On the opening weekend of the WHL season, it was Scott Atkinson who wore the captain’s “C” for the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The team announced on Friday that Atkinson had been chosen to captain the 2019-20 Oil Kings, making him the 13th captain in modern franchise history. He replaces Oil Kings hero Trey Fix-Wolansky, who is now with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Atkinson when asked about his initial thoughts. “I didn’t expect it to happen along with all the emotions that came with it.”
Atkinson is heading into his third full year with the Oil Kings, after they selected him with their 99th overall pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. Since then, the 2000-born forward has appeared in 117 games for the organization, scoring 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) during that time.
Joining him as part of the leadership group are Ethan Cap, Conner McDonald, Matthew Robertson, and Wyatt McLeod. The four of them were all assistant captains for Edmonton in 2019 too.
“I liked what they (the assistant captains) did last season, and it didn’t seem necessary to change that”, said head coach Brad Lauer about his leadership group. “Scott does everything you need a captain to do. He’s one of those guys the others like follow on and off the ice.”
“I am quiet when I need to be, but if something needs to be said, I’ll speak up and get the guys going,” Atkinson answered, when asked what kind of leader he was. “I try to lead by example and let the guys feed off that.”
Well, he certainly did that on Saturday night on the road versus the Red Deer Rebels. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native led the offensive charge with two goals at vital times for his team. The first goal was Edmonton’s first goal of the 2020 season and also tied the game up at 1-1 on the power play. His second came early in the second period, which helped give them a 3-1 lead and swayed the game into the Oil Kings’ favour.
On Sunday afternoon, the Oil Kings fans were sent home happy with a 4-1 win over the Rebels in their home opener. Atkinson wasn’t on the scoresheet, but the Oil Kings did get goals from a couple of newcomers in Riley Sawchuk (two) and rookie Jesse Seppala. Liam Keeler also got his goal-scoring tally started with five minutes to play in the second period.
“There’s good and bad, but the outcome is exactly what we wanted to accomplish this weekend,” said head coach Brad Lauer. “It’s still early in the season, and we’ve got things to work on, but it’s a good start.”
The Oil Kings are back on the ice on Friday night against the Calgary Hitmen on the road.