Edmonton, AB – Penalties were ultimately the Edmonton Oil Kings’ undoing on Friday night against the Kamloops Blazers at Rexall Place, as the Blazers scored two of their three goals on the power play to beat the Oil Kings 3-2.
Slovakian centre Dalibor Bortnak scored one goal and two assists, including the game-winner on the power play with 3:23 to go in the third period, to lead the Blazers past the Oil Kings. The home side made a late charge on a goal with 2:23 to go, but they couldn’t complete their comeback and lost for the fifth straight game to fall to 5-7 on the WHL season.
The Blazers opened the scoring with 8:34 to go in the first period, as Fort Saskatchewan native Jesse Sinatynski got the puck in the slot and slid a low shot through Oil Kings goalie Cam Lanigan’s five-hole to put the visitors up 1-0.
But the Oil Kings battled right back with their first goal just 37 seconds later on a fantastic individual and unassisted effort by Mike Piluso. The 20-year-old forward from Maple Ridge, B.C., cut across the slot and was denied by Kamloops goalie Jeff Bosch on his first shot, but then batted in the rebound to make it 1-1.
The lone goal of the middle frame came on a Blazers power play, as Edmonton native and Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Brendan Ranford fed a cross-ice pass to J.T. Barnett, who beat Lanigan with a high wrist shot to give Kamloops a 2-1 lead with 9:15 left in the period.
A Travis Ewanyk beat-down of fellow local product and Kamloops forward Colin Smith 8:53 into the third period for the only fight of the game gave the Oil Kings a momentum burst, but the Blazers regained control when Bortnak scored on the power play with 3:23 remaining.
The Oil Kings then pulled Lanigan in favour of an extra attacker, and the strategy worked, as defenceman Griffin Reinhart beat Bosch with a hard wrist shot from the point to get Edmonton within one. They pulled the goalie again in search of the equalizer, but the Blazers were able to hold on for the slim win. Bosch made 34 saves while Lanigan turned aside 36, as both the netminders had solid outings.
“We had some bounces that didn’t go our way and some calls that didn’t go our way,” Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We’ve established that we’re a pretty good hockey club playing from behind, but we’ve got to be able to go out in the first 20 minutes and get that first goal, get the lead and play with that sense of urgency right off the hop. Battling back is great, but being close only counts with hand grenades and horseshoes.”
The Oil Kings’ four-game homestand continues on Sunday with an afternoon game at 2 p.m. against the Kootenay Ice, and it’s an Edmonton Sun Autograph Sunday & Family Skate, as there will be a full team autograph session after the game, and fans are also invited to bring their helmets and blades to skate on the Rexall Place ice for one hour after the game.
Individual game tickets for all Oil Kings home games are on sale now and start at just $15 in the ATB Financial Zone. Season seats start at less than $9 per game, with the addition of some new Mini-Packs and Flex Plans this season as well. Tickets are available at any Ticketmaster outlet, online at oilkings.ca, or by calling 780-414-GOAL (4625).