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Oil Kings & Rebels Ready To Rumble In First Round

Red Deer, AB – Saturday night’s regular season finale between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centrium served merely as a warm-up for the bitter rivals, as they will now wage war in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

The provincial enemies closed out the regular season with a home-and-home, as the Rebels squeaked out a 4-3 win on Friday at Rexall Place and then edged the Oil Kings again 3-1 on Saturday in Red Deer. Potential 2011 NHL first-overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored two of the Rebels’ goals to lead his team to victory in Saturday’s season wrap-up.

Heading into Saturday’s action, the Oil Kings still had a chance to finish in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Moose Jaw Warriors 8-4 to clinch the higher seed. The Oil Kings (31-34-2-5, 69 points) end the season in seventh place and will now battle the second-place Rebels (48-16-4-4, 104 points) in the first round.

Nugent-Hopkins tallied his 30th goal of the season to make it 1-0 Rebels 3:43 into Saturday’s game, as he blasted a wrist shot top-shelf on on Oil Kings goalie Jon Groenheyde. Cam Abney tied it up for Edmonton at 12:04, banging in a rebound off the end wall on a shot by Braeden Laroque. Abney also earned a fight victory over fellow heavyweight Alex Petrovic late in the first.

Nugent-Hopkins struck again for the eventual game-winner 8:34 into the middle frame, beating Groenheyde with a deke. The Oil Kings goalie was otherwise flawless, though, stopping 30 shots in a losing cause. Brett Ferguson scored an empty-netter to seal the Red Deer win, while Rebels netminder Darcy Kuemper picked up the victory with a 23-save performance.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL GAME SUMMARY

The first round of the WHL playoffs, presented by Kal Tire and Husky, starts with Game 1 and Game 2 between the Rebels and Oil Kings on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Red Deer. The series then moves to Edmonton for Game 3 and Game 4 on Monday, March 28 and Thursday, March 31, both at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SERIES SCHEDULE

Tickets to every Oil Kings home game, including the first two home games of the 2011 playoffs against the Rebels, are available starting at just $15 at any Ticketmaster outlet, online at oilkings.ca, or by calling 780-414-GOAL (4625).

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