Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hitmen hand Oil KIngs their first loss of the season

After having little trouble in their opening three games of the 2012-2013 campaign, the Edmonton Oil Kings finally met their match, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night at Rexall Place.  Brooks Macek led the way upfront with a pair of assists, while goaltender Chris Driedger stopped thirty-four of the thirty-five shots fired his way, improving Calgary's record to a perfect 3-0 and pushing them past the Oil Kings into first place in the WHL's Central Division. 

Edmonton had made a habit of scoring early in their previous three outings but this one would be different, as the visitors would jump out to the early lead. Pavlo Padakin would pickup a loose puck, just outside the Oil Kings blueline and make his way, untouched, to the front of the Edmonton net, before beating Laurent Brossoit with a nifty little backhand, just before the six minute mark.

This was uncharted territory for defending Western Hockey League champs, as they had yet to trail in any of their three games. After holding Edmonton off the scoreboard in the first, Calgary would stretch their lead to a pair, early in period two.

With only seconds remaining in defenceman  Aaron Irving's elbowing minor, Brooks Macek would pick up his first point of the night, thanks to a little hard work and a timely finish from Greg Chase. Macek drove hard to Oil Kings net, forcing  Brossoit to stop his initial shot on goal but Chase was in the right place and the right time, depositing the rebound behind the startled Edmonton tender, to make it a two goal bulge.

It could've have been worse, as Brossoit absolutely stoned Brady Brassart with a brilliant pad save on a two-on-one break, to keep the deficit at two. That seemed to give the Oil Kings some life, as T.J. Foster would score for the second straight game, to cut the lead in half. Foster drove down the left-side, before beating Driedger high on the short side, with a perfectly placed shot, for his second on the season.

Suddenly, Edmonton had the momentum heading into the dressing room for the intermission but Calgary wasted little time restoring their two goal cushion in the third. Brassart would atone for his early missed opportunity, sliding home a rebound under Brossoit, at the twenty-eight second mark, to make it a 3-1 game...taking out whatever wind was left in the Oil Kings sail.

Carson Samoridny would ice it, with an empty netter late in third, to make it a 4-1 final. Give Calgary credit, as they played a very simple road game and waited for Edmonton to make mistakes and pounced when they were given the opportunity.

In fairness to the Oil Kings, at some point...this loss was coming. After winning fourteen consecutive regular season contests, dating back to their 11-0 run to closeout the 2011-2012 campaign, it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately for them, it came at the hands of their division and provincial rival.

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