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, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

After four years broadcasting for the Major Junior Ottawa '67s, Edmonton native A.J. Jakubec returned home last year as the play-by-play announcer for the Oil Kings on Team1260. Jakubec has seen every game the revived franchise has played.

Here's his assessment as the second half of the team's second year gets underway.

"I think, especially, the inexperience (shows) on the blueline. Going into the season, I don't know if the Oil Kings were the youngest defence by age, but it was the most inexperienced in terms of WHL man games.

"(Mark) Pysyk, he's probably the Kings' best defenceman," said Jakubec about the young-stud D-man who's on the Pacific squad at the Under-17 tournament on Vancouver Island. "So, to lose him for four games, that's tough.

"Then you've got your 20-year-old, Brandon Lockerby, he's a third-year guy in the league."

But inexperience is a factor there, too. Originally brought in as a forward, the Oil Kings moved Lockerby back to defence.

"They switched him in October last year, but he only played defence fulltime maybe 16 or 20 games before he broke his jaw and was out the rest of the year.

"Even Lockerby, as a veteran guy, is relatively new at playing defence (at this level). Drew Nichols is the 19-year-old and this is his second year in the league.

"So that's a definite factor."

Up front, there's been effort, but not always polish. Especially with sniper Tomas Vincour at the World Juniors with Czech Republic.

"Goal scoring? Well it's a lot better than it was a year ago!," Jakubec laughed.

"Since the Swift Current game, the 6-3 game, they've struggled to score goals. So we'll see what the trend is in the second half."

"When Vincour plays and is on that line with Jeff Lee and Brent Raedeke, that's as solid a line as there is in the league. The (Brenden) Dowd-(Brett) Breitkreuz-(Nathan) MacCallum line is generally pretty solid.

"The big problem is having enough secondary scoring. One of the big problems is secondary scoring. But again, that's inexperience from the 16- and 17-year olds.

"I think they are pretty encouraged the way Robin Soudek is coming along, he's starting to show a lot more ability and a lot more confidence adjusting to the North American game.

"So there's one guy who could break out. T.J. Foster is still only 16 and is having a pretty good rookie campaign."

HERE AND THERE ...

- Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk just might have friendly stakes on tonight's game with a current teammate. Pysyk and Kootenay's Max Reinhart are teammates on Team Pacific Canada at the world U-17s on Vancouver Island. Pacific was 2-0 going into a game last night against Team Atlantic. Pysyk has a goal and an assist in wins over Russia (6-5) and Germany (4-1).

- Edmonton has signed 15-year old bantam draft pick Ryan Dech, a defenseman with the Midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. Dech is schedule to make his Oil Kings debut in Moose Jaw on Jan. 9. Fellow Winnipegger and top pick Michael St. Croix will also make his regular season debut on that Eastern road trip.

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WHO TO WATCH

T.J. Foster, C, #16

Do the Kings' have a new enforcer?

Not likely!

But the 160-pound, 16-year-old from Slave Lake did drop the gloves and hold his own against 18-year-old Calgary Hitmen Brendan Rowinski on New Year's Eve. It was the rookie's first tussle in the Dub.

COMING IN

The Oil Kings locked down the powerhouse Hitmen nil-nil through two periods Wednesday, and actually outshot them 14-7 in the second.

But the roof caved in only two-and-a-half minutes late in the third, and Canada's No. 2-rated Major Junior team added an empty-netter, leaving their rivals' barn with a 4-1 win.

"We just missed too many chances in the second period and it came back to bite us," Oil Kings head coach Steven Pleau said on www.oilkings.ca

"We got the lead, we got the one goal and that's where we've got to learn to be mentally tough and stick with the game plan.

"You can't go away from it. We had success with it for 45 minutes and then all of a sudden we score and play in our end for the last 15 minutes of the game. Give them credit, they're a heck of a team.

"We've got to learn from this game."

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WHO TO WATCH

Steele Boomer, C, #15

Ian Barteaux, D, #24

Local kids like to make an impression. Boomer, 18, is from the city and the 20-year-old Barteaux is from Fort Sask.

ICE CHIPS

As every Oilers fan of recent years knows, every game, every point is crucial for a team chasing the tail end of the playoff picture.

That's especially true as the Baby Oil hits the ice tonight against the Kootenay Ice.

"Kootenay, that's one of the teams (the Oil Kings) have a chance of catching for a playoff spot," said A.J. Jakubec. "They've played well against Kootenay, 2-and-1 against them this year.

"I think, in terms of the teams they are looking to catch, there's Kootenay, Lethbridge and Regina, for sure. I don't think Brandon is going to be in the mix," he said of the Eastern Conference Wheat Kings who sit

"They've kind of underacheived. Medicine Hat should stay where they are. Swift Current, it's harder to say. But I think Kootenay is the best chance (for the Oil Kings) to catch.

"Especially now that they've lost their top scorer Dustin Sylvester to a broken ankle," Jakubec said of the Dub's player of the month for November.

- On Tuesday, the Ice traded goalir Thomas Heemskerk to the Everett Silvertips in exchange for a third round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

COMING IN

Gave up three goals in the first and lost 3-2 to the Brandon Wheat Kings on New Year's Eve.


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