EDMONTON - Adrian Van de Mosselaer has already played more games than any other player in the modern-franchise history of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The latest one was his best.
The two-goal, one-assist game by the defenceman from Terrace, B.C., on Saturday night led the Oil Kings to a playoff-crucial 5-2 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
That gave him four goals and four assists with one game to go in the month of February.
What would be a great weekend total for Michael St. Croix is a great month for the backline bruiser.
Van de Mosselaer broke a 2-2 tie after two with a slap shot to beat the Broncos 3-2 on Feb. 13 in Swift Current.
But he took it to another level Saturday. St. Croix (now two points short of the franchise scoring lead after his goal and two helpers Saturday) hit Van de Mosselaer at his own blue-line late in the third and No. 2 took it all the way to the house to cap the 5-2 win.
But in the second, he made it 3-0 when he one-touched a Dylan Wruck cross-ice pass after pinching in tight.
The key was Van de Mosselaer did it all without sacrificing his main mission: taking care of his own end and chewing up the big minutes, especially with captain Mark Pysyk out for the game.
“Any time you lose a great D-man like Mark, you’ve got to be careful because of how many minutes you will be playing.
“At the same time, you’ve got to rely on the guys back there with you and I do have confidence in them. It’s a great thing as a D-corp that we were able to step up and win a game.”
It was a crucial two points in the Oil Kings’ playoff push with some tough two-game sets ahead against top dogs Saskatoon, Medicine Hat and Red Deer to close out the regular season.
Van de Mosselaer was part of the Oil Kings’ previous playoff push two seasons ago when the Kings squeaked in with an extra-game win.
But his view was a very different one. Out with a broken ankle, all he could do was offer support from the sidelines to the likes of then 16-year-old rookie Pysyk.
That was a team that wasn’t expected to do much as a second-year expansion team. This time around, this is where Van de Mosselaer wanted and expected to be in his final junior season.
“You do start to feel the room change, the intensity of the games — the excitement and thrill of going into the playoffs is there,” Van de Mosselaer said before Saturday’s game.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of positive changes,” he said of the team two years ago that followed up the unlikely playoff run with a terrible season.
‘Trying to build’
“You can’t take away anything that the organization was trying to build then, but the steps we’re making now are big strides and it’s exciting to be part of it as an older guy on this team. It’s exciting to see what the future can be for this team and that’s definitely a feeling you get in this room.”
For now, “you just do what you can, go out there and play your hardest, especially as a 20-year-old. This is my last year, so make the best of it and have a lot of fun.”