The Edmonton Oil Kings did not start off the 2009-10 season the way they had hoped but instead suffered a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Hitmen.
The Oil Kings actually took it to the visitors throughout the first period and certainly looked like a team that was ready to take the league by storm. On the other side of the coin, the Hitmen were awful in the opening 20 minutes; horrible in their own end, virtually no offensive chances and they looked very sluggish.
Edmonton got things started with a goal 4:01 into the game when a pass was redirected behind Martin Jones (LA) and into the Calgary net. Tomas Vincour (DAL) got credit for the goal even though is intended cross-crease pass to Dylan Wruck was tipped in by a sliding Brandon Kozun (LA).
The Oil Kings top line of Vincour (RW), Brent Raedeke (C) and Wruck (LW) was terrific in the opening frame and provided the team with most of their best scoring chances on the night.
Ben Wilson evened the score for Calgary in the second period and that's how it would stay until the final six minutes of the game.
The Hitmen took their first lead of the night when sudden sniper Tyler Fiddler scored his fourth goal in two nights - he only notched three all last year. The lead was short lived though as Brent Raedeke (DET) suprised Jones with a long wrist shot that beat him high on the glove side. However, the tie didn't last long either and was broken by Ian Schultz (STL) who scored a weak one on Torrie Jung.
Schultz's eventual game winner was only followed by an empty netter from Kozun.
The host side held the lead in shots on net for most of the game. The tally was 12-5 in the first period and then 10-8 for Calgary in the second. In the end the two clubs both recorded 25 shots on goal.
It got a little bit scary for the Hitmen in the third period when not one, not two but three players went down to serious looking injury and all within the span of about a minute. forward MacKenzie Royer was beaned in the face by a teammate's clearing shot... from about 5 feet away. The Ian Schultz was helped off the ice after being low-bridged by Adrian Van de Mosselaer. Finally Cody Gross took a point blast in a tender spot while standing in front of the net.
The injuries seemed to have a positive effect on the Hitmen who rallied to take the win, Schultz scoring after returning from his own minor injury.
After the game I spoke with new Hitmen Head Coach Mike Williamson (now 2-0) as well as Ian Schultz. You can hear those post game interviews by clicking on their names in the sentence above.
On the home side, I also chatted with head coach Steve Pleau, netminder Torrie Jung, forward Brent Raedeke and new captain Rhett Rachinski. You can hear all of those post game comments by clicking on their respective names as well.
As I told both coach Pleau and Torrie Jung afterwards, I wonder if the goalie is a bit rusty. Jung never played a single pre-season game for the Oil Kings because he was waiting for rookie camp with the Edmonton Oilers. Yet he also didn't dress for a game with the NHL club so the regular season opener was Jung's first game of the year. He played very well but would definitely like that 3rd goal back - a shot that beat him through the 5-hole. Both Coach Pleau and Jung answered that question.
Edmonton's next game is a road game in Kootenay to play the Ice on September 23rd. Calgary returns to action on next Friday in Medicine Hat against the Tigers.
Royal Tidbits: 20-year-old Garret Thiessen has found work with the Prince George Cougars and not with the BCHL club in the same town. In exchange for the veteran blueliner, the Oil Kings will get a very late draft pick - like a 12th or 13th. Last draft Edmonton stopped making picks in the 10th round so this is basically a deal just so that a good kid can join a club that needs him, at least for a while...
Rhett Rachinski was named the team captain on Friday. #22 Tomas Vincour, #9 Brent Raedeke and #29 Brett Breitkreuz were all given Alternate Captain 'A's...
Not a real surprise but Keegan Lowe has opted to wear the same number 4 that his father wore as an Edmonton Oiler defenceman during his NHL career...
during the TEAM 1260 pregame show with A.J. Jakubec and Kent Simpson, I went on record prediciting a 5th place Eastern Conference finish for Edmonton (a bit pie-in-the-sky), Torrie Jung as team MVP and that T.J. Foster was my breakout player of the year with 20 goals...
(Photos Courtesy: Edmonton Oil Kings, Andy Devlin, WHL)