EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oil Kings made it tougher on themselves than necessary Wednesday by not being able to convert more scoring opportunities.
However, defenceman Griffin Reinhart made certain the Oil Kings skated away with a deserved victory, blowing a shot past Moose Jaw Warriors goaltender Luke Siemens with 1:32 left in the third period to give his team a 2-1 win.
It was Reinhart’s second goal of the contest, scoring on a similar bomb in the second period.
“We needed more shots with traffic in front of the net,” Reinhart said. “The two goals we did get, there was a lot of traffic in front of the net.
“We knew we were playing well, we just wanted to keep playing a simple game, get shots through and don’t get outworked.
“Everybody had to win their individual battles and we knew we would get the job done in the end.”
The Warriors went into the contest banged up, missing one of their top defencemen in Joel Edmundson and their best forward Quinton Howden, a Florida Panthers first-round pick in 2010.
Howden, 19, has not played a game for the Warriors having suffered a concussion at the Panthers training camp in September.
The Oil Kings made the most of their absence and jumped all over the Warriors in the first period, outshooting the visitors 18-5 in the frame.
Despite the territorial advantage, the Oilers were unable to beat Siemens, who was outstanding on the night, earning second-star honours.
“I thought our guys responded well from Friday night, I thought we had a lot more energy as a team here, and it was a pretty tight game,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “I thought we had a lot of chances on the power play, but I thought their goaltender played really well throughout the entire game.
“But I thought at the end of the day, our guys really hung in there, it was a great defensive effort on our part.”
The Oil Kings went on to out-shoot the Warriors 42-18 in the contest.
The Oil Kings kept the pressure on in the second period, spurred on in large part by the Warriors constant parade to the penalty box.
However, it was the visitors who scored first as Jordan Wyton re-directed a pass from in tight past Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit.
The Oil Kings were eventually able to beat Siemens as Reinhart stepped into a point-shot on the power play and blew it past the Warriors goaltender.
It was the only goal the Oil Kings would score in the frame, despite getting five power-play opportunities.
In the third, the home side kept up the pressure and where eventually rewarded for it with Reinhart’s second goal.
“We hung in there and put some pucks on net,” Laxdal said. “We didn’t get a lot of traffic against Siemens and we didn’t get to those tough areas. They have a big strong defence that block out those lanes, so we have to make sure we get there. But you have to give Griffin Reinhart credit, two bombs there showed why he’s going to be a first-round pick this year.”
With the win the Oil Kings improved their record to 7-3-2 this season, which lifted them into a first-place tie with the Kootenay Ice and the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL Central Division standings.