The Edmonton Oil Kings dive right back into action as they return home for a double-header weekend after a busy Saskatchewan/Manitoba road trip in which the team posted a successful record of 3-0-1.
The opening frame offered several chances for both teams, with back and forth action on each end of the ice. However, the Hitmen were the only team able to capitalize on their opportunities early on.
The first strike from Calgary came on the man-advantage, as Philadelphia Flyers prospect Egor Zamula blasted a slapshot from the point that beat Todd Scott clean to open up the scoring at Rogers Place.
Jake Neighbors came close to responding for the Oil Kings in what would be the team’s best scoring chance of the opening period, as the NHL Draft hopeful walked into the slot for a prime scoring opportunity, but was stopped by the blocker of Jack McNaughton.
The Battle of Alberta then ensued at full-force when a deafening hit by Oil Kings 17-year-old defencemen Logan Dowhaniuk caused Tye Carriere to retaliate by tossing his gloves and bringing the game a spirited fight that sparked Oil Kings fans to jump out of their seats.
Vancouver Canucks 2019 fifth-round draft pick Carson Focht added onto the Hitmen’s lead after a slick pass from Dakota Krebs following a zone-entry allowed Focht to walk-in and laser a shot past Scott to make the game 2-0.
In the dying seconds of the first period, David Kope put his body on the line as he blocked two consecutive shots from Canucks defensive prospect Jett Woo. This play was a huge note to Kope’s level of character, as the second shot hit him directly in the face from no more than 4-feet away. He still got up, brought himself down the tunnel, and returned in time for next periods puck drop.
The second period quickly provided a different story for the Oil Kings. As Conner McDonald dragged the puck across the blueline just long enough to pull the Hitmen penalty killers in before dishing it off to Carter Souch, who had all the time in the world to walk in just above the top of the circle and capitalize on an early powerplay opportunity. The goal cut the Hitmen’s lead in half less than 21 seconds into the middle frame.
A game-misconduct for a hit to the head by Adam Kydd on Oil Kings defencemen Jacson Alexander awarded the team with a five-minute powerplay. Unfortunately, the play would end the night for both players. Oil Kings Head Coach Brad Lauer said that Alexander is currently being evaluated.
The lengthy powerplay sparked a surge of offensive production for the Oil Kings as they added three more goals on the man advantage. The first of those goals came from the team’s newcomer Ethan McIndoe, who scored his first goal in front of the Oil Kings fans that the veteran forward couldn’t be more excited to play in front of.
“The crowd was pretty good tonight, and it’s my second game total at Rogers so I’m pretty excited to play here,” stated McIndoe on his first home-game experience with the Oil Kings.
Calgary was able to add a few goals of their own in the midst of the Oil Kings swarm of offense. Team captain, Mark Kastelic broke in by himself on the Hitmen’s powerplay and was able to utilize the Oil Kings defender as a screen that allowed his shot to squeak under the pad of Scott.
Later into the third a point shot from Jackson van de Leest took a couple of weird bounces, with Sean Tschirgel getting the last touch on the puck before finding the back of the net to bring the game within one.
However, Souch would put an end to Calgary’s hopes of climbing back into the game when he shoveled a puck from center ice into an open net to complete his hat-trick and end off a very special night with a 6-4 Oil Kings win.
“I think it was only my third career muli-goal game” said Souch. So it’s safe to say it will be a night the 17-year-old NHL draft hopeful will remember for a while. However, his coach Brad Lauer thinks there’s more behind the big night for Souch:
“He’s put in the time in the summer, he’s worked hard. You can tell when he left last year he wanted more, which is a credit to him.” said Lauer, “He’s got a huge upside and he’s off to a good start. He needs to maintain that.”
The Oil Kings won Saturday nights game on the backbone of a powerplay that was firing at all cylinders and eventually became too much for the Hitmen to handle.
“The last four or five games we’ve moved the puck around a lot quicker and that’s setting us up for shots. We’ve got a good net presence with size in front of the net, and we’re putting pucks on net when we need to.” said Lauer on the state of the team’s red hot powerplay and the keys that have allowed them to be so successful as of late.
The three stars tonight were 1) Carter Souch 2) Mathew Robertson 3) Carson Focht. Oil Kings powerplay went 4-for-6, with the Hitmen’s powerplay going 2-for-4. Carter Souch recored a hat trick bringing his point total up to 8 points in 10 games this season. The final tally of shots on goal favored the Oil Kings 32-23.
Next up the Oil Kings suit up again at Rogers Place, Sunday at 4:00 pm to play host to a Thanksgiving showdown versus the Portland Winterhawks. While the Hitmen head back home to the Saddledome to prepare for a Monday afternoon battle against the Saskatoon Blades.