The Swift Current Broncos controlled the first few minutes of the hockey game last night. The Edmonton Oil Kings controlled all the rest.
As a result, the Oil Kings continued their surge toward serious Western Hockey League contention with a 3-1 victory, watched by less than half the “official attendance” of more than 3,100.
The terrible weather conditions that kept the crowd to a minimum also reduced the Oil Kings’ effectiveness. “We didn’t want them on the roads today so we didn’t have our regular game-day morning,” head coach Derek Laxdal explained.
But, after a first period lacking in focus and timing, Edmonton was much the better team.
Goals by Dylan Wruck and Mike Piluso in the second and Braeden Laroque in the third erased the early Swift Current lead built on Adam Lowry’s goal only 13 seconds after Edmonton defender Ryan Dech was banished for high-sticking.
Wruck’s tying goal was a key. “All I did was go to the net with my stick on the net so Jordan (linemate Hickmott) could hit me with a pass.
“We’re coming up with some pretty good chemistry,” said the 18-year-old Saskatoon product, who looks forward to playing a game at home before family and friends before annual WHL Christmas layoff.
Midway through the opening period, veteran Adrian Van de Mosselaer was tossed for a heavy check that put top Broncos forward Brad Hoban out for the night. “I didn’t think it was boarding,” said Laxdal, “because I didn’t think the check came from behind.”
He praised his penalty-killers for avoiding a potential two- or three-goal deficit early in the game. “If you kill the first two minutes or so and get the other team scrambling, you can come out of it all right.”
Which is exactly what happened. If not for Mark Friesen’s stellar 35-stop netminding, Edmonton’s margin of victory would have been much larger.