Kings drop to Blazers

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

The Edmonton Oil Kings hope last night's game is not indicative of things to come.

Defensively they were strong.

Offensively they were challenged.

And their goaltending could have been better.

The Oil Kings lost 5-1 to the Kamloops Blazers in front of a capacity crowd of 2,152 at Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert.

The lost dropped the Oil Kings record to 1-1 in their six-team Western Hockey League exhibition tournament. The Blazers improved to 2-0 moving to the top of the heap.

"I thought our first period was a good a period as we've played," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau.

"I thought we had some chances, then we put them in the box two or three times. Then I thought we fell apart a little bit in the second and third period.

"We took way too many penalties."

It didn't take long for the Blazers to jump out ahead. CJ Stretch scored on the first shot of the game 25 seconds into the contest.

It was one of two shots the Oil Kings gave up in the period. They managed six shots of their own, but did little to trouble Blazers starting goaltender, Edmonton native James Priestner.

"I think there were some good things," Pleau said. "There were some good things we can build on and some things we need to learn from."

In the second, the Blazers doubled their shot count less than a minute into the period and their goal tally less than three minutes in.

Tyler Shattock poked in a puck that squeezed through the pads of Oil Kings starter Dalyn Flette and rolled towards the goal line. That came on the Blazers fifth shot on net.

Flette went on to make five more saves before being replaced by rookie Brian Kaval midway through the period.

Kaval, 18, was beaten shortly after entering the game as Jordan Rowley's point shot found it's way in on the power play.

Rowley, another Edmonton native, didn't score a goal all year last season for the Blazers. He netted his second a few minutes later, snapping a shot over the Kaval's glove to give the visitors a 4-0 lead.

Craig McCallum pulled one back for the Oil Kings before the end of the period, beating goaltender Jon Groenheyde on a wraparound.

Shayne Wiebe added a fifth for the Blazers in the third.

"I thought their (Blazers) conditioning and their skating was real evident," Pleau said. "After the fights we went down to three lines and one extra guy and I thought they did a great job of cycling the puck down low and changing that one guy and we just couldn't keep up with that tempo.

"That's something we're going to have to address and maybe it's a little bit of conditioning as well."

Earlier in the contest Wiebe was drilled while cutting across the blue line, initiating the Oil Kings first fight in franchise history.

Karle Benke hammered Wiebe in the second period and was then jumped by winger Sasha Golin.

The six-foot-six, 222-pound defenceman did well getting up to his feet after the hit, with Golin on his back, and the two squared off in a spirited affair.

Golin was assessed an instigating minor which is accompanied by a game misconduct. Benke was back after serving his major to the delight of his teammates who cheered as he made his away across to the bench from the penalty box.

The fight proved to be the undercard of the main event between Oil Kings forward Scott Skrudland and Blazers forward Matt Ray. The two squared off just inside the Blazers blue line with the six-foot-four, 185-pound Skrudland getting the better of the six-foot-two, 212-pound Ray.

The Oil Kings will play three more exhibition games before opening their inaugural season on Sept. 20th against the Kootenay Ice at Rexall Place.


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