Opportunity knocks with Oil Kings

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, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

He finished last season as one of the watching wounded.

To start this season, Adrian Van de Mosselaer is back on the Edmonton Oil Kings' blue-line, switching from one of the missing parts to one of the integral pieces on another patched-up defensive squad.

From his crutches, Van de Mosselaer saw some young juniors gain valuable experience in his on-ice absence during a run to the final playoff spot.

DEPLETED RANKS

Now, the Kelowna-born 19-year-old is bringing his experience as some new blue-liners take the ice in the absence of injury-listed Mark Pysyk (concussion), Henrik Tervonen (shoulder) and Jesse Pearson (concussion).

"We're down a few guys, but it's not going to stop us," Van de Mosselaer said before last night's game against the Portland WinterHawks. "We're going to come out hard and do our best. Guys getting this experience now is going to help us no matter what. Lots of guys are getting ice time and that's a good thing, a positive for the future and for now."

Twenty-year-old Drew Nichol has also been bringing the old-school to work -- as he was also able to do during last season's stretch drive -- with the young'uns. Injuries are just something to play through.

"It may be a bump in the road as a group, but that just gives other people an opportunity to step up," said Nichol.

"We have a room full of capable younger guys and capabale older guys that can all fill those roles. So that just means there's opportunity for other guys to get into those positions and do their best."

Last season, Van de Mosselaer was mostly paired with a rookie defenceman -- though Pysyk rarely looked like a raw rookie -- as the right-handed duo regularly logged the most ice time.

This season, Van de Mosselaer has again been hitched with rookies, although the Oil Kings defence has been more mix-and-match with lefty shooters like Keegan Lowe and Braeden Laroque both breaking in alongside No. 2.

"These past few games everyone is still feeling it out at the start of the season. We're mixing it up between power play, penalty kill and five-on-five -- different situations you'll be skating with different guys. So you can't expect to be with the same player the whole game.

"Personally, I can't let that affect me. You have to be ready to play with whomever, left- or right-handed."

Van de Mosselaer is aware that any three-year WHL veteran has expectations of providing leadership.

"There's definitly a role there that needs to be played, so that's part of it. It's expected. You've still got to stick to your game. You have to work hard, you can't just expect the (ice time) to be there," he said

QUIET LEADER

The six-foot-three, 205-pounder likes to make noise with board-rattling bodychecks, but you won't hear his voice go off the Richter scale.

"I like to give pointers and little things but I'm not a huge vocal guy.

"But if I think someone needs to be doing something better or different on the ice to help us, then I'll let them know -- just talk to them.

"I won't be screaming on the bench, that's for sure."

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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