EDMONTON, ALTA. – The Edmonton Oil Kings found themselves down two to the Regina Pats in the first 2:49 Friday night and never recovered as they fell to the visiting Pats 4-2 at Rexall Place.
Regina scored twice on their first four shots of the game as Rykr Cole grabbed a loose puck that hit a linesman at the Oil Kings blue line and put the Pats up 1-0 just 28 seconds into the game. 2:21 later, Brady Pouteau poked a loose puck past Oil Kings starting netminder Alec Dillon, ending his night after just four shots and 2:49 of game action.
“It’s kind of been a theme for us: we dig ourselves a hole and do a decent job of climbing out of it, but when you play teams like this, it’s tough to get out of that hole,” said Oil Kings winger Colton Kehler. “It’s hard to put your finger on it – something in our preparation I guess. Guys need to be ready to go, sharp.”
Patrick Dea stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced in relief of Dillon, allowing just a second-period goal to Austin Wagner on a top-shelf shot on a two-on-one.
“I give full marks to Patty for holding the fort, giving us a chance to try to work our way back in,” said Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton.
“I really liked our third period, I thought we were urgent … and that’s kind of been our M.O. We’ve got to turn the corner as a group. That was the message to our guys … It’s important when they see themselves turning the corner, that we see daylight and not oncoming traffic. That’s all a mindset; that’s all a positivity thing.”
Dario Meyer and Kehler had power play goals for the Oil Kings, who won the special teams battle going 2-5 with the man advantage and 4-4 on the penalty kill, but Edmonton couldn’t muster enough offence to overcome the early hole as they cut the Regina lead to 2-1 and 3-2, but could never find an equalizer.
“We’re a team that has our challenges at times offensively, so it just paints an unnecessarily dark picture for our guys when you get down 2-0 on four shots. That was tough,” Hamilton said.
“Plus-2 (on special teams) should be a difference maker in the game. It speaks to our slow start that it wasn’t enough to get it done.”
Kehler’s goal was the first of his WHL career, while Anatolii Elizarov picked up his first WHL point with an assist on the play. Brett Pollock ran his point streak to four games with a helper on Meyer’s goal.
Sam Steel added an empty netter for Regina and the Pats got a 41-save performance from Tyler Brown for the victory as the Oil Kings outshot the Pats 43-31.
The Oil Kings are back in action Saturday night at Rexall Place as they host the Moose Jaw Warriors at 7 p.m.