While the Edmonton Oil Kings’ season can be described in one word, that being “struggle,” with just two wins in their first 20 games, things are starting to look up for the squad in Alberta’s capital. At the time of writing, Edmonton just dropped a 6-1 decision to the Medicine Hat Tigers in game two of a four-game road trip. Before that, however, they pulled together consecutive wins for the first time this season, both in regulation. First, a 5-3 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings, followed by a 4-2 comeback win against the fifth-place Lethbridge Hurricanes.
While Brandon is just one spot ahead of Edmonton in the Eastern Conference at this time, a win is a win. More importantly, a breakout game for a couple of Oil Kings youngsters. Cole Miller opened the scoring on the powerplay just two and a half minutes in, and Gavin Hodnett potted his first WHL goal 10 minutes later, also on the man advantage. Nolan Ritchie would go on to tie the game with two goals of his own, but the Oil Kings weren’t done. Miller collected another, as did Hodnett, and while top prospect Nate Danielson brought the game to within one, Hodnett completed the hat trick with an empty net and finished the game with points on all five goals.
Also recording multi-point games were Luca Hauf and Marshall Finnie, with two assists each. Aside from individual points, this game showed that the powerplay can really start to click with all of the dynamic weapons developing.
The following night, hosting Lethbridge (5th place, Eastern conference) was no small task for Edmonton. Vojtech Port got the game’s first goal on the powerplay, which went 1/4 on the evening. Cole Shepard and Tyson Zimmer gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame, but Kolby Hay shut the door from there, and a three-goal third period gave the Oil Kings the 4-2 win. Carson Golder notched three points in the victory as well.
While Edmonton did suffer another big loss right after the mini two-game high, the light is starting to be seen for the Oil Kings. With the emergence of Hodnett, Port, and Hauf, among a few others, this team is starting to slowly but surely come together as the season rolls on. Still, a concern is special teams, as they sit dead last and second last on the powerplay and penalty kill, respectively, but both are starting to show improvement. Finishing off their road trip with a back-to-back in Swift Current against the Broncos, Edmonton will see a fair amount of rest in the next couple of weeks as the majority of games are at home heading into the holiday break.
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