Sept 21,2014(ISN) – EDMONTON, ALTA. – On a night they celebrated the past, the Edmonton Oil Kings showed a glimpse of the future.
17-year-old centre Andrew Koep scored a pair of goals in his first WHL game and 17-year-old netminder Patrick Dea made 18 saves for his first WHL win in his first WHL start as the Oil Kings thrilled the largest home-opening crowd in franchise history with a 4-2 win Saturday over the Kootenay Ice.
“We just asked for our guys to answer the bell tonight,” said Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton. “That was by far and away our best effort, preseason included. We really rose to the moment and that was important.”
Cole Benson and Tyler Robertson each had a goal and an assist, while Luke Bertolucci chipped in with a pair of helpers. Garan Magnes, 17, also picked up an assist for his first career WHL point.
“We say a side of some players that we’ve never really seen before. There were some really good efforts all around,” Hamilton said.
Alexander Chirva opened the scoring for Kootenay with a power-play goal 7:34 into the game, but Benson answered his first of the season with five minutes to play in the first period.
Koep notched his first WHL goal late in the second, but Kootenay answered right back with a seeing-eye shot off a broken stick from Bryan Allbee that somehow found its way past Dea.
In the third, the Ice turned up the pressure, rifling 12 shots on Dea after managing only eight in the first two periods, but the rookie netminder recovered, making numerous saves to keep the Ice from going ahead, and setting the stage for Koep to score the winner with just under four minutes to play.
“Good to see him rebound like that and come out and show confidence and keep us in the third period,” said Ashton Sautner, who served as the team’s captain for the game.
Wyatt Hoflin made 32 saves in a losing cause for the Ice.
11,024 turned up to watch the Oil Kings raise the 2013-14 Memorial Cup and Ed Chynoweth banners to the rafters at Rexall Place, and looked on as alumni from 1950, 1963, 1966 and 2014 helped get the season off to a raucous start, with Mitch Moroz and Reid Petryk showing off the hardware to a deafening roar.
“It’s an unbelievable honour to start in a game like that,” Dea said. “It’s was a pretty cool experience; the crowd gave me a little roar.”
“It was pretty tough to be out there and try to keep in the tears,” admitted Sautner. “Every home opener is exciting … but today, with us winning last year and having both trophies in the building, it was an emotional ceremony for me.”