March 1, 2011
Oil Kings humble Hitmen
By CRASH CAMERON, QMI Agency
Michael St. Croix got an assist to move his point-scoring streak to eight games.
But the Edmonton Oil Kings didn't need their big guns Monday in a 7-1 knockout of the Calgary Hitmen.
Not when the pencilled-in fourth line stakes you to a 3-0 lead.
"We've had a few shifts together in the past," said Klarc Wilson of skating with Stephane Legault and Mark Reners.
"We started off so good, they just kept us together. I got that goal on our first shift and things just kept going from there.
"We were finding each other and just had that good chemistry," said Wilson, who added an assist on Reners' first of two.
"That's what the coaches say: ‘Get pucks on net and good things will happen.' "
And the head coach was pleased.
"That line was our best line tonight, for sure," said Derek Laxdal.
The fourth line got things rolling by helping themselves.
Two goals on 10 shots had the Oil Kings up 2-0 in the first, and both goals were unassisted mirror images of each other. At 3:21 Wilson took it from the boards, turned and fired from his off-wing, then Legault did the same from the other side at 14:04.
That sent Hitmen's starting goalie Brandon Glover out and brought Michael Snider into the game, and the veteran settled things down — for the rest of the period, at least.
Reners made it three for the fourth line when he jumped on a loose puck in front of the Calgary net, off a play that started as a delayed penalty in the Oil Kings zone.
By then it was all but over. Reners added his second to make it five, Mike Piluso tallied the sixth and Dylan Wruck got his team-leading (and team record) 35th of the season to cap it. Keegan Lowe had two assist from the blue line and took the team lead at plus-31.
A deflection floating up and over Kings goalie Laurent Brossoit broke his shutout.
"In a game like this, it's tough," said Laxdal. "Calgary is down and out and missing four or five of their key guys. So it can be tough, mentally, to focus our group and I thought the guys did a really good job of coming out, establishing a lead and sticking to a game plan."
The tables have turned dramatically this season for the Dub's Battle of Alberta. The big, bad Hitmen beat up on the new boys to the north during the first three seasons of the rivalry.
The weather outside was closer to the South Pole than South Africa but it was vuvuzela night at Rexall Place as 500 of the 7,000 on hand were given the plastic honkers made famous at soccer's World Cup this summer.
But this might as well have been Spain vs. Canada, as competitive as the game was.
"In the third period, when you're up like that, it can be hard to push the kids, so we just put everybody out on the power play and penalty kill and give everybody some experience with those.
"And you don't want to be embarrassing those guys. They're junior-aged kids playing on national television."
But you still want to beat them.