RED DEER, ALTA. – The 2016-17 season started with a lot of jump and sizzle and ended with a bang. The Edmonton Oil Kings’ new captain Aaron Irving scored in OT sending his team home with the 3-2 win Friday night at the Enmax Centrium.
Tyler Robertson and Kyle Yewchuk had the other Oil Kings goals and Patrick Dea stopped 24 of 26 shots in the win.
“We talked after the second period, which was very average, we talked about the third period needing to be better,” said head coach Steve Hamilton. “We had spent a good portion of the first half of the game playing in front of them and we just needed to play behind them and get some pressure on their defencemen. We did a much better job of swarming the puck.”
The Rebels opened the scoring sneaking in on a 2-on-1 with Akash Bains tucking one behind a sprawling Dea 3:31 into the game. Newly named alternate captain Tyler Robertson tied things up as he took a beautiful Jesse Roach pass and had the whole net to deposit it into. Ethan Cap drew the second assist; his first career WHL point. The Rebels got a lucky one late in the first frame. After Dea made a stop the puck laid at his pad in the crease and Evan Polei jammed it home sending the Oil Kings to the locker room down 2-1 after 20 minutes.
The second period was rather uneventful for the Oil Kings as they managed just two shots…both coming in the final couple minutes. They did, however, play soundly in front of Dea blocking a few shots and clearing any rebounds.
In the third Edmonton had a glorious opportunity given to them to tie the game in the form of a 4-on-3 powerplay. Davis Koch took an Aaron Irving pass down low and was robbed by Rebels netminder Riley Lamb on what looked like a sure-thing. Lamb looked to shut the door from there also stopping Lane Bauer on a breakaway and Adam Berg in close but the Oil Kings would not be denied as unlikely hero Kyle Yewchuk picked a great time to score his first ever WHL goal batting in a rebound with 2:33 left sending the game to overtime.
“Maybe not the guy at the start of the game you would think would be in on the game-tying goal,” laughed Hamilton. “But great to see and a big boost of confidence for him.”
“The puck came to Will (Warm) and he missed the net,” said Yewchuk. “Then there was a battle and it was loose. Kehler shot it and I batted it out of the air and it was such a great way to experience my first goal and will be one I remember for sure.”
Irving ended the comeback when he accepted a Davis Koch pass in tight and buried it past Lamb for the win.
“It was such a nice passing play by Lane (Bauer) and Davis (Koch),” said Irving. “Once I got that pass I went five-hole because I am not a man with a lot of moves so may as well try it and it went in.”
The two teams will square off again tomorrow night but in a much different atmosphere. The 7pm game will be played at Rogers Place – the first ever hockey game to take place in the spectacular new arena – in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,102.