by Lisa McRitchie on 04/24/13 at 12:30 AM ET
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 The Flames logo has already been replaced by the Calgary Hitmen’s dark mask icon.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.
The Edmonton Oil Kings’ team is still littered with Oilers’ prospects; Travis Ewanyk, David Musil, Mitch Moroz, and the recently signed Martin Gernat. Depending on how the Oilers’ draft selection goes this year, Curtis Lazar may be added to that list, but that’s another matter altogether.
Due to the Oilers’ current playoff position and play as of late, it’s just another season of looking forward to the future, and hoping that maybe one of these young players could be part of the solution. From the WHL though, the NHL is a long way away. Still, it’s playoff hockey, and there is something to cheer for for Edmonton fans.
But maybe not for long.
After breezing through the 2012 WHL playoffs, and what they have seen of the 2013 playoffs, the Oil Kings are suddenly faced with a challenge and adversity. The team dropped the series opener at home to the Hitmen, 3-2 in overtime, but convincingly took game 2 by a score of 6-0. In this, game three, the Oil Kings fell to the Hitmen 5-2.
The Oil Kings opened the scoring, but struggles through the second period including sloppy stick penalties cost the team dearly allowing the Hitmen to score 5 goals on 26 shots.
“If you’re not going to be disciplined, you’re not going to win. It’s plain and simple.” A visibly frustrated Oil Kings’ coach Laxdal proclaimed following his team’s less than stellar performance. “If they don’t want to figure that out, it’s going to be a short playoff. If they figure it out, then Calgary’s got a battle on their hands, plain and simple.”
Laxdal emphasised his team’s need to play smart hockey, and that their chances were running out.
Ever the optimist, 2013 draft prospect Curtis Lazar felt that although his team had struggled against the Hitmen, twice now, there were still positives to take away from this game and that allowing yourself to get down will only make matters worse. “If you’re down in the dumps then you’re not going to get far. Everyone in the room is going to take the positives from tonight’s game.”
"There was no excuse, we were ready for tonight but they just pounced on us."
If the Oil Kings hope to make a run at a second consecutive WHL title, they can't afford to drop another game. It may be a 7 game series, but catching up is never how you want to take a series; it only makes the next round that much more difficult.
The Oilers' hopes may be completely dashed, but there is still room and cause for optimism with the Oil Kings. For now.
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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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