Showdown ready

CRASH CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

You know the cliche, you know the song: Two out of three ain't bad.

Here's another song: Leaving is hard to do.

The Oil Kings weren't at the media conference Monday unveiling their camouflaged third-jerseys because the team was still on the road from Regina, following the only loss of a three-game eastern swing.

"It was snowing when we went into the rink, but it was just snow that had been there from whatever weeks before," said assistant coach Rocky Thompson. "We walk out of the rink three hours later, it was a blizzard! Right away we were like, 'I don't know if this is going to work.'

"So we just ended up staying another night, wake up first thing in the morning and head out at first light. It worked out all right in the end."

Spoken like a true veteran of the road.

"We played well all three games, actually," Thompson said, recapping the trip.

"We had a good opportunity to win the Regina game, as well," he said of a 3-0 shutout by the Pats. "Had a couple of open-net chances in the first period, a goal disallowed in the second.

"We played strong, surprisingly, in those first 30 minutes of the game. Even through the second. We out-chanced them but we made our own mistakes not capitalizing. And we gift-wrapped a few opportunities for them."

In the third period of the third game on the third-straight night, fatigue was a factor - but not an excuse, said Thompson.

"We didn't have legs in the third period to come from behind. But the game was lost for us in the first period, really."

The results - 5-4 in Brandon, 3-1 in Moose Jaw - put a positive spin on the adventure.

"We faced some adversity in Brandon - we'd score, they'd score back right away. But we go to overtime and pull it out, win a game.

"Moose Jaw was a good game. The Warriors played strong. We got out to a lead early and were able to add to it late to solidify that first win."

The Kings did return with a hurtin' unit on board.

"Unfortunately we lost Vinny, as well," Thompson said of first-line Czech winger Tomas Concourse.

"He's just coming back from the World Juniors, just getting back into the swing of things. He got some great opportunities (in Regina), but I know he wished he could have had them over again. He doesn't miss those."

Now back on home soil, they face a mighty task in trying to cut down the Vancouver Giants, the Dub's No. 2-ranked team.

"I watched them practise (yesterday) and they're a well-structured, well-coached hockey team. They work hard, they do everything well.

"We're going to have to play extremely well to give ourselves an opportunity to be in that hockey game.

"We played them well at the beginning of the year. It was a 6-2 loss, but, believe it or not, we did a lot of good things in that game. So this will be a good measuring stick for us."

The Giants are headed to a showdown with the No. 1 Calgary Hitmen tomorrow.

Zero chance, Thompson said, that the Oil Kings will catch them looking ahead.

"They don't overlook anybody," Thompson said. "They'd have more losses on their record if they overlooked people.

"Donnie Hay wouldn't let them do that anyway!"\


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