In front of the Calgary crowd of 12 598 on the second day of competition, it was the goaltenders for both Latvia and Slovakia that defined the game. Kristers Gudlevskis stopping 42 or 44 shots faced was named player of the game for Latvia and Jurjaj Simboch turned away 25 of 26 shots on goal to be named player of the game for Slovakia.
While the Edmonton Oilers have been struggling as of late to find wins, their AHL and WHL affiliates have found themselves in the exact opposite situation. The Oilers have still played some exciting hockey, and of course the future looks bright but while the Oilers are falling towards the bottom of the NHL, the Barons are sitting on top of the AHL, and the Oil Kings’ strung together 11 wins before their Christmas break.
The Edmonton Oil Kings have very quietly been stringing together a great 11 game winning streak this season. The reason I say quietly is because from my perspective, the Oil Kings have been receiving very little media attention and I cannot figure out why.
This year the Calgary Hitmen and the Edmonton Oil Kings will be co-hosting the IIHF World Juniors Tournament. That alone should be enough to pique the interest in the teams, especially since both cities are hockey crazy. For whatever reason however, the Oil Kings continue to see low attendance numbers and little to no coverage in either newspaper.
This Sunday was the annual Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss and although I was not able to attend, I wanted to take a look at the event. The Teddy Bear toss is exactly what it sounds like; a toy drive for the Alberta Children’s Hospital, and it is quite successful. Last year, fans threw 23, 096 stuffed toys onto the ice following the Hitmen’s first goal of the night. This year, the 17th running, that total was 25, 303.
The Team Canada World Juniors camp invitations have been announced and only 3 players from last year’s silver medal winning team will be returning. This group of players features no real surprises, but definitely a large number of talented players.
Edmonton Oilers’ prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz is on the list as is Edmonton Oil Kings defencemen Mark Pysyk. Both are Edmonton natives who are hoping to represent their country in their home town.
Aaron Vickers of NHL.com has some comments from Team Canada head of scouting Kevin Prendergast:
I think the skill factor overall (is higher),” Prendergast said. “We have a lot of skilled defensemen. Not near as big as we were last year, but we have good players back there. We’re young up front compared to where we were last year, but you look at these kids, you look at their stats, where they were drafted in the (NHL) draft, they were in NHL camps for a while. They understand what they have to bring when they get here.
The Edmonton Oil Kings were proud to select in the first round of the 2011 CHL import draft Martin Gernat, a Slovakian player who had just been drafted in the fifth round by the Edmonton Oilers. Being a fifth round pick, expectations were low going into this season but Gernat may be out to prove just how much the amateur scouting of the Oilers has improved since Stu MacGregor has taken over at the helm.
Griffin Reinhart is the middle son of Paul Reinhart, former defenceman for the Calgary Flames. Griffin’s older brother Max is a centreman who like his father has also been drafted by the Calgary Flames and his younger brother Sam is also a centreman and days away from his 16th birthday and so still a few years away from his 2014 draft year. Max was selected in the third round, Griffin is projected to go top ten and even now Sam is said to possible go in the top five. The Reinhart family is quite the incredible story.
The Edmonton Oilers this summer selected another Edmonton native and member of the Edmonton Oil Kings at the 2011 NHL entry draft. Centre Travis Ewanyk hails from St. Albert which for all intents and purposes is essentially just a continuation of Edmonton to the north. Ewanyk was selected in the third round, 74th overall, just one spot behind his teammate and good friend Keegan Lowe who went to the Carolina Hurricaines.
The Edmonton Oil Kings’ captain Mark Pysyk was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL entry draft after years of hard work with the Oil Kings. After an invite and strong Team Canada camp this summer, the young defenceman even stood a small chance of making the big club this year because he’s been developing quite nicely. Through the Oil Kings’ first 13 games, Pysyk is -1, has 5 assists and 27 penalty minutes. Pysyk now plays every game with the added pressure of knowing that the Sabres are watching him intently, as are the coaching staff of Team Canada. However, being named today to the WHL team of the Subway Super Series which will be played against Russia might relieve some pressure. This tournament is very important to the Team Canada world juniors team selection and is an indication that Team Canada Hockey likes what they see in Pysyk.
Edmonton Oil Kings double up Portland Winterhawks 8-4
The Edmonton Oil Kings hosted the Portland Winterhawks in Rexall Place Friday night. Having been in the same building the night before when the Oilers hosted the Wild, I can say with confidence that The Oil Kings game was far more exciting, but sadly very few people enjoyed the same experience.
The Oil Kings are still a fairly new expansion team, and of course didn’t have a lot of success to start but success has been coming and this year’s team is strong, talented and exciting to watch.
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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