Jake Neighbours won’t soon forget his first career WHL hat trick.
And neither will the Red Deer Rebels.
Neighbours’ three tallies were part of Edmonton’s seven total third period goals as the Oil Kings (24-6-5-2) rallied to an emphatic 8-3 win over the Rebels (12-19-0-3) in front of 7,622 fans at Rogers Place on Saturday night.
Not only did Neighbours register the first three-goal game of his major junior career, but he did it in style, scoring three highly-skilled goals at an imperative point of the game – his second goal being the eventual game winner.
Credit to the Rebels; three times they jumped ahead, but each time the Oil Kings were faced with a deficit they erased it before taking – and holding onto – the lead in the third period.
Dylan Guenther also had an impressive performance, finishing the game with two goals and two assists to accompany the four-point night of Neighbours (3G, 1A).
Ethan McIndoe, Vladimir Alistrov and Loeden Schaufler were the other goal scorers for the Oil Kings, who have now won five in a row while earning points in each of their last ten games (9-0-1-0).
It was a penalty-filled affair after the teams met for the second time in a 24-hour span, last night with the Oil Kings grinding out a 2-1 win in Red Deer.
As he did last night, Sebastian Cossa (14-2-1-1) was integral in the Oil Kings success as he made a number of timely saves through the game’s first 40 minutes to allow the team to continue to battle back before the offensive flood gates opened in the third.
Byron Fancy (7-9-0-1) put in a yeoman’s effort in goal for the Rebels, tasked with facing 40 Oil Kings shots. He would surrender eight but turned aside 32.
As opposed to last night, it was the Rebels this time who opened the game’s scoring, as Josh Tarzwell scored his first of the night at 6:11.
The Rebels outshot the Oil Kings, 14-8, in what was a lackluster opening frame for the home team.
In the second Edmonton responded, as Guenther capitalized on the power play to tie the game, 1-1, at 9:02 from Logan Dowhaniuk and Scott Atkinson.
But the Rebels struck again with a power play goal of their own, restoring their one-goal lead, 2-1, at the 16:00 mark.
At 17:29, the Rebels were served a five minute major and game misconduct after Brett Davis crashed into Cossa in his crease.
The Oil Kings were unable to capitalize before the end of the period, which saw the Rebels remain in front on the shot clock, 24-23 through 40 minutes of play.
In the third, Edmonton was whistled for slashing just 29 seconds into the period, but during 4-on-4 play Neighbours tied the game, 2-2, making the most of a Rebels turnover and outwaiting Fancy with some dandy stickwork for his 10th of the season, unassisted, at 0:52.
But once again the Rebels had an answer and this time it came just ten seconds after the Edmonton goal, as Zak Smith restored a one-goal lead for the visitors at 1:02, also during 4-on-4 play.
For the third time in the game the Oil Kings tied things up, 3-3, as McIndoe registered his eighth of the season on the power play. It was reviewed by officials, but eventually deemed a good goal, assisted by Alistrov and Josh Williams, at 2:49.
It was onwards and upwards from there for the Oil Kings, as McIndoe’s tally was the first of six unanswered goals for the home side in a seven-goal total third period.
Neighbours’ second of the night was an absolute beauty to give the Oil Kings their first lead of the night, as he darted in on the far side then backhanded the puck top corner over the shoulder of Fancy, from Riley Sawchuk and Guenther, at 5:42.
He completed the hat trick with a goal-line snipe from the opposite side, giving the Oil Kings a two-goal lead, 5-3, at 8:19 from Guenther and Sawchuk.
Just over six minutes later it was 6-3 Edmonton after Guenther registered his 12th of the campaign, from Sawchuk and Neighbours, to total 11 points between the three players on the night.
In his second game since returning from action at the 2020 U20 World Championship (Division I, Group A), Alistrov potted his ninth of the season to make it 7-3 at 15:44 with the assists to Aidan Lawson and Jalen Luypen.
Scoring ceased with Schaufler’s third of the year, from David Kope and Atkinson, at 16:11.
Red Deer was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Edmonton was 2-for-7 with the man advantage.
Josh Tarzwell (RD) (3), Dylan Guenther (EDM) (2), and Jake Neighbours (EDM) (1) were selected as the Three Stars of the Game.
Matthew Robertson and Ethan Cap each wore an “A” and skated as alternates to captain Scott Atkinson.
The Oil Kings are back in action on Monday, December 30 when they travel to Calgary to take on the Hitmen at 7:00 PM MT in a game that will be broadcast nationally on Sportsnet. They return home to Rogers Place on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 when they host the Everett Silvertips for New Year’s Fireworks Frenzy at 2:00 PM MT.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit OilKings.ca for more information.