The last two years have been like a ride at an amusement park for Ryan O’Marra.
Except the Edmonton Oilers centre hasn’t been amused.
“I think ‘roller-coaster’ would be an understatement as to how my first couple years went,” he said, describing the emotions of getting called up and sent back down in each of the last two seasons.
Returning this week in the wake of Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff’s knee injury, O’Marra led the Oklahoma City Barons with a plus-11 rating playing on the top line with Linus Omark and Liam Reddox.
While his linemates both had 13 goals, O’Mara was the playmaker with 13 assists and one goal in 22 games.
“Our games are polar opposites but it seems to be working,” the centre said of Omark. “And with Reddox’s speed down there, it pushes defences back, gives (Omark) space to dangle and I’m just keeping the puck up for him and creating open ice with physicality.
“It’s a real interesting study in contrast between the three of us.”
O’Marra can only hope to carve out a similar spot with the Oilers this time around.
“It’s an important lesson for everybody,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “Certainly Ryan has stuck with it, there’s no question about that. For two years in a row now, I’ve sat in with him and told him he’s going to the farm team and in both circumstances he handled it extremely well.
“Not that he wanted to go, not that he was happy with it, but he was very professional and sounded very driven to get himself to the National Hockey League one way or another. This might be the other, but he’s here and he has to make the best of his opportunity, too.”
It was the opposite exit taken by Omark, who publicly voiced his displeasure of being sent down at the end of preseason.
“I don’t think he was the only one, I think everyone who got sent down that last day had that fire in their eyes. He was slightly more vocal about it,” O’Marra said. “I guess that’s his prerogative.”
HALL OF A SCARE: Time stopped for Renney, who watched his No. 1 draft pick collide with goalie Nikolai Khabibulin during a shootout drill at the end of Thursday’s practice.
Hall dangled the puck and scored, but ended up following it into the net — but not before flattening his goalie.
“Khabi’s fine, Hallsy’s embarrassed,” said Renney, adding his heart skipped a beat for a second there. “He hit our No. 1 goaltender. He did a great move, deked around him and I hope to see it again (Friday) night. Not against us.”
Renney said he is going with Khabibulin in net Friday.
HORCOFF OFF: Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff will not require surgery to repair a torn MCL, but will undergo physiotherapy for the next two months
“It’s pretty much what we described,” Renney said. “They’re going to immobilize it for the first 10 or 12 days of absolutely nothing and then they’re going to do their thing.”