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Four-goal first period and impressive debut by Warm propels Oil Kings to victory

Andy Devlin

 

For the first time in his Western Hockey League career, Beck Warm took to the ice donning a jersey other than that of the Tri-City Americans on Sunday.

That alone would make the game a memorable one, but his play while wearing his new jersey made it unforgettable.

The 20-year-old, Whistler, BC native turned aside 29 of 32 shots he faced to earn his first win in his first start with his new squad as the Edmonton Oil Kings (27-7-5-2) claimed a 4-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades (18-17-1-2) in front of 6,375 fans at Rogers Place.

Plenty of other fans watching from home also saw the milestone win for Warm (10-14-3-1), as the game was broadcast nationally on Rogers Sportsnet West, Ontario, East, Pacific and One.

Nolan Maier (15-14-1-2) was saddled with the loss, surrendering four goals on 44 Oil Kings shots.

Between the added lights and cameras, and the sense of pride surging towards countless televisions throughout Rogers Place airing the gold medal final of the World Junior Championship between Canada and Russia, there was an undeniable buzz in the building that overflowed into the game’s opening frame.

The home team barreled out of the gate to a 4-0, first-period lead on goals by Dylan Guenther, Liam Keeler, Vladimir Alistrov and Jake Neighbours, but the Blades made things interesting by answering with three goals in the second period.

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The Blades took the game’s first penalty just 1:25 in, and Guenther got the Oil Kings on the board just 14 seconds into the man advantage with his 14th of the season, from Ethan McIndoe and Riley Sawchuk, at 1:39.

Two minutes later the Oil Kings struck again, as David Kope won a puck battle beneath the Saskatoon goal line and squirted a pass to a wide-open Keeler in the slot who buried his 11th of the season at 3:38.

Alistrov’s 11th of the season was a one-timer – also on the power play – after a heads-up pass from Carter Souch which made it 3-0 Edmonton. Josh Williams earned the secondary assist on the goal at 12:09.

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The potent first period continued for the Oil Kings with Neighbours who, after being sprung by Guenther, made no mistake beating Maier for his 14th of the campaign at 13:34 with Sawchuk adding the second helper.

Edmonton commanded the pace of play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Blades, 20-8.

In the second the tables turned, with the Blades battling back with three goals of their own to make it a one-goal game.

With the Oil Kings whistled for tripping just 54 seconds into the middle stanza, Saskatoon made it 4-1 at 2:03 on the power play.

Edmonton thought it had restored it’s four-goal lead 1:43 later on a goal by McIndoe, but after a lengthy review it was deemed the goal was scored by a high stick and disallowed.

Saskatoon used the call to help them swing momentum in their favour, making it a 4-2 game at 7:26, then 4-3 at 12:50.

After being tangled up heading into the Blades end on a break, Williams was awarded a penalty shot at 16:07, but was turned aside by Maier.

Shots on goal in the second period were 15-14, Saskatoon, for a two-period total of 35-22, Edmonton.

The Blades pressed for the equalizer in the third period, but Warm and the Oil Kings were able to mitigate the threat and claim Edmonton’s sixth straight win on home ice. The team has now earned at least a point in their last 11 games at Rogers Place (9-0-1-1).

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Third period shots were 10-9, Blades for a game total of 44-32, Oil Kings.

Saskatoon was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Edmonton was 2-for-5 with the man advantage.

Colton Dach (SAS) (3), Liam Keeler (EDM) (2), and Dylan Guenther (EDM) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.

Riley Sawchuk, Matthew Robertson and Ethan Cap each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to captain Scott Atkinson.

The Oil Kings take to the road for their next three games beginning on Wednesday, January 8 when they face the Moose Jaw Warriors at 6:00 PM MT. After stops in Saskatoon vs. the Blades on Friday, January 10 (6:00 PM MT) and Prince Albert vs. the Raiders on Saturday, January 11 (6:00 PM MT), the team returns home to Rogers Place on Friday, January 17 when they host the Raiders for a 7:00 PM MT start.

EOK365 Season Seat Memberships, Five-Star Plans, Flex Packs and single game tickets are available for every Edmonton Oil Kings game this season. Ticket packages start at just $99 per seat, and single game tickets are as low as $20. Call 780-414-GOAL (4625), email sales@oilkings.ca or visit OilKings.ca for more information.

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