January 26, 2014, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – The Edmonton Oil Kings really wanted first place, and that’s exactly what they got.
The Oil Kings (33-13-0-1) got off to a hot start and rolled right over the Calgary Hitmen (31-12-2-3) to take over top spot in the WHL Eastern Conference with a 7-3 win Saturday night in front of 9,900 fans at Rexall Place.
“We had it marked,” said Oil Kings forward Riley Kieser, who had a goal and two assists. “With them being our big rival, we had them marked in our calendars getting ready for it.”
Edmonton opened the game with four quick shots before Reid Petryk was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct in his 300th career WHL game. The Oil Kings killed the penalty, allowing just a pair of shots, and momentum seemed to flow from there, according to head coach Derek Laxdal.
“We killed off nine minutes of penalties in the first period, and then I thought we gained some traction,” he said. “Give our kids credit: I thought we played hard. I thought we had a solid 60 minutes.”
“You have to get that big kill early in the game, just to set the tone. It gave us a lot of energy and we scored right after it.”
The Oil Kings took control for the rest of the period, outshooting Calgary 19-6 in the frame as Brett Pollock opened the scoring and Tyler Robertson added his first career WHL goal before the first was over.
The Oil Kings built on that lead early in the second, taking control with three goals under three minutes apart in the first 4:12 of the period. Pollock finished with a pair of goals, while Curtis Lazar had a goal and an assist. Griffin Reinhart and Brandon Baddock also scored for Edmonton, while Henrik Samuelsson had a pair of assists, including the 100th of his WHL career.
The win, in front of Edmonton’s second biggest crowd of the season thus far, leaves Edmonton and Calgary tied with 67 points atop the conference. The Oil Kings hold the tiebreaker with more wins and also have a game in hand.
The Hitmen won’t have to wait long for a chance to exact some revenge, however, as the two teams get back at it Sunday afternoon in Calgary. The Oil Kings expect a strong push back from Calgary in their home rink.
“With us chasing and now we’re tied, that was a big game, and tomorrow’s going to be an even bigger one,” Kieser said.
“They’re going to try and make a statement tomorrow, so we’ve got to come back and push again.”