The Insider: Bouncing Back
In the last six plus years of doing play-by-play for the Oil Kings I’ve had the chance to call some big goals and moments. I can’t recall a bigger goal scored during the month of February than the one Tyler Robertson scored at 1:12 mark of overtime on Sunday evening against the Calgary Hitmen. Finally the franchise record-tying losing streak ended and the explosion of emotion was evident as the players hopped the benched and swarmed Robertson in the Calgary zone. It was fitting that the veteran Oil King was the one to end the streak; he is the longest serving member of the team and the sole remaining player from the 2014 Memorial Cup winner. He’s scored some big goals in his career thus far including a key goal in the Memorial Cup championship game and the Teddy Bear Toss goal in 2015.
“It’s up there,” Robertson said of the overtime goal during the Hockey Hooky broadcast. “It’s a big relief for our club; we’ve been struggling for a bit. To get that behind us is a big relief.”
It’s a huge weight off the back of the team that had actually been playing well at times during the losing skid. As I’ve remarked in the past they probably deserved a better fate in a handful of the losses but a couple mistakes can snowball on a young team. Bumping the streak against a rival like the Hitmen must have been a good feeling for everyone involved at ice level.
“It was a collective sigh from the group,” reflected head coach Steve Hamilton a couple days after the win. “It was a great celebration for the guys. It was something that you knew was going to happen but to go through it, the way it ended, fitting that Robbie scored that goal. It’s a pretty important way to separate ourselves from that streak.”
It was a big win but the grind continued a couple days later with the Hockey Hooky game and again it took overtime but the Oil Kings are riding a new streak, a winning streak. The bigger story to me is the way the Oil King blueline came together against the Kootenay ICE. Due to injury and suspension they were only able to dress five defensemen and two of those were affiliate players. Edmonton entered the game with 259 man games of WHL experience on the back end split between the five players. As a comparable, Kootenay’s Troy Murray had played 250 games himself. Conner McDonald led the way as he seemingly never left the ice during the tilt. But a couple more pieces of the future, Matthew Robertson and Jayden Platz, were on display as well.
Robertson played his 4th WHL game and the younger brother of Tyler is poised to become a household name among Oil King fans in the future. Matthew and Tyler are the first set of brothers to suit up together for the Oil Kings and for them it’s a first in organized hockey.
“It’s a surreal experience for sure,” the younger Robertson said. “I’ve never had the chance to play with him before; he’s four and half years older than me. It’s just…unreal.”
You can be sure the entire Robertson family is savouring these moments as Tyler is in his final year of eligibility in the WHL and Matthew is limited to five games until his midget team’s season is over.
The Oil Kings will welcome the return of Will Warm from his suspension when they open a six game road trip on Friday in Calgary but they will still be shorthanded as Brayden Gorda, Jordan Dawson, Riley Stadel, and Wyatt McLeod miss time with injury. Whether Matthew Robertson draws in again or Jayden Platz gets to stay with the team for a few more games, its clear the defensive core will be young for a while moving forward.