The Oil Kings are rested and ready to go as they welcome the Regina Pats to Rogers Place this afternoon. Following a 6-0 spanking at the hands of the Spokane Chiefs, Edmonton got a full week to reset and find the level of play that had them competing with some of the WHL’s best teams.
Before dropping last Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, the Oil Kings had grabbed points in four straight and were 4-4-2 over their past ten games. Despite some solid play, the team was showing some fatigue towards the end of that stretch and a reset over the past week should serve them well.
“It was nice to be able to give the guys a couple days away from the rink and recharge,” said Head Coach Steve Hamilton “You could see a noticeable change when we came back from the rink. Legs were working a little harder”.
Anything this team worked on during their multiple practices will be put to the test against a very strong Regina squad who’ve grabbed wins in four of their past six games.
Hamilton knows the Oil Kings will be pushed but is confident in his group, “Regina is a good team, they got a couple of really special players” he added, “We’re a more confident group having been through some of those tough games in Saskatchewan”.
One of those tough games came just eleven days ago when the Oil Kings pushed the Pats to overtime. It was a strong game for Edmonton, who got two points from Tomas Soustal and a 27 saves from Boston Bilous in the OT loss.
The Pats are led by a pair of local products, both of whom were selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2016 NHL Draft. Josh Mahura, a St. Albert product, was taken 85th overall and is producing over a point per game from the back end. Sam Steel was taken in the first round and is also enjoying a strong start to the year with 17 points in 12 games. Both these players should draw some interest from Hockey Canada when the World Juniors roll around.
Following this afternoon’s match-up with the Pats, the Oil Kings will host the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades next week before heading out on a five-game road trip through British Columbia.
- The Oil Kings are currently sporting a 5-7-2 record and are 5th in the Central Division. The Pats are 8-6-1 which is good for 4th in a very competitive East Division.
- On the powerplay, the Oil Kings are 16th in the league at 17.7%, while Regina is 7th at 26.6%
- Both teams struggle on the penalty kill, with the Oil Kings at just 69.1% and the Pats are 70.8%. Both are bottom three in the WHL.
- Offensively, keep an eye on Pats forward Matt Bradley who has 12 goals and 11 assists in 14 games.
- Regina will be closing out a doubleheader, which should work to Edmonton’s advantage. The Pats have lost the back-end of their last two back to back sets.
FIX-WOLANSKY OFF TO A SOLID START
He’s become a fan favourite around the Oil Kings and I had a chance to chat with #27 before the game today against Regina.
Fix-Wolansky is now in his second year with the team and is coming off a very impressive rookie season that saw him chip in 24 goals and 30 assists in 70 regular season games. Even after a successful rookie campaign, Fix-Wolansky knew he could continue to get better.
“There’s always room for improvement. I’m just trying to come to practice every day and get better”, specifically, he wants to work towards becoming a more well-rounded player “Just becoming a full 200-foot player is the most important thing this year” said the 18-year-old.
He started the year on a line with Davis Koch, who he was familiar with, but the lines have been mixed up lately and over the past few weeks he’s found himself on a line with Scott Atkinson and Andrei Pavlenko. The change didn’t phase Fix-Wolansky, “Working on chemistry with multiple guys isn’t a bad thing”.
When I asked him how tough it can be to get used to new linemates, again, he sort of shrugged it off. “Communication is the most important thing” he added “Just talking to each other and letting each other know what kind of players you are. You’re going to get a good feeling (on the ice)”.
Fix-Wolansky’s skill wasn’t just noticed by the Oil Kings. His strong rookie season earned him an invite to the Oilers annual rookie camp, something the Edmonton product couldn’t have been more thrilled about. “You work for that your whole life. Growing up here in Edmonton, being an Oilers fan, it’s a dream to one day put on that jersey and the dream came true this summer”.
Fans may be seeing Fix-Wolansky light the Rogers Place lamp for a long time, and not just in an Oil Kings jersey.