A lot has happened since the last time Oil Kings fans have seen their team play at home. The Oil Kings return to Rogers Place after a lengthy B.C road trip that saw the team finish with a record of 2-2-1 and drop from their number one spot in the WHL. The team was hoping that a return back home can help spark some of the winning momentum that had them roll into the top spot in the league earlier in the season. However, it wouldn’t prove to be an easy first match back at home for the Oil Kings, as they welcomed bitter rivals, the Calgary Hitmen, who were riding a six-game point streak. Losing only one game throughout that stretch.
The Hitmen found the net first, with Josh Prokop patiently coming down on a 2-on-1 and passing it through the seam of the Oil Kings defender for an easy tap-in goal by Orca Wiesblatt past Edmonton goalie Sebastian Cossa.
Riley Stotts then added to the Hitmen’s early lead as picked up the puck in the neutral zone and drove to the net with force, rifling a shot past Cossa as he held back an Oil Kings defencemen.
The shots were even after the first frame, with both teams generating a number of quality chances. However, the Oil Kings weren’t able to capitalize and the Hitmen made the team pay for giving up 2-on-1 opportunities.
The Oil Kings began their fight back into the game in the second period, beginning with Jalen Luypen who was able to sneak past Calgary’s defense before receiving a feed from Riley Sawchuk to add his fourth goal of the season.
Just seconds later, Carter Souch carried the puck into the offensive and was able to find a wide-open Loeden Schaufler, who put home his second goal as an Oil King and brought the score back to even.
As the momentum was seamlessly starting to look as though it was turning in the Oil Kings favour, it was brought to a sudden halt. A a bad defensive zone turnover behind the Oil Kings net allowed for Adam Kydd to walk in all alone on Cossa, and he made no mistake to bring back the Hitmen’s lead.
A late-period power play gave the Oil Kings an opportunity to pile up the pressure before heading into the final frame, and eventually, it became too much for Brayden Peters to handle as David Kope jumped on a rebound in front to once again bring the game back to a deadlock at 3-3.
The Oil Kings started the third period with what seemed to be a prime scoring opportunity. However, the only thing that found the back of the net was Carter Souch, who was tripped up on route to driving to the crease and sent the net flying off its moorings.
A scary moment then ensued for the Calgary Hitmen, as defensemen Luke Prokop and Jackson van de Leest collided in center ice, leaving Prokop down on the ice for a notable amount of time. He would eventually get up under his own will and skated back to the Hitmen’s bench.
Vladimir Alistrov then turned on the jets for Edmonton, breaking in with speed after picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone. He then got Peters to bite on a subtle fake shot before wrapping it around the net. Peters was able to make the original stop with his paddle but the second effort by Alistrov jammed the puck into the net, giving the Oil Kings their first lead of the night.
From there it was the Souch and Williams show, as Souch stripped the Hitmen’s defender in the neutral zone before coming in on the attack with Josh Williams. Nobody was expecting what happened next as Souch delivered a beautiful spin-o-rama pass to Williams who sends a laser of a shot past Peters for a sensational goal.
“You gotta expect everything with Souch,” explained Williams on the chemistry built between the two forwards, “he’s a great passer and he put it right on my tape and I was lucky enough to put it in.”
The Hitmen made one last push to gain back the lead they held onto for the majority of the night. Carson Focht scored on what seemed to be an innocent play from the tops of the circle that found its way through traffic and past Cossa to bring the game within one goal with just minutes remaining. However the Oil Kings were able to hold off the Hitmen, finishing with a 5-4 victory in their first game back at home since the B.C road trip.
“We’re confident that we’re going to get the win,” said Souch on the feeling on the bench when Calgary scored late to bring the game within one, “We’ve got it done lots and I think everybody just trusts what we’re doing on the ice. Especially when there’s eight minutes left and we have a one goal lead to just keep things simple.”
The win was huge for the Oil Kings returning to home ice from a long B.C road trip that didn’t quite go as planned and provided the team with plenty of learning experiences to build of off moving forward in the season.
“We take a divisional game, those are four points games” stated Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer on the importance of tonights victory.
“There’s a rivalry there and its always nice to get that first one coming home.”
- The three stars tonight were 1) Carter Souch 2) Josh Williams 3) Orca Wiesblatt
- Shots finished with a tally of 33-23 in favour of the Oil Kings
- Souch recorded a game-high six shots on net
- Oil Kings PP went 1-for-4, with the Hitmen going 0-for-1 on the man advantage