The Edmonton Oil Kings have grabbed points in 11 of their last 12 games, winning nine of them, and honestly, you could argue that they’ve deserved a better fate in every game they’ve lost.
There was a 4-3 overtime loss to the Swift Current Broncos back on November 2nd in which the Oil Kings outshot the Broncos 45-20 with 21 of them coming in the third period. They were clearly the better team, but Isaac Poulter stood on his end down the stretch. Another note from this game, Matt Robertson was absolutely fantastic. He controlled play, registered four shots on goal and was rewarded with a goal and an assist.
The game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on November 16th left a real sour taste in the mouth of the Oil Kings organization. Trey Fix-Wolansky got a breakaway in overtime and after missing on his initial chance, he jammed home the rebound. No whistle went, the Oil Kings spilled onto the ice, the Hurricanes went back into their room… and then the refs huddled up.
After a discussion, the officials decided that there was intent to blow the play dead since the referee couldn’t see the puck and thought Hurricanes goaltender Reece Klassen had covered the puck. The Hurricanes came back onto the ice and would win the game in a shootout.
The only other game the Oil Kings have lost this month came the next night against the Kelowna Rockets, a team that has already gone through a coaching change this season. Once again, the Oil Kings were all over their opposition, outshooting them 27-13. They also had a slew of wide-open looks which they fired wide or off the post. They played good enough to win.
Rockets goalie Roman Basran simply had their number on this night.
Three tough losses to swallow, but the Oil Kings hold a record of 5-1-1 in November and that has propelled them to a tie with the Red Deer Rebels atop the Central division. The Rebels have a whopping four games in hand, which will surely allow them to grab hold of the top spot, it’s just a matter of the schedule evening out.
Speaking of the schedule…
There are certain factors that make life difficult for WHL schedule makers. The teams all travel by bus and there are a good amount of teams who have to share their arenas. I understand that it’s a difficult process, but sometimes they make things incredibly difficult for the players (who are playing for free and often have to balance school).
On Monday, November 12th, the Oil Kings were in Lethbridge to play the Hurricanes and then each time had three days off before the Edmonton has to make the trek back to Lethbridge for another game on Friday night.
Neither team played on Sunday, but the Oil Kings played on Friday and Saturday, so they couldn’t have played a Sunday-Monday doubleheader. Still, they could have played a Monday-Tuesday doubleheader and the Oil Kings could have avoided the extra trip to and from Lethbridge. Instead, the Hurricanes wanted a Friday home game.
A poor decision in my opinion. Why not get the games out of the way and not force a team to take on extra bus travel? This isn’t just me complaining because it’s the Oil Kings either, there are plenty of ridiculous parts of the WHL schedule.
On October 26th, the Oil Kings had to head to Cranbrook for a single game against the Kootenay Ice. The game ended around 10:30 pm and then the Oil Kings would have had a roughly seven-hour bus ride overnight and then they had to play Saturday night at home to the Saskatoon Blade, and then again the next evening (4 pm start) against the Hurricanes.
Earlier that month, the Oil Kings played on a Friday night in Cranbrook and neither team played on Thursday. Why couldn’t they kill that game then and avoid another unnecessary, long bus ride?
Nothing will ever change, but I needed to get that off my chest.
This weekend, the Oil Kings will wrap up their eastern road trip with two games in two nights. Tonight, they’re in Moose Jaw taking on a Warriors team that sits 10-5-4 on the season. Tomorrow night, they’ll be in Swift Current to play the last place Broncos. Edmonton can’t take them lightly though, they did drop a decision to the basement dwellers earlier this month.
November has been a road-heavy month. They’ve only played once on home ice and have spent an absurd amount of time on the bus. After this road trip concludes, they finally get to spend some time at home.
Four of their next five games are at Rogers Place and the only road game is in Calgary, which is an easy trip.
The team has been playing fantastic despite their schedule so it will be interesting to see if they find another gear now that they’re on home ice, where they’ve been more comfortable this season.