshall–I hope you’ll do that #8 proud.

Home Game #21: Final Battle of the Thrones

January 13th, 2015: Brandon Wheat Kings 2, Oil Kings 1

It was a busy weekend for the Oil Kings. After sending Mitchell Walter to Portland for a fourth-round pick in 2016, and picking up defenseman Marshall Donald from Calgary for a fourth-round pick in 2015 on deadline day, Edmonton swept the season series against Swift Current to wrap up a 3-in-3. The Oil Kings returned home on Tuesday to take on the Wheaties for the teams’ final match up of the season. It also marked the return of the Danish Destroyer to Rexall Place–Mads Eller and the rest of Team Denmark wrapped up their successful World Junior tournament with an 8-0 loss to Canada in the quarter-finals.

This was the closest match up between the two teams, with only three goals through the entire 60 minutes. John Quenneville put Brandon up late in the first on a powerplay goal. It wasn’t until halfway through the second when Brett Pollock tied things up. However, the tie was short lived as Ryan Pilon returned the lead to the Wheat Kings shortly after. The third was scoreless, and the Oil Kings fell 2-1 in the final match up, dropping to 1-2-1-0 to finish the season series.

After being named CHL Goaltender of the Week at the beginning of December, Tristan Jarry went on a bit of a downhill slide. Since the New Year he has picked up his game again, and was rewarded with his second CHL Goaltender of the Week nod this season.

Also worth noting, Ashton Sautner hit 100 career points on Sunday against the Broncos. He currently sits seventh among WHL defensemen for points.

Pollock is also on a streak right now, with ten points in seven games. He is also nearing the 100 point milestone, with 99 points in his WHL career.

Regina is in town on Friday for the first time this season. The two teams have met twice in Regina already, with the series split.