ST. ALBERT, ALTA. – It wasn’t the start the Edmonton Oil Kings wanted.
The Oil Kings were sluggish off the opening puck drop Saturday night at Servus Place and found themselves down 4-0 just 8:31 into the game en route to a 6-1 loss to the Calgary Hitmen in Western Hockey League preseason action.
“Not being ready to play is probably the answer. They came out and were very physical and in our face, and we just weren’t sharp. We weren’t prepared for that,” admitted Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton.
“Lesson learned. Hard lesson learned. The game was over before it ever really started.”
Andrew Fyten, Michael Zipp and Colby Harmsworth all scored from the point through traffic to give Calgary a 3-0 lead early and Carsen Twarynski converted on a breakaway chance to give the Hitmen the lead they would never look back on.
“Our back end struggled,” Hamilton said. “It was a really young group tonight – as young as we could possibly be – and it showed. … That’s why you put them in in exhibition season. We’ve got to see where guys are at. To put all those young guys in at once was a lot to handle, and Calgary was ready to go.”
Lane Bauer scored the lone Edmonton goal, a power-play marker with 3:12 left in the game, and Hamilton noted that on an off night for the team, the veteran centre stood out.
“I thought that there were some guys who were trying to bring it and trying to bring energy, and that was good,” Hamilton said. “I liked Bauer’s game tonight; I thought he was involved and trying to get some things going. Davis Koch did some good things up front.”
Terrell Draude and Layne Bensmiller also scored for Calgary, as the Hitmen improved to 4-0 in preseason play. The Oil Kings dropped to 2-1.
Patrick Dea allowed five goals on 14 shots while getting the start in the Oil Kings goal, while freshly signed 16-year-old Liam Hughes stopped seven of eight shots he faced after coming on for the third period.
Kyle Dumba made 24 saves to get the win for Calgary.
The two teams will be back in action Sunday afternoon for a 3 p.m. start at the Saddledome in Calgary.
“We need to be prepared at puck drop,” Hamilton said. “We’ll sprinkle in a little more of a veteran presence, that’ll help. There needs to be a better level of preparedness on their part and understanding that on a short turnaround like this, we go down there and be ready.”