All good things must come to an end, especially in sports. For the Edmonton Oil Kings, while they knew that their winning streak was going to be snapped at some point, they were hoping it wouldn’t have happened in the fashion it did.
1-SHE, 2-PA, 3-EDM, 4-OSH, 5-MON, 6-CHI, 7-EVT, 8-WSR, 9-OTT, 10-CAP.
Honours: PBO, POR, LET. pic.twitter.com/ha5Uyrjfgl
— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) November 7, 2019
“A little humble pie never hurt anybody,” said Head Coach Brad Lauer after the teams’ loss to the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday night.
That loss ended a seven-game winning streak and halted a run of 12 straight games where they got at least one point. It also came in a game that they had circled on their calendars. It was their first opportunity to face the Prince Albert Raiders, who eliminated the Oil Kings in last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
Simply put, the Oil Kings were not good enough in this game. They got the first goal of the game but from that point on, it was all Raiders. After 40 minutes, it was 5-1 for the defending WHL Champions and Edmonton had just eight shots on goal.
“We’ve won a couple where we haven’t been playing well and it finally caught up to us tonight,” added Brad Lauer.
It’s not the end of the world. This Oil Kings team is still very good but I think this will serve as a little bit of a wake-up call for them. It’s very hard to win in the WHL and when you go up against another top-tier team, you need to be prepared to battle for 60 consecutive minutes. If you don’t, then you’ll lose 6-2.
Despite the ugly loss, there were a couple of bright spots in my opinion.
Keegan Slaney got his first career WHL goal and while it wasn’t pretty, he let go of a wrister from the point bounced off a Raiders stick and floated over the shoulder of Boston Bilous, it’s still always cool to see the excitement on players face when they get their first goal.
“It felt really good. I got some confidence in my game and if I could bring that every night it would be awesome,” said Slaney after the game.
“It’s great to see. He’s been in and out of the lineup and for a young guy, it can be tough. The more games he gets to play, the more comfortable he’ll get,” said Brad Lauer when asked about the rookie defenseman.
When asked about his first few months in the league, Slaney spoke very highly of Ethan Cap.
“He’s taken me under his wing. He’s just been a really good influence for me,” said Slaney.
Another positive was the play of Matt Robertson. Right from the first shift tonight, he was engaged offensively. He was moving all around the o-zone, exercising some really good patience with the puck, and generated a handful of nice chances. He was also rewarded with a powerplay goal as well.
Jake Neighbours looked good as well. He knows how to use his size to his advantage and even though he’s big, he can play a fast game. The way he can use his feet to fly through the neutral zone and then seamlessly transition into dominating the cycle with his size and edgework is beyond impressive. There were a few times where he demonstrated his elite vision making some sharp no-look passes. He’s comfortable passing on both his forehand and backhand which is a unique tool.
Outside of the game this week, there was a nice announcement earlier on Tuesday as it was announced that Oil Kings forward Josh Williams had been added to the WHL roster for the CIBC Canada/Russia series. The series got going on Monday in Saint John as Team Russia took on Team QMJHL. The Russians will roll into Western Canada next week. The series will shift to Saskatoon on November 13th and then conclude the next night in Prince Albert.
For Williams, this is a very deserving nod. He has been having tremendous season thus far with eight goals and 11 assists in his first 16 games. He’s looked a lot like the player that Oil Kings fans thought they were getting last year when they acquired.
Maybe that’s too harsh of a statement because there were a lot of things that were out of Williams’ control. But, he didn’t get off to a great start with the Oil Kings. A personal matter had him out of the lineup early in his tenure and a nagging upper-body injury really limited him down the stretch.
This season, he has been healthy and confident and the results are reflecting that.
For Williams and the Oil Kings, they’ll look to get back in the win column this weekend when they face a very tough two games in two nights.
Friday, they’ll be in Lethbridge to face Dylan Cozens and the Hurricanes. Lethbridge is one of only two teams to have beaten the Oil Kings in regulation time so far this season. They’ll hop back on the bus and take the overnight trip home before hosting the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night. Not an ideal stretch for a team that’s coming off a disheartening loss. This will be an interesting week for the Oil Kings.