September 14 2012 06:14PM
The Edmonton Oil Kings captured the imagination of Edmontonians in the spring with an unlikely run to the WHL championship. As luck would have it, they are the only (hockey) game in town this fall and fans may come in droves to see a winning club on Rexall ice.
A year ago, the Oil Kings won 50 games in a 72-game schedule, outscored their opponents by 117 goals during the regular year and won the championship in a season the experts expected a more veteran team like Portland to win the day.
The club's stars--Mark Pysyk, Griffin Reinhart, Keegan Lowe on the blue, Michael St. Croix, Dylan Wruck, TJ Foster and Kristians Pelss up front and goalie Laurent Brossoit--were joined by a strong group of rookies.
- Curtis Lazar, big kid with size and a complete skill set. A possible lottery pick at the 2013 NHL entry draft
- Martin Gernat, a big kid with tools and a nice range of skills. Gernat helped in every area.
- Henrik Samuelsson, the proverbial bull in a china shop and an outstanding young talent.
- Cody Corbett, effective if sometimes inconsistent defender.
- Mitch Moroz, power forward who improved markedly over the season.
- Ashton Sautner, a young defenseman who showed flashes and should emerge this season.
The combination of the veteran group being of a certain quality, the rookies emerging into significant roles and the quality and depth of the defense won the day.
And they'll be better this season, according to the experts.
I'm no expert, but Riga native Edgars Kulda posted some good pre-season numbers and has the attention of a few onlookers; Aaron Irving and Dysin Mayo are two outstanding D prospects who may or may not have an impact on this season (they're both 16).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It could be a long boring winter, but for hockey fans the Edmonton Oil Kings offer a quality alternative to the now defunct National Hockey League. Names like Lazar, Moroz, Jarry, Sautner and others are waiting to be discovered and this season should be another winner for the OK.
Bless you boys, be safe and bring home that Cup one more time.