In the future, I hope the first real day of training camp isn’t on a Saturday. Getting to the rink for 8:30am is tough, especially for a guy getting used to having his Friday nights off for the first time in five years. So I didn’t make the first period of the morning game between team white and blue, but I got there just in time to see the first fight of camp.
Right off the draw to start the second frame, Adam Huxley and Garet Hunt doff the lids and dance. Hunt gave up about four inches as they square off. After about 15 seconds of dancing around and sizing each other up, they engage. Hunt gets in tight to try and make up for the height disadvantage and for the first few seconds it works, as he lands a few short rights. They get at arms length and start exchanging rights, the crowd gets into and starts to cheer, but none of the punches are landing square. Then Huxley takes over and starts to rain upper cuts to the chin, forehead and beak of Hunt. After four good shots landed by Huxley, they tie each other up and the refs separate them. Hunt is a little worse for wear as he heads the dressing room with a good gash above his eye. Decision Huxley.
Here are line combinations for the morning game.
Gagner – Horcoff – Trukno
Paukovich – Bernier – Goulet
Hunt – Corazzini – Mcdonald
White had five D-men so no there were no set pairings, although Gilbert and Grebeshkov played together quite often.
Gilbert – Grebeshkov
Wild – Maslonka
Roloson and Perugini.
Reddox – Brodziak – Stortini
Huxley – Potulny – Bates
Moreau – Pisani – Penner
Souray – Smid
Taylor – Pisano
Dubnyk and Fisher.
Dubnyk and Roloson played the first period and Roloson gave up goals to Brodziak, Potulny and Bates. Dubynk got beat by Horcoff and Paukovich.
5:50… Six minutes into the 25-minute second period team blue takes a 4–2 lead as Kyle Brodziak, pots his second of the game, this one blocker side on Perugini. If you recall, Brodziak was red-hot in camp last season, with four goals in the first two days, and continued that for the first 15 regular season games. Brodziak is off to a good start again with a pair of goals already.
Not a lot happens for the next 13 minutes until Hunt—fresh from getting stitched up—takes a run at Taylor behind the Blue net. Taylor responds with a cross check, they skate to the top of the circle, exchange cross-checks and the gloves are off. Once again Hunt gives up about five inches, but this time he doesn’t take any big shots. Pretty uneventful fight, but Hunt was understandably protective of his face in this one.
20:55… 5–2 Blue as Huxley is now an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat-trick as he pots a beauty from just inside the right circle. From a sharp angle he takes the pass from Potulny and fires it top-shelf. The scouting staff of the Oilers is impressed with the shot, as a few Ohhhs and ahhs come from their section.
24:15… 5–3 Blue, as Bernier on a nice feed from Horcoff beats Fisher five hole. That was the only real good chance White had in the second frame as Blue dominated the entire period.
Team Blue wins the first game 5–3 and Brodziak is the star with a pair of goals.
After watching Hunt drop the mitts twice in the early game, you wonder how long it will take for the fists to fly in the second tilt. Here are the lineups.
Nilsson – Brule – Hemsky
Chwedoruk – Spurgeon – MacMurchy
Lefebvre – O’Marra – McMorrow
Visnovsky – Chorney
Young – Roy
Garon and Pitton
Schremp – Cogliano – Cole
Lerg – Pouliot – Eberle
Benson – Sestito – Rohlfs
Peckham – Staios
Strudwick – Bisaillon
1:14… McMorrow takes a tripping penalty and Blue gets the first PP.
1:30… Ryan O’Marra takes a nice pass from Lefebvre and pots it—a lucky bounce as the puck squeaks past Deslauriers. Not the start Deslaurier wanted. He will have to play unreal if he hopes to stay with the big club. O’Marra, who looked really slow in rookie camp gets the shorthanded goal, and more importantly some confidence.
4:15… Our first look at Visnovsky and it’s a good one, as he streaks in from the right point and one-times a rocket glove side past Deslauriers. MacMurchy sets it up with perfect saucer pass from the left corner.
4:38… As predicted, Benson and McMorrow drop the gloves and helmets and square off. Benson looks like Hunt did earlier giving up four or five inches. After 20 seconds of shadow boxing they finally engage. McMorrow lands three quick uppercuts, but none do any real damage. He switches hands and lands two over-the-top lefts. Benson responds with a right, they pull away a bit and Benson lands a solid right. They get in tight again and each guy lands a few to the back of the head. The refs step in as each guy pats the other on the back. Decent tilt. I’ll give it to McMorrow, but barely.
