EDMONTON, ALTA. – A pair of late goals sunk the Edmonton Oil Kings Sunday night as they fell 3-2 in overtime to the Red Deer Rebels.
With the Oil Kings (0-1-1-0) leading 2-1 over Red Deer (2-0-0-0) late in the third, Edmonton forward Andrew Koep was whistled for a hooking penalty with 37 seconds to play, and on the ensuing power play, Michael Spacek fed Ivan Nikolishin at the side of the goal to tie the game for Red Deer with 20 seconds left.
“100 per cent they need to be more disciplined, especially in the last minute of a 2-1 hockey game,” said Hamilton, whose team surrendered eight power plays to the Rebels, including two in the final six minutes while protecting that one-goal lead.
In the three-on-three period, it was Spacek again, beating goaltender Patrick Dea in the top corner on a two-on-one chance to give Red Deer the win and spoil the Oil Kings’ home opener in front of 7,216 fans.
The Oil Kings came out cold, outshot by Red Deer 19-4 in the first period, but were kept in the game by the heroics of Dea, who stopped all 19 of those shots, including a penalty shot for Wyatt Johnson.
“At least our guys recognized that the way we were going, we couldn’t sustain that. It was just a shooting fest on Patrick,” said Oil Kings head coach. “We found a little bit of game in the second half and found ourselves with a lead, so there’s some positives.”
The Oil Kings found more jump in the second period, though it was Red Deer who struck first as Colton Bobyk’s point shot on the power play was mostly blocked by Lane Bauer, fluttering high in the air and over a crowd in the Oil Kings crease, including Dea.
The goal seemed to wake up Edmonton, as Bauer put the Oil Kings on the board less than three minutes later. Bauer took a pass on the right wall from Brett Pollock, dipsy-doodled around a Red Deer defender and chipped a shot past Rebels netminder Rylan Toth.
“We could have easily just rolled over after the first, but the guys battled back hard and we had a real good second and third period,” Dea said.
The score stayed 1-1 to the 9:40 mark of the third period when Tyler Robertson gave the Oil Kings the lead as he spun around in the slot and hammered a slap shot past Toth.
Dea finished with a career-high 39 saves in a losing effort as the Oil Kings were outshot 42-23. Toth had 18 saves to get the win for Red Deer, while Trevor Martin made three saves in 3:42 of playing time spelling Toth in the middle of the second period.
“[Dea was] awesome. He was our best player,” Hamilton said.
Red Deer finished 2-8 with the man advantage, while the Oil Kings were 0-3 on the power play.
Edmonton will be back in action Friday night when the defending WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets come to town. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.