RED DEER, AB – For much of the second half of the 2016-17 season the message was consistent from Edmonton Oil Kings Head Coach, Steve Hamilton.
Be patient. The future is bright. Need consistency from all 20 players.
Well in the second last game this season that future and consistency came together in a 4-1 Oil Kings win over the Red Deer Rebels Saturday night in what would be the first Edmonton road win in regulation since December 28, 2016.
“It was a really good team effort,” said Hamilton. “I thought Josh did an excellent job holding us in there in the second period and we got a good response in third. It was really nice to have Riley Stadel back in there and actually have all three of our 20-year-olds providing leadership.”
Brian Harris scored his first career WHL goal, Matthew Robertson picked up his first career WHL point (assist), Liam Keeler grabbed his second career assist and Josh Dechaine was simply brilliant stopping 33 shots in the win. The vets also were key with Stadel picking up his first goal as an Oil King (in his first game back in a few weeks), Russian defenceman Anatolii Elizarov also tallying and Tyler Robertson with a helper in his 234th WHL game – and second last game of his career.
The Rebels actually opened the scoring just 1:27 in when Lane Zablocki was left alone in the high slot and ripped home a laser of a wrist shot over Dechaine.
However, 90 seconds later Harris evened things up when he pounced on a Tyler Robertson rebound for his first career goal.
“It was very exciting,” said Harris. “It’s so hard to describe really. My line mates were great and helped me out and everyone was going tonight. Such a big team win for us.”
The Oil Kings made it 2-1 when Elizarov took a nice pass from Davis Koch and fired his seventh past Rebels netminder Lasse Petersen.
The Rebels started to press after that outshooting Edmonton 12-6 in the second period but could not solve Dechaine or the posts behind him. Michael Spacek leaned into a beautiful one-timer that ringed off the iron and then bounced off of Dechaine trickling to the goal line before the goalie scrambled and grabbed it.
The old adage you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good was there tonight for Dechaine.
“I thought it was a really big effort… a 20 man team effort,” said Dechaine. “Tonight everyone battled so hard and the PK was good too. That and it always helps out when guys are scoring goals.”
Dechaine continued his impressive performance when he made two gigantic left pad saves while the teams were playing 4-on-4 late in the period as well.
Stadel closed out the period with his sixth of the year – and first as an Oil King – as he put a backhand on net that found its way past Petersen to make it 3-1.
Red Deer kept the pressure on in the final frame. They outshot Edmonton 12-4 but Dechaine would have none of it stopping everything thrown his way.
With Tyson Gruninger off for fighting and interference, Koch had a breakaway shothanded and put a move on Petersen but the Danish goaltender stopped him cold in one of his 22 saves.
Stadel and Graham Millar ended it with 93 seconds to play when the grizzled veterans teamed up to score in the empty net.
“Good to be back with the guys,” said Stadel. “I got a lucky bounce on my goal but it went in, which was nice. It was a good win and we will have to do the same thing tomorrow.”
The Oil Kings and Rebels will finish off the season tomorrow afternoon at Rogers Place when the two teams tangle at 4:00 PM.