8:46… Garon makes his first big stop with a leg save on Rohlfs.
14:38… Schremp gets his first of the tourney as be slaps home a rebound. After making a nice pass to Sestito, Schremp glides to the low right circle. Garon kicks out the Sestito shot, Schremp corrals the bouncing rebound and slaps it home short side. Garon got a piece of it but not enough.
16:19… Team Blue ties it as young Cornet back hands a rebound over a sprawling Garon. Staios took the shot from the right point, Garon couldn’t control the rebound and Cornet just gets it over Garon.
18:22… Deslauriers hasn’t seen a shot in over eight minutes, so he strolls out of his net grabs the puck and holds on for the whistle. I think he just wanted to remember what the puck felt like as team Blue dominated the past ten minutes of play.
20:14… Team White with a penalty. Clearly it’s the first day of camp, because I, Ken Reid, Dean Millard and Ryan Rishaug didn’t even notice there was a call. And couldn’t tell you who took the penalty. I told you earlier, it is Saturday after my first Friday of not working until 12. It’s called a rough morning.
21:12… Garon’s best sequence of saves as he stops Rohlfs twice in front before holding on to the third shot courtesy of Sestito.
22:11… Cogliano takes a sweet pass from Cole, goes in all alone and slips it five hole with just a few seconds remaining on the power play. (Matty Roy leaves the sin bin in case you really cared who took the penalty.)
Team Blue leads 3–2 after 25 minutes.
Second Period….Pitton in goal for team white now.
I’m freezing watching these final 25 minutes. Man I am soft—I don’t know how you hockey parents do it. I know the small rinks are much colder than this. I would go have a beer to warm up, but a frosty costs $7.75. Are you kidding me? How do you college kids drink at games? I’m guessing the janitorial staff will find many empty Canadian Club mickeys in the washroom this year.
6:47… Finally something happens and Eric Cole gets his first in an Oiler jersey. Cole has been going hard to the net all game and he beats Pitton along the ice. I’ll say it now: Oilers fans will warm up to Cole’s game quickly. He goes to the net hard every shift and if he can stay healthy he will score 37 goals playing with Hemsky. 4–2 Team Blue.
9:44… A Gilbert Brule sighting as the former first rounder snips one past Deslaurier from the low slot. Brule definitely has some speed and a bit of grit in his game. If he can score and play with an edge he could find himself along side Brodziak and Stortini to start the year… 4–3 team Blue.
13:02… Bryan Young runs over Benson behind the white net. Young has been taking some good runs all game. It looks like he has improved his skating quite a bit. He is old school when it comes to hitting. He isn’t afraid to take a run at a guy, and so far he hasn’t put himself out of position doing it.
15:03… Cole with his second. He roofs a snap shot over Pitton’s blocker. Cole has looked really impressive this period. Pitton didn’t even move until the puck was in and out of the net. I repeat: If Cole stays healthy he will score 37 or more playing with Hemsky and Horcoff. Can you remember the last time an Oiler scored 35 goals? I’m too cold to look it up, but I’m sure it was Ryan Smyth in 2006, and I think it was 37 goals, but don’t quote me on that… 5–3 team Blue.
19:14… Not much has happened in the past few minutes, but I just realized that Strudwick trimmed his hair. Being a guy who hasn’t let my hair grow for more than three days for the past ten years I’m always curious as to why guys would trim a good salad. Strudwick had pretty good hockey hair a few weeks ago, so I can’t understand why he cut it. The hair made him look tougher as it came out the bottom of his helmet.
22:09… I stop my hair thoughts to tell you Deslauriers just made his best save of the game, as he stretched out the left pad and robbed Brule from in close.
22:58… Back to hair: Strudwick could have been an instant fan favourite just because of his hair. I’m not saying the fans won’t like him for his grit and toughness, but many of you would have loved him just because of the hair. Strudwick’s decision to cut his locks is the worst decision I’ve seen in training camp so far.
24:01… Final minute and Team White pulls Pitton. Blue controls and Cole fires from centre looking for the hat trick, but his shot hits O’Marra’s stick and rolls to the corner.
Buzzer sounds to end the first day of camp. Team Blue wins 5–3. Cole with a pair of goals ties Brodziak for the early lead in scoring.
See you tomorrow, when I bring my toque and mitts…Mr. Janitor if you read this feel free to turn down the AC a bit tomorrow.