The reigning Memorial Cup champions, the Edmonton Oil Kings packed the house at Rexall Place with a record breaking 11,024 in attendance, the most ever recorded for a home opener. Led by a handful of veterans, and a new WHL head coach the Oil Kings opened their 2014-15 season with a 4-2 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice.
On the eve of yet another Oilers' shutout loss, and only one day removed from the Oilers allowing the worst goal of the day (Thursday), let's have a look at the other oil in town and Edmonton Oilers' draft pick Mitch Moroz. We'll talk about Devan Dubnyk and the net situation tomorrow.
The Edmonton Oil Kings can add another checkmark to their season. This year's teddy bear toss was on a Friday night in the blistering cold in Edmonton, -30 C or -22 F and that's before the wind chill, but the hockey faithful braved the weather and bundled up to support the home team and raise some money and donations for the 630 Santa's Anonymous charity. When the final count came in, 10,128 teddy bears of various shapes and sizes were thrown to the ice. According to the Oil Kings, this was the first time in Oil Kings' history that the team collected more bears than there were fans in the stands. To add to those totals, during the jersey auctions and raffles held at the game, $19, 675 were raised for children in need throughout the city.
The hockey world was shocked by the passing of young Latvian, and Oilers' prospect Kristians Pelss. Shocking, heartbreaking and tragic, the loss of Pelss touched upon the heart strings of anyone who heard the story. While we may never know what happened last Monday in Latvia, we do know that the friends and family of Pelss will never forget, will never completely be able to move on. And for them, we mourn.
For nearly every team in the WHL, the season ended just a game or two too soon. For the Edmonton Oil Kings, last year’s WHL champs, this especially rang true. The Oil Kings knew what it takes to get to the Memorial Cup, they had finished out their season there last year. And for many of the players on the roster, these were their final games of their junior careers.
The Edmonton Oilers need help on their blueline. And not soon, but now. While draft picks alone cannot remedy the situation, the team has been aware of the gaping holes in their depth and roster while making their selections on draft day year after year.
While defencemen tend to take longer to develop and to prepare themselves physically those who have been in the system for a few years, are inching their way closer to making an impact. The defenceman most recently added to the list is 6’5” 191 lb Slovakian Martin Gernat.
Few thought that this would be an easy challenge for the Oil Kings, but most thought that the Hitmen would have been knocked out by now. Instead, it’s a game 7 showdown, winner takes all in Edmonton Tuesday night. To the victor, the opportunity to limp into the WHL finals against the Portland Winterhawks. And the loser, an early summer. Somehow neither opportunity sounds all that pleasant.
The NHL season is not yet over, but it is for the Calgary Flames. If you needed any confirmation of that fact, you need only take a look at centre ice in the Calgary Saddledome. The Flames logo has already been replaced by the Calgary Hitmen’s dark mask icon. And why not? These are important games, especially since the games played are against the Edmonton Oil Kings, last year’s WHL champions. Still the ice is certainly a statement about NHL hockey in Alberta, both teams are in need of some serious changes and improvement to match up to the success of the WHL franchises.
Mitch Moroz wasn’t the name fans expected. No, many expected pretty much any name but with the second pick of the second round at the 2013 NHL entry draft. But the Oilers had their man with Nail Yakupov, they missed out on Henrik Samuelsson and didn’t intend to miss out on Mitch Moroz. You see, Tambellini was adamant that he was after character players, and filling needs with all remaining picks of the entry draft. With Moroz, the team took strength, skills and a personality that can at times be larger than life.
The draft rankings can get a little murky once you pass the top five. Even after the top three one tends to see a lot of variation from scout to scout, and so for many teams it becomes a matter of what they value and need the most that will lead them to pick one player over another.
For Edmonton Oil King centre Curtis Lazar bouncing around first round draft ranking has been something everyone constantly reminds him of this season, but somehow remains something he claims he never thinks about.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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