Make it seven in a row to start the 2020-21 season for the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The team closed out their three-game weekend series against the Red Deer Rebels in style on Sunday night, skating away with a 5-2 victory.
The Rebels were able to put together another decent effort. They fired 18 shots on net. The score was relativity close all the way through and they played a physical game; but in the end, the team with the most goals won. The Rebels were able to contain the Oil Kings’ high-flying offence on a number of different occasions throughout the game.
Zak Smith got the Rebels on the board with his second of the season in the first period. Josh Tarzwell scored his fifth in the second period. Those goals kept the Rebels alive, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.
This isn’t an ideal final result for the Rebels, but they are still playing decent hockey. It’s only a matter of time before fortunes start to turn their way.
The Oil Kings were strong once again. They played with a lot of flow and puck control, which correlated into dangerous chances and shots on goal in the offensive zone. Aside from a few defensive gaffs, the team fared well in both ends of the ice and got the job done. The team finished with 36 shots on net.
Ironically, the Oil Kings were the ones with the rotten puck luck in this game as they hit multiple goalposts.
Kaid Oliver opened the scoring with his fourth of the year at 11:02 of the first period.
Captain Scott Atkinson scored his third goal in three games for his club in the second period. Tyler Horstmann notched his second of the season to put the Oil Kings ahead 3-2. Ethan Cap closed out the second period with his first goal of the year to give his team a 4-2 lead and some insurance heading into the third.
“I think we have a really deep team this year so when you can roll all four lines it makes a huge difference, you’re not just double shifting the first two lines,” said forward Scott Atkinson. “All of our guys can play, so I think we can play with a pace consistently throughout the game and just roll lines.”
Josh Williams closed the curtain on this night, scoring his fifth of the season at 15:44 in the third period to make it 5-2. Williams continues to produce as he now has six points in his last three games.
Dylan Guenther returned to the lineup and picked up two assists.
Assistant Coach Luke Pierce was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I thought we showed a lot of maturity tonight. It wasn’t always clean and simple for us but I thought our third period we really controlled the pace of the game and found a way to bring it home,” said Pierce.
Three stars of the game
The first star of the game was Colby Knight of the Oil Kings. The rookie goaltender started between the pipes in his first WHL game and more than passed his first test as he made 16 saves on the night. He looked solid in the blue paint and played a key role in securing a win for his team. His first WHL win is a night to remember.
“It felt amazing out there. I know I was trying to just stay in the moment and not think about the end of the game, said Colby Knight. “But last night I literally dreamt about getting the winning puck at my first start, so it was a pretty happy moment once that final buzzer rang, I’ll say that.”
Assistant Coach Pierce also had a lot of high praise for the rookie netminder.
“Just look at the reaction of our team, you know? That tells you all you need to know about Knighter (Colby Knight), just a great kid and we’re all excited for him,” said Pierce. “I thought he played a real clean game, he looked very composed.”
The second star of the game was Scott Atkinson, who had another strong outing for Edmonton. The Oil Kings captain had a goal and an assist and was 13 for 22 in the face-off circle.
The third star of the game was Oil Kings forward Carter Souch. He had two assists.
Next up on the schedule for the Oil Kings is the Calgary Hitmen. The first of three games begin Friday, March 26 in Edmonton at the Downtown Community Rink at 7:00 PM MDT.