About 72 hours ago 25 young men sat in their stalls wondering if it was all just a bad dream. They had squandered a 4-3 lead late against the Medicine Hat Tigers and lost 5-4 in the dying moments.
Tonight, however, those same young men learned from that heartbreak and rose to the challenge collectively as they beat the Saskatoon Blades 5-2 in a critical game in the chase for the last wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
Number 16, Davis Koch, led the way with his 7th and 8th on the year and Andrew Koep (11), Lane Bauer (28) and Brett Pollock (26) had the other Oil King goals. Patrick Dea was razor sharp stopping 23 of 25 shots, including a key breakaway save late in the second. He is now 18-19-3-1 this season.
“It was one of those games where we traded chances a little bit,” said Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton. “There was a couple of moments where we left some guys behind us in coverage and that was dangerous. Patty (Dea) made a key breakaway save which was really important. All in all it was an important win. That was a hard working team.”
Despite getting down 1-0 in the first five minutes the Oil Kings took over from there as Koch scored on the powerplay and Koep while at even-strength.
In the middle frame the officials decided to call Tyler Robertson on what can only be described as a very marginal trip at best. On the ensuing powerplay the Blades would capitalize tying things at two. However, Koch gave the team a huge lift with just 28 seconds left as he drove hard to the net – something Hamilton and his staff preach a lot – and deflected one over Saskatoon’s goalie Brock Hamm.
“I felt pretty good,” said Koch. “Goals this year for me have been pretty hard to come by so it’s nice to get two in one game and hopefully build towards the playoffs. I think we responded well from Friday. We just couldn’t close it out and then today we came back with the same game plan; be hard on the puck and close them off.”
Bauer scored the insurance marker half way through the third on the PP and Pollock put the icing on the cake a minute later sealing the win. The newly acquired Calgary Flames prospect also chipped in with a pair of assists and now has 71 points (26G, 45A) in 66 games and leads the team with a +24 rating.
The Oil Kings are now 28-31-6-1 with 63 points, which puts them six ahead of the Tigers and nine ahead of the Blades for the final wild card spot. Up next is a tough challenge…yet another three games in three nights. Friday is Fan Appreciation Night here at Rexall Place vs Calgary Hitmen (7pm). Saturday (7pm) is in Calgary and Sunday (6pm) is in Lethbridge.