(ISN) – EDMONTON, ALTA. – The Edmonton Oil Kings executed their game plan but still missed a key opportunity to gain ground on the Kootenay Ice Friday night in Cranbrook, B.C.
The Oil Kings (26-27-4-2) fell 4-1 to the Ice (30-27-1-1) but the team felt they deserved a better fate as it dropped four points behind the Ice for the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We had a distinct game plan we wanted to follow today and I thought the buy-in from our team was very good. That was a road game we wanted to execute; the results I don’t think indicated the quality of the game we played,” said Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton. “We certainly wanted to be very aggressive tonight. Their top six forwards and very, very skilled and they’ll work with whatever time and space you provide, and our goal was to try to limit that as much as we could.”
Edmonton opened the scoring midway through the first period as Luke Bertolucci broke down the right wing, cut to the middle and fired a shot that bounced off an Ice defenceman.
The Ice evened the game on the power play late in the second period as Levi Cable’s point shot through traffic beat Tristan Jarry.
Kootenay made it 2-1 7:10 into the third period, striking again on the power play as Luke Philp found Sam Reinhart with a backdoor pass on a four-on-three advantage.
“We took a couple penalties, and that was the game,” Hamilton said. “Unfortunately, it went that way.”
Philp added an insurance marker with 3:45 to play, and Reinhart had his second of the game into the empty net to round out the scoring.
Tristan Jarry finished with 23 saves for Edmonton, while Wyatt Hoflin stopped 46 shots in the Kootenay goal.
Ben Carroll ran his point streak to four games with an assist on Bertolucci’s goal.
Both Edmonton and Kootenay have 13 games left in the regular season to solidify their playoff spots.
“It was an important game for us, but it certainly isn’t the last important game we’ll play,” Hamilton said. “We’re down to the real stretch run here, and the importance of each game is magnified. I feel like our effort throughout the lineup tonight was more complete than it’s been in a while, and I have to believe if we keep stringing efforts like that together, we’ll get positive results.”
The Oil Kings are back in action Sunday afternoon at Rexall Place as they take on the Medicine Hat Tigers at 1 p.m. for Pink at the Rink, presented by Goodlife Fitness. The Oil Kings will wear one-of-a-kind pink jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game, with the proceeds going to support cancer charities in the Edmonton area.