Uniform behaviour

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

They looked good in those red old-school uniforms with the blue and white trim.

It had been nearly 30 years since they'd been seen around these parts.

On the ice, they didn't look bad either.

The newest incarnation of the Edmonton Oil Kings played their first game in franchise history yesterday at the Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert.

And while the 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets may have been of the exhibition variety, it was a win none-the-less.

"Winning is always important," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau. "Any game you enter you want to win. Winning is contagious."

Winning is important from a marketing standpoint as well. As an expansion team, the Oil Kings are expected to take their lumps this season. It's the trend.

With a solid group of WHL veterans on the squad, the team is looking to buck the trend.

"We want to have that winning feeling going into the regular season," said Oil Kings forward J-P Szaszkiewicz. "We also want to be able to score lots of goals. We had guys step up today which was good. We have to try to keep that up through the pre-season so we can do well in the regular season."

Scott Skrudland - nephew of former NHLer Brian Skrudland - scored the Oil Kings first goal, stepping into a shot from the top of the circle and blowing it over the shoulder of Rockets goaltender Kristofer Westblom.

The goal tied the game midway late in the first period.

"I think now it means something to score the first goal in team history," Skrudland said. "During the game it's so intense and so much is going on, you kind of score and move on. Now, coming down after the game you start to think about it.

"It's pretty cool and I guess it's an honour scoring that first one with the new squad here in Edmonton."

Like the Rockets' game-opening goal, the Oil Kings' first was also short-handed. Shayne Neigum picked off a pass at the Rockets blue line and found Skrudland along the boards.

At six-foot-four, 185-pounds, Skrudland, 19, is not a potent goal-scorer. In 23 games with the Kamloops Blazers last season the Winnipeg native failed to record a point.

But on a team expected to struggle offensively this season, they'll take goals where ever they can get them.

"Everything is new for us here," Skrudland said. "It's important for us to come in and get that confidence ... Getting a few wins going into the regular-season is key.

"For me, it was good to bury one. It's not something I do a lot. I'm more of a physical guy. But any time I get an opportunity like that I have to bear down and put it in."

Thomas Vincour added a pair of goals in the second period to give the Oil Kings a 3-1 lead.

Myles MacRae cut into the lead in the third period, stripping Tyson Barrie of the puck at the Oil Kings' blue line and blowing a shot past Ward.

Clayton Cumiskey scored the eventual winner, finishing off a three-way passing play on the power-play.

McRae rounded out the scoring off a mad scramble in front with 3.6 seconds left.

"It felt good to get the win," said Pleau. "Obviously there's a lot of things we have to work on. But it was nice for the guys to get a little taste of victory."


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