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.
The Eastern Conference leaders, the Edmonton Oil Kings, came into Calgary to challenge a team riding a six game winning streak. You must also remember that despite the fact that this is WHL hockey, this is still very much a battle of Alberta. It doesn’t matter how long a player has been with their team, they know that the rivalry is very real. And as such, this was anyone’s game.
Edmonton Oil King and Edmonton Oilers’ prospect Kristians Pelss was named the Team Captain for his country, Latvia in the 2012 IIHF World Juniors Tournament. For Pelss, being the team captain, the only player drafted into the NHL, a player currently playing in Alberta, and one of the few players on the team that speaks English fluently made him a very popular man with the media. With every loss, Pelss had to field more questions than any of his teammates. And although the weight of the world looked to be on his shoulders, Pelss handled it all with grace and strength.
This wasn’t the medal that team Canada wanted to play for, but this is the game they ended their tournament with. Despite strong play through their preliminary round, the loss to Russia Tuesday night was the most significant game of the tournament. For Finland, losing is never easy, but losing to Canada in Canada only increased the focus on their loss. Not that a 4-0 loss wouldn’t draw enough attention as it was.
An even dozen, that’s how many goals Team USA managed to score Tuesday against Latvia, after a lackluster preliminary round for both teams.
For the both teams, this game was as much about pride as it was securing a position in this tournament for next year. Now, Latvia has one more game and nothing to lose.
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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