The Edmonton Oil Kings have gotten off to great start following a well deserved Christmas break. They are 2-0 since returning to action, including an 8-3 victory in front of a home crowd of 7,600 in attendance for the team’s first game back at Rogers Place.
The game didn’t appear it would be a blowout win for the Oil Kings. In fact, until late in the third period, the outcome of the game was still in question.
Red Deer brought the pressure early on, generating a large number of shots on net and eventually capitalizing with a goal from Josh Tarzwell. The opening goal was his 15th of the season.
From there, the power play went to work for the Oil Kings. Dylan Guenther executed patience and loaded up a heavy shot from above the top of the circle, which he rifled past Byron Fancy.
Tarzwell added another tally for the Rebels — his second of the game — off a tip in front of Sebastian Cossa’s crease to regain Red Deer’s lead late in the second period.
The impressive night for 2020 NHL Draft eligible Jake Neighbours began as he picked up a loose puck off a misplay by the Rebels during a transition. He walked in all alone with nothing but time against Fancy. Neighbours was able to outwait the Rebels goaltender to slide in a goal to bring this back-and-forth game back to even.
Zak Smith added the Rebels’ final goal of the night as they took back a 3-2 lead just 12 seconds after Neighbours tied the game early in the third period.
The instant response from Red Deer to the Oil Kings goal seemed to quiet the large crowd at Rogers Place, but just a minute later, Ethan McIndoe added a marker for Edmonton that had to go under review. When the referee came out to inform the fans that the goal had counted, the building became electric. It seemed as though the Oil Kings were able to use that energy to fuel an offensive breakthrough.
Neighbours soon after gave the fans another reason to stand to their feet, as he lasered a backhand shot over the glove of Fancy to give Edmonton its first lead of the night.
“Once we got that third one, the arena was just buzzing, and we were really able to feed off that,” stated Neighbours on the effect the electric crowd of Oil Kings faithful had on the team’s ability to come back late in the third period.
From there, the outbreak of Oil Kings offensive production took off, as Guenther, Neighbours, and Riley Sawchuk combined for a total of three back-to-back goals in the third period. Neighbours recorded a hat trick on the night, and Guenther scored two tallies of his own. The two offensive phenoms were selected as the first and second stars of the night, respectively.
Vladimir Alistrov added his ninth goal of the season, and defencemen Loeden Schaufler added his third as an Oil King in the final minutes of the third period. Edmonton won the second of back-to-back games against the Red Deer Rebels by a score of 8-3.
The win allowed the Oil Kings to get off to a great start to the second half of their season. Head coach Brad Lauer emphasized how the games are becoming more important as the team heads into the second half.
“Our biggest message after Christmas was the second half. It’s always tough games. We have to understand the importance of every game and making sure we’re ready to play every game because we are getting everybody’s A-game, and we got to be ready for that,” stated Lauer on his team’s goals heading into the second half of the season.
“The second half of the season is important, and that’s going to keep us focused.”
- The three stars tonight were 1) Jake Neighbours 2) Dylan Guenther 3) Josh Tarzwell
- The win improves the Oil Kings’ record to 24-6-5 on the season
- Shots finished 40-31 in favour of the Oil Kings
- Sebastian Cossa made 28 saves to record his second win in a row in back-to-back games, and his 14th win of the season
The Oil Kings take on the Calgary Hitmen at the Scotiabank Saddledome on December 30th at 7:00 pm MST before returning home to take on the Everett Silvertips in a New Years Day classic at 2:00 pm MST at Rogers Place. Click here to get your tickets.