The Edmonton Oil Kings needed just a single point in Red Deer on Saturday night but came up short making Sunday's rematch the biggest game in franchise history.
The Prince Albert Raiders gave up a late goal in Saskatoon and dropped their final regular season game in regulation time so are stuck with 67 points... actively cheering the Rebels on Sunday.
Edmonton was lethargic through 40 minutes at the Centrium before coming alive in the final period but couldn't erase the 3-1 deficit in time. A Criag McCallum crossbar in the second period and a goal mouth scramble with the puck on the goal line in the third were close but not good enough.
I sat two chairs away from GM Bob Green all night who flip flopped on a regular basis between wanting and not wanting to hear the out of town score from Saskatoon. When the 5-4 Blades final came across the wire his team was still down 3-2. When head coach Steve Pleau called a time out with about 2:15 to play I asked the GM if he'd ever consider letting the bench know that P.A. had lost.
Bryn Griffiths and I agreed that we would, believing that it would give the boys on the bench an extra boost to know that they were a goal away from making the playoffs. Green wasn't sold on our logic, said he wouldn't do it although I wouldn't say he sounded adamant about his position.
After the game I threw the same question at coach Pleau, whether he'd ever consider using the out of town scoreboard as motivation for his team. His answer to that question as well as to the rest of the media's queries can be heard HERE.
The Oil Kings host the Rebels at Rexall Place on Sunday afternoon, game time is 2:00 with a special extended pre-game show planned on the TEAM 1260 ahead of time.
One point is all that seperates the Oil Kings from their first appearance in the WHL playoffs so they could win in regulation, win or lose in overtime or the shootout and secure their date with the Calgary Hitmen. The worst case scenario is a regulation time loss which would set up a single game playoff against the Raiders, in Prince Albert, on Tuesday night.
Bob Green, Steve Pleau and a lockeroom full of teenagers are hoping it doesn't come down to that.
- Edmonton forward Tomas Vincour is day-to-day with "an upper body injury". He did not play in Red Deer and was replaced by 15-year-old Travis Ewanyk, a 3rd round 2008 Bantam draft pick.
- The Oil Kings will be wearing different jerseys tomorrow. A minor hockey team in Sherwood Park won the season long contest of purchasing the most tickets so the 'Dub club will be decked out in their duds, albeit a slightly larger size.
- If you are just now considering going to the game, get there early because at last count over 11,000 tickets have already been sold and with the final game having this much meaning you can be sure of a massive walk up crowd.
- I try and get down to the Centrium in Red Deer for 5 or 6 games every year but for whatever reason, this was my first this year. Brent Sutter has fixed the place up in style adding a terrific new scoreboard with screens and the pressbox has also been given a complete overhaul. Big Kudos and thanks to Cam Moon for the tour.