Up-and-down start for Oil Kings

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:40 PM ET

Yes? No? Maybe?

The Edmonton Oil Kings started their fourth season by losing their first two, to the resurging Red Deer Rebels — one at home, one in the Deer.

Then the Kings ripped of a modern-franchise five-in-a-row, starting it on the road and continuing it at home. Then they lost 7-1 last Friday to the slow-starting but growing-strong Medicine Hat Tigers. The Tigers did it to them again the next night in their barn. The Swift Current Broncos gained revenge for a loss here the next night before the negative streak went to four Tuesday night, in Cranbrook against the Kootenay Ice.

“They’re not as good as they were winning five, and not as bad as they were in losing four,” said Corey Graham, in his first year as the play-by-play voice of the Oil Kings on Team 1260.

“They played pretty good (on the trip) despite the results,” Graham said. “If you saw all of the games, without knowing the scores, you would have thought they won two of them.”

But two things were a common thread: “Giving up the first goal,” said Graham, and “they couldn’t score when they needed to.

“Some guys made some mistakes, as you would expect (of a young team). I’m pretty sure they’re frustrated. They controlled a lot of the play in Medicine Hat.”

After the 7-1 thumping at Rexall, the OKs were torched again by Tyler Pitlick, the Minnesota-born Oilers draft pick in his first year in the WHL.

Pitlick had three assists in front of his future employers Friday and then a goal and two assists during the 6-4 loss the Hat on Saturday.

After keeping Oil King-killer Linden Vey at bay here, he returned to form with four assists and a plus-3 in his own barn.

Blanked by the Broncos 4-0 in the tail end of the three-games-in-three-nights, the Kings showed their youth again, not getting the key saves, not getting a key goal to get back in it, and letting it get to them.

“They’re down 1-0, a goal goes off a defenceman, there’s a breakaway against …,” and there you go.

Tuesday in Kootenay, “It’s 1-1 going into the third …” and there you go again.

To top it off, the Kings were beaten by a 14-year-old in the 4-1 loss. It was the younger brother of prized OK rookie Griffin Reinhart, Sam, who did the deed, cashing in on a 3-on-1 1:19 into the final frame.

•••

The old man couldn’t have dreamed it better.

A Stanley Cup finalist with the Calgary Flames, Paul Reinhart — the Kitchener, Ont.-born defenceman — raised three sons on the Left Coast after retiring as a Vancouver Canuck.

Tuesday in Cranbrook, he sat and watched as all three suited up in a Western Hockey League game.

Max, 18, did what he does, a plus-1 despite being pointless. His on-ice smarts is why dad’s Flames drafted him in the third round this summer.

Griffin — six-foot-four at age 16, the monster of the family — scored the Oil Kings’ lone goal, his second as a junior. Though he was minus-3 on the night he remains the kingpin of the King’s future.

Then comes Sam, who bangs home the winner on his first call-up to the Dub as midget-aged player. The kid doesn’t turn 15 until November.

Mom probably couldn’t look.

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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