Following their run to the Memorial Cup last season, the Kootenay Ice have been trying to prove that their success was no accident. They’re succeeding. As the calendar moves closer to the end of the WHL regular season, the Kootenay Ice are one of the teams who have pulled out as a force to be reckoned with. Their defencive play can frustrate and irritate the strongest of teams, and of course they can score.
The Kootenay Ice opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period from Jagger Dirk with assists from Jesse Ismond and Sam Reinhart. Sam is the youngest of the three Reinhart brothers and not draft eligible until 2014. Already with the attention he is garnering it is becoming clear that he will likely be drafted the highest.
Watching a WHL game in the Red Deer Arena, the Enmax Centrium, is something completely different from a larger rink in a larger city. In Red Deer you may get funny looks as you walk through the concourse because you aren’t familiar, but those looks are always followed up with broad and genuine smiles. Red Deer is just a big little community. And everyone loves their local athletes; especially the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.
Last season, the Rebels featured first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This season, many in the crowds sport brand new Oilers jerseys crested with Nugent-Hopkins. And then there is also Mathew Dumba, another high profile, first round draft pick. There is some exciting hockey to be seen in Red Deer.
The Oil Kings have taken all three games against the Hitmen at home, and after falling behind the Hitmen early in the first period, it looked as though the Hitmen may take all of their home games. But, hockey is a funny sport, and you often need to see the full sixty minutes.
David Musil was the first son of an ex-Oiler drafted at the 2011 NHL entry draft in St. Paul Minnesota. You couldn’t help but wonder if he was selected for his bloodlines or his abilities, but knowing that Musil had been ranked anywhere from 23 (The Hockey News) and 38 (CSS for N.A. skaters) taking the defenceman at 31 was reasonable. When Steve Tambellini talked about the sons of Oilers up for grabs, he did agree that these players had been raised to handle the stresses that would come from being a professional hockey player.
There is no denying that the Vancouver Giants and the Calgary Hitmen do not like each other. While the two teams rarely face off, this competition and dislike may stem from the NHL or even the fact that they are two big western cities and are playing for bragging rights.
The Red Deer Rebels are once again a team of special interest for Oilers fans. With the current state of the defence, many would like to see the Oilers draft a hard hitting, physical, and yet playmaking defenceman.
Enter Mathew Dumba. Dumba hails from Calgary and on many nights is regarded as the Rebel’s best player. With his rocket of a slapshot, his big hits and his nose for the net, Dumba can do it all it seems. Currently, Dumba is ranked 6th by Central Scouting, but where he will actually be picked is anyone’s guess. And so, there are far more than just the Oilers and their fans interested in this young man.
Matt Mackenzie was the captain of the Calgary Hitmen when he was traded last January to the Tri-City Americans. It was a move to add depth to their blueline as the Americans prepared for what they hoped would be a long WHL playoff run. The Americans’ playoff run was not as long as they had hoped, but the experience gave the third round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres playoff experience he would not have had with the Hitmen.
The competition of the WHL’s Central Division has been heating up as of late. The Edmonton Oil Kings continue to put up record numbers and separate themselves from the rest of the pack and at the same time, the interdivisional games become even more valuable as teams gear up to win home ice advantage.
Sunday afternoon was another Central Division matchup when the Calgary Hitmen Hosted the Red Deer Rebels. The Rebels for a second year in a row are of particular interest to Oilers fans due to a young defenceman from Calgary by the name of Mathew Dumba.
For the Edmonton Oilers, goaltending continues to be an issue if not a major concern. When this season began, it appeared as though Nikolai Khabibulin was back to his prime and that Devan Dubnyk was ready to make the next step. Now, as the season has progressed, neither Dubnyk nor Khabibulin looks as steady, but they do still have great games from time to time.
What may be of little comfort to Oilers fans is that the Oilers may have the “real deal” waiting and developing in the WHL. For many however, Bunz is one of most exciting prospects in the Oilers’ system. After all, Bunz can be a real game changer. The best part of that of course being that Tyler Bunz was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Round. Everyone loves an underdog story.
All good things have to come to an end, including winning streaks. Wednesday night, The Calgary Hitmen’s winning streak had to end at 8 after an emotional 5-1 loss to central division rivals the Medicine Hat Tigers. With a total of 8 fighting majors, 114 penalty minutes and 33 infractions, both penalty boxes could have used revolving doors.
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.
You can subscribe to the RSS feed here
Follow on Twitter @lisamcritchie
Or contact directly firstname.lastname@example.org