Friday, March 25
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
#7 Edmonton Oil Kings vs. #2 Red Deer Rebels
Game 1 – Best of seven series tied 0-0
7:30 p.m. MT – ENMAX Centrium (Red Deer, AB)
RADIO: TEAM 1260
WEBCAST: WHL Live
TV: SHAW (Channel 10)
OIL KINGS & REBELS READY TO RUMBLE: Last Saturday night’s regular season finale between the Oil Kings and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centrium served merely as a warm-up for the Alberta 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 last 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 C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored two of the Rebels’ goals to lead his team to victory in Saturday’s season wrap-up. Oil Kings RW Cam Abney scored the lone goal for the visitors, while G Jon Groenheyde gave up the pair to Nugent-Hopkins and was otherwise flawless, stopping 30 shots in a losing cause. Red Deer LW Brett Ferguson scored an empty-netter to seal the win, while Rebels G Darcy Kuemper picked up the victory with a 23-save performance.
SEASON TO DATE: The Oil Kings finished the regular season with a 31-34-2-5 record, which included two modern franchise record five-game winning streaks during the first half of the campaign. They finished in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points and face the second-place Red Deer Rebels – who went 48-16-4-4 for 104 points during the regular season – in the first round of the WHL playoffs. The provincial and Central Division rivals played each other six times during the regular season. The Rebels won five of the six meetings, beating the Oil Kings 4-1 on Sept. 24 in Edmonton, 8-1 on Sept. 25 in Red Deer, 5-0 on Jan. 28 in Red Deer, 4-3 on March 18 in Edmonton and 3-1 on March 19 in Red Deer to close out the regular season. The Oil Kings earned their lone victory on Nov. 20 at Rexall Place, blanking the Rebels 3-0.
STREAKS & MILESTONES: LW Mike Piluso has scored four goals and three assists in 22 career WHL playoff games … Nine Oil Kings players have appeared in 58 total career WHL playoff games … C Jordan Hickmott played his 300th career WHL regular season game on March 15 vs. Lethbridge … D Adrian Van de Mosselaer is now the modern franchise leader in regular season games played with 218 … RW T.J. Foster played his 200th career WHL regular season game on March 18 vs. Red Deer … C Jordan Hickmott tallied two points on March 15 vs. Lethbridge to give him 150 career regular season points … C Travis Ewanyk, LW Dylan Wruck and RW T.J. Foster have each scored goals in two of their last three games… C Jordan Hickmott and RW Cam Abney each finished the regular season on a three-game point streak.
UPCOMING GAMES: The Oil Kings and Rebels open the 2011 WHL playoffs with Game 1 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series tonight at the ENMAX Centrium, while Game 2 is also in Red Deer on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Oil Kings home games (Game 3 and Game 4 of the first round) are scheduled for Monday, March 28 and Thursday, March 31, both at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place. Tickets to the first two Oil Kings home playoff games are available starting at just $15 by calling 780-414-GOAL or at oilkings.ca. Fans can also secure their seat to every Oil Kings 2011 home playoff game by purchasing the ATB Financial Playoff Pass for just $40.