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 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.
It was a long road and a hard fought battle, but with their 4-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks in front of 12514 fans, the Edmonton Oil Kings have earned their first modern franchise trip to the Memorial Cup.
In this year’s Memorial Cup the WHL champions, the Oil Kings will face off against the QMJHL champions the Saint John Sea Dogs , the OHL champs the London Knights and the host team the Shawnigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.
With Tuesday night’s 4-3 OT Oil Kings win, the best of 7 WHL finals series with the Portland Winterhawks is evenly split 2 and 2. Each team has won one home game and one road game, telling you that this series could certainly go either way.
Ryan Dittrick of EdmontonOilers.com was in Portland for game 4 and reports:
“What can you say? What a hockey game to coach,” said Head Coach Derek Laxdal. “Both teams going at it back-and-forth like a heavyweight bout. It’s good to tie the series 2-2 instead of going back home down 3-1. Now it’s a three-game series. It’s been a great series so far and I don’t expect anything less Thursday night.
“We were one player short with the suspension (to Henrik Samuelsson), and I thought our guys gave it a gutsy effort right from the get go. Even though we let them back in the game at 3-3, I thought our guys hung in there and found some energy. It was an incredible game by both teams.”
“It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to win the game, giving up a two-goal lead in the third period,” Rachinski added. “But we hung in there—they brought it pretty hard and we were able to weather the storm.
“[The puck] ended up hitting their D man and it popped right to me. I saw an opportunity to shoot. I didn’t even see it go in, but once I saw the reaction from the guys, it was a pretty special feeling.”
Hearing the pleas of the families in Edmonton, the Oil Kings have reduced ticket prices for the upper bowl seats for game 5 in Rexall Place. You can purchase $20 tickets (plus $2.75 service fee) through Ticketmaster to see what may be the Oil Kings final home game.
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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