Slow Starts Becoming ‘Chronic’ for Oil Kings

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EDMONTON, ALTA. – Another slow start plagued the Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday as they fell 3-2 to the Moose Jaw Warriors at Rexall Place.

The Oil Kings (3-6-1-0) went over seven minutes without registering a shot while allowing 11 and once again trailed early in the game as they dropped their fourth in a row.

“It was a really, really flat start. It’s become chronic at this point and really concerning,” said Oil Kings head coach As a coaching staff … you do what you can to give them a bump of energy, but ultimately the responsibilities falls on the players and our leadership group, and I think we’ve fallen short in the way we approach the game.

“It has to become an area of strength because it’s our Achilles heel right now, and we have to work on it to the point where we can count on a good start every night.”

“That’s a problem we’re having right now,” agreed Oil Kings captain Brandon Baddock. “I think we need to play every period like it’s our third. You look at that third period, we have desperation. Everyone’s finishing their checks, we’re turning pucks over and we’re getting them to the net. The start has to come from within the room. We have to build the energy within the room and it has to start soon.”

Dryden Hunt scored just 4:35 into the game for Moose Jaw (6-1-1-1), making a nice deke move to get to the net and another to get Oil Kings netminder Patrick Dea down before firing it past him.

The Oil Kings got back in it at the 12 minute mark as Tyler Robertson pinballed a shot off Moose Jaw goalie Zach Sawchenko and into the back of the net to even the score.

In the second, Moose Jaw’s top unit struck again and Hunt created a scramble in front of the Oil Kings net and a clearing attempt put the puck right on the stick of Mark McNulty, who had an open net to shoot on to put the Warriors up 2-1.

Just 2:27 later, Hunt found Nikita Popugaev leaving the penalty box, creating a two-on-one opportunity. The Russian winger fed Brayden Point who beat Dea one-on-one to round of the Warriors scoring.

“They’re highly skilled. We can’t afford to give up time and space against them, and we certainly didn’t engage anybody — not just them; we didn’t engage anyone enough tonight,” Hamilton said. “We have some limitations as a team offensively, and we better be prepared to make up for those limitations in other areas, and if we don’t, we’re always going to fall a little short.”

Andrew Koep scored for the Oil Kings with 11.3 seconds left in regulation to cut the lead to one, but Edmonton wouldn’t get any closer. Koep finished with two points on the night, while Brett Pollock ran his point streak to five games with an assist on Robertson’s goal. Dea finished with 25 saves in a losing effort.

Sawchenko stopped 29 shots to get the win for Moose Jaw, while Hunt had three points and Point and McNulty each had two.

Edmonton will look to end their four-game losing skid Tuesday when they host the Saskatoon Blades at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.

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