EDMONTON, ALTA. – It had been 13 days – 310:29 of hockey, or just over six games – since the Edmonton Oil Kings held a lead.
When they finally got one Saturday night, their first since Oct. 11 against the Regina Pats, it was short-lived.
Edmonton (3-7-2) allowed three goals in 2:04 in the third period as the Lethbridge Hurricanes (8-2-0-0) erased a 3-1 Oil Kings lead to score a 4-3 victory at Rexall Place and hand the Oil Kings their sixth loss in a row.
“It was a disheartening loss. I felt like we had a tremendous second period to give ourselves an opportunity like that, and the third period was a disappointment by everybody’s standards,” said Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton. “We didn’t handle success very well in the second, and that’s disappointing for our club.”
“It’s really frustrating. (The coaches) had a lot of good things to say after the second and we deserved that,” said Oil Kings captain Brandon Baddock. “And then we come out and we’re too high on ourselves and we let the emotions get the best of us and completely collapse away from the game plan and it destroys the game plan and ruins the game.”
Lethbridge took the lead 12:28 into the first period as Carter Folk threw a puck on net and Egor Babenko dove into the crease, pushing the puck and netminder Patrick Dea over the goal line. After a review, the goal was upheld for the Hurricanes.
Edmonton struck back with a monster second period, however, outshooting Lethbridge 21-4 in the frame and scoring three times.
Andrew Koep evened the game 3:40 into the second period, lifting a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of Hurricanes goalie Stuart Skinner from in close on the power play.
It was Chance Patterson who finally broke the ice for the Oil Kings, giving them their first lead in almost two weeks as the 18-year-old blueliner fired his first WHL goal in his 36th career game, a shot from the left point into the top right corner of the net. Colton Kehler added one just 17 seconds later for his second of the season just 17 seconds later and the Oil Kings took a 3-1 lead into the locker room.
“We chart battles won and lost in the game, and the second period was heavily favoured in our end, and then the complete opposite in the third period,” Hamilton said. “The hard things that needed to be done – the trench work, so to speak – didn’t get accomplished.”
That lead eroded quickly in the third as Babenko got his second of the night 5:26 into the frame on the power play on a nifty back-door feed from Arvin Atwal. 44 seconds later, Andrew Nielsen’s floater from the point found its way through traffic and netminder Patrick Dea, who never saw it, to tie the game up.
Another point shot through a crowd — this time a
power play marker from Atwal – would stand as the winner for the Hurricanes at the 7:30 mark of the third period. The Hurricanes power play finished 2-5 on the night, while the Oil Kings went 1-4.
“It’s time for these undisciplined penalties to stop. Obviously I was contributing to some of those at the start of the year. The message is if we’re going to take a penalty, it’s going to be a body check; it’s going to be a hard-working penalty. It’s not going to be a slash or a hook or a lazy penalty. We got back to that in the third and it cost us,” Baddock said.
Pollock finished with a pair of assists to run his scoring streak to seven games, while Lane Bauer picked up an assist to give him points in four straight. Patrick Dea made 22 saves in net for the Oil Kings.
Skinner made 38 saves for the victory for Lethbridge, while Atwal and Nielsen each had two points.
Edmonton will finish off this home stand Monday night against the Kootenay Ice at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.
“Keep working at it until we get it right. That’s what you have to do,” Hamilton said. “I think they understand what’s gone on here. You can make a million excuses, but we’re in a performance-based business and we’ve always held ourselves to a pretty high standard.
“There’s a level of disappointment, frustration, but nothing will change that, so we need to find ourselves in a situation now where we work to get it right. That’s my responsibility, that’s Ryan (Marsh’s), that’s everybody in the organization’s.”