Special teams did not go in favour of the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday night as they fall 5-2 to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on home ice.
Oil Kings fans welcomed back Matthew Robertson to Rogers Place as he made his first appearance in Edmonton since returning from the New York Rangers. Between the pipes, Todd Scott made his third straight start, and Brendan Kuny slotted in on the fourth line, making his regular season debut.
It was a lively opening minute with both teams getting great chances to get the scoring started early. At one end, the Oil Kings were denied by Bryan Thomson’s left pad which was then followed up with a big stop from Todd Scott at the other end to keep the scoreboard empty.
Lethbridge got the scoring underway at the midway point of the first period. Scott stopped a point shot from Alex Cotton; however, the Oil Kings shot-stopper failed to control the rebound and left it on the doorstep for Dino Kambeitz to knock in for the lone goal of the opening frame.
In the second period, the Oil Kings came out as the better team and were rewarded early. Carter Souch slid a backhand pass through the Hurricanes crease and found Vladimir Alistrov on the back post for his first of the year. Edmonton continued to mount the pressure on the Hurricanes and were given an opportunity on the power play midway through the period. Koletrane Wilson was called for two minutes for a check to the head. Despite that, it was the road team that took advantage of the man advantage. Veteran forward, Riley Sawchuk turned the puck over on the opposition blue line with a stray pass that found the stick of Dylan Cozens — the last Hurricanes player you’d want to give a breakaway to. The Buffalo Sabres first rounder made no mistake in giving the ‘Canes their lead back.
“There are certain players in our league like that,” said head coach Brad Lauer when talking about Cozens. “When he’s on the ice, you’ve got to be aware. He was a high draft pick for a reason, and he’s a big part of their offence.”
The Oil Kings struggled to maintain the Hurricanes star who finished the night with a season high four points, including the game winning goal.
Before that game winner, however, Sawchuk tied the game up at 2-2 with 21 seconds to go in the second period. The Prince Albert, SK, native tracked the puck coming off the backboards and fired it by Thomson for his third of the season.
Robertson came close to giving the Kings their first lead of the game. He did beat Thomson with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff dot but couldn’t beat the crossbar. It soon all fell apart for the home team. After Cozens found the net, almost immediately Robertson hit the frame of the goal. They then got themselves into penalty trouble which ultimately decided their fate.
Oliver Okuliar tipped a Calen Addison point shot by Scott to extend the Hurricanes lead to two. Less than a minute later, another Addison point shot made it through the crowd and this time beat Scott with no tip needed.
“Obviously, there are still some areas we got to make sure we’re better in,” said Lauer when reflecting on the 5-2 loss on home ice. “They took advantage of their power play, and that was the outcome of the game.”
The Oil Kings will look to shrug off this home ice loss on Wednesday night in Swift Current against the Broncos.
Dylan Cozens put on a show this afternoon, putting up four points in only his second game back with the Hurricanes. The Oil Kings failed to capitalise on their power-play chances, going 0-for-4 on the night. Todd Scott had a strong game in goal with 25 saves, despite allowing five goals. Your three stars of the game were 3) Riley Sawchuk with one goal, 2) Oliver Okuliar with one goal and an assist, and 1) Dylan Cozens with four points — two goals and two assists.