The Edmonton Oil Kings were looking for a win in their first game back home from their Saskatchewan road trip. The team sported Hockey Night in Canada inspired baby-blue blazer jerseys as part of the WHL Suits Up to promote organ donation campaign and played in front of a massive crowd of over 7,000 Oil Kings faithful.
Despite a valiant effort, the team dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in overtime to the Prince Albert Raiders after holding onto the lead for almost the entirety of the game. It quickly turned into a battle of the goaltenders, as it seemed as though no one would be able to score after the second period. However, the Raiders’ late-game perseverance led by Ozzy Wiesblatt lifted them over the top team in the WHL.
The Oil Kings have had a tough time closing out games in the third period as of late. This game marks three straight matches where the team has dropped a lead to force the game past regulation. Two of those resulted in losses.
“That’s three games in a row now, and elite teams don’t do that,” stated Josh Williams postgame on the team recently dropping three consecutive third-period leads.
“I think we are an elite team in this league, so we definitely have to clear that up.”
Although they have had trouble closing out tight games, it hasn’t been all bad for the Oil Kings. They collected points in all three games of their Saskatchewan road trip and are currently riding a seven-game point streak.
“We definitely left some points on the table, but every point counts in the season, and hopefully those points will help us later down the road,” Williams added.
Despite the recent struggles offensively, it didn’t appear like this would be a game that the Oil Kings would struggle so mightily to score in.
Early in the first period, Riley Sawchuk intercepted an attempted breakout pass by the Raiders that allowed him to find Dylan Guenther all alone in front of Max Paddock. The rookie sensation potted home his 17th goal of the season from point-blank range.
Many thought that goal opened the flood gates to what would be another high-octane offensive night for Edmonton. However, that was anything but the case as the newly acquired Paddock shut the door for the Raiders in net. The Oil Kings created a multitude of chances to extend their lead but instead were left continuing to ask how they can break through to create more offense.
“We haven’t scored a lot of goals lately. I think it’s been five goals in our last three games, so it’s definitely a thing we gotta work on and start putting more pucks on the net,” stated Williams, who sits tied for second on the team in goals with 16 on the season.
From there, it was the Ozzy Wiesblatt show, as the 2020 NHL draft-eligible forward put his team on his back, scoring two timely goals that led the Raiders to victory.
Wiesblatt’s goals were both products of his innate ability to track loose pucks.
His first came on the power play. The puck took multiple weird bounces that threw off Oil Kings goaltender Sebastian Cossa before Wiesblatt hammered in a rebound.
For the overtime winner, Wiesblatt was able to fight through two Oil Kings defensemen to the front of the net and batted down a rebound out of the air to beat Cossa.
It was a close battle between two of the top teams in the WHL featuring two stellar goaltending performances, with both teams’ goalies being selected in the three stars of the game.
This time, the defending WHL Champions took the match, but these teams will undoubtedly be each other’s biggest competitors throughout the season.
- Three stars: 1) Max Paddock 2) Sebastian Cossa 3) Dylan Guenther
- Power play: Oil Kings 0-for-3 | Raiders 1-for-2
- Shots: 28-24 in favor of the Oil Kings
- Riley Sawchuk went 15-6 in the faceoff circle
Edmonton will have another chance to find a breakthrough offensively as the team takes on the Medicine Hat Tigers this Sunday at 4:00 PM MST. The game should bring a spirited battle between two Central Division rivals and will feature two of the premier prospects for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft in Dylan Guenther and Cole Sillinger facing off head-to-head at Rogers Place.
You can get your tickets here.
Click Here to learn more about the WHL Suits Up to promote organ donation campaign and how you can contribute.