Edmonton, AB – Another solid effort by the Edmonton Oil Kings against a top-ranked team in the WHL resulted in another moral victory for the home side, but unfortunately no points.
The Oil Kings hosted Brayden Schenn, Curtis Hamilton and the league-leading Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday at Rexall Place, and despite outshooting their formidable opponents 37-31, they came up just short in a 4-3 decision. The tough loss came just four days after the Oil Kings dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to a strong Medicine Hat Tigers squad.
The Oil Kings played the first six and a half minutes seemingly a bit starstruck against Canadian World Junior team members Schenn and Hamilton, as Schenn made it 1-0 just 4:26 in on the power play and Josh Nicholls scored just two minutes later to make it 2-0. Edmonton called a timeout after the second goal, which completely changed the game’s momentum.
The home side dominated the final 13 minutes of the first period, and Keegan Lowe score on a one-timer from the slot to cut the Blades’ lead to 2-1. Captain Mark Pysyk then tied it up midway through the second, undressing fellow Sherwood Park product Duncan Siemens and going top shelf on Saskatoon goalie Steven Stanford. Darren Dietz scored late in the frame, though, to give the Blades a 3-2 advantage.
The Oil Kings started the final frame behind the eight-ball, as Jordan Hickmott was given a five-minute major for boarding at the end of the second. Not only did they kill off the full five minutes, Travis Ewanyk also converted on a two-on-one break with Mike Piluso for the short-handed equalizer.
But the Oil Kings couldn’t take the lead, as Marek Viedensky deflected a shot through goalie Jon Groenheyde’s five-hole 7:28 into the third for the eventual game-winner. The Blades’ slim win was a historic one for their veteran Head Coach and General Manager Lorne Molleken, who earned his 500th career WHL victory.
There was certainly no love lost between the Eastern Conference rivals, as there were three fights in the game, in addition to Hickmott’s game misconduct. The Oil Kings’ Adrian Van de Mosselaer, Travis Ewanyk and Klarc Wilson all had spirited scraps with the Blades’ Teigan Zahn, Lukas Sutter and Dalton Thrower, respectively.
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The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Oil Kings (22-23-0-3), who remain in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, as they head south to Red Deer next to take on top-ranked 2011 NHL Draft-eligible WHL player Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Central Division-leading Rebels (33-12-1-4) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the ENMAX Centrium.
The Oil Kings return to Rexall Place on Saturday to host the Prince Albert Raiders at 7 p.m. in another key conference matchup, as the Raiders (19-26-2-3) are just four points back of Edmonton in the standings. It’s also Michael Jackson Night, as the Oil Kings will pay tribute to the late King of Pop.
Tickets to every Oil Kings home game are available starting at just $15 at any Ticketmaster outlet, online at oilkings.ca, or by calling 780-414-GOAL (4625).