SUN Hockey Pool

Ex-Oiler finds Foster home

Devils Ilya Kovalchuk (left to right), Kurtis Foster, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise celebrate their...

Devils Ilya Kovalchuk (left to right), Kurtis Foster, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise celebrate their overtime goal while Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid reacts at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Jan. 11, 2012. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:21 AM ET

EDMONTON - Kurtis Foster made his return to Rexall Place on Wednesday, but not in the colours he was originally traded away to.

The former Edmonton Oilers defenceman was back as a member of the New Jersey Devils, having been moved by the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season.

“It’s been good here in Jersey,” said Foster. “The season didn’t go the way I wanted in Anaheim. Missing training camp and preseason was always tough with the injury I had, and I kind of got behind the eight ball. But New Jersey gave me a chance to play and that’s all I can ask for.”

Foster spent last year with the Oilers but was traded this off-season for Andy Sutton.

Foster had to have surgery prior to training camp to remove a wire — originally put in place after breaking his leg during an icing race — that was causing inflammation of his knee.

Foster played just nine games for the Ducks before being traded to the Devils in December.

“Having to have surgery and get the wire out wasn’t the greatest start, the day before training camp,” he said. “But I got traded to Jersey and I was pretty excited and the guys I get to play with are pretty amazing. It’s a lot of fun and it’s definitely nice winning some games, too, it makes it easier coming to the rink every day ready to play.”

Last season, Foster scored eight goals and added 14 assists in 74 games with the Oilers.

“It’s nice to be back, you don’t really realize the memories you had until you come back,” Foster said. “I was only here for one year but there are a lot of guys that I miss and a lot of good times that I miss, too. It was a good bunch of guys.”

MINOR HOCKEY MEMORIES

Darcy Hordichuk has fond memories of his minor hockey days in Kamsack, Sask.

Being from a small town, the Oilers forward spent a lot of time on the road.

“The highlights were going to places like Yorkton where they had a McDonalds and they had a waterslide in the hotel,” Hordichuk said. “It doesn’t sound like much when you grow up in a city, but as a small-town kid, that’s a highlight.

“You finally get to eat at a McDonalds and those are memories that I still cherish to this day. That and hanging out with my friends in the hotel.”

Edmonton’s version of Minor Hockey Week kicks off Friday with over 500 teams taking part in the 10-day event.

“We’d always have to travel to play being from Kamsack,” Hordichuk said. “Sometimes we would go to towns where they would have two or three girls on the team. Then we would get harassed by our parents because the girls put us on our butts. That motivated us to try and get tougher and stronger on our skates because we couldn’t let that happen to us.”

EMERGENCY CALL-UP

The Edmonton Oilers had to go to Stockton, Calif., for a reinforcement after Ryan O’Marra woke up sick Wednesday morning.

With not enough time to put the call out to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City, the Oilers put in the call to their ECHL affiliate and brought up Milan Kytnar.

The Slovakian native was the club’s fifth choice, 127th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

“We’ve had him for three camps now and I think he’s a very smart player,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He sees the ice well, he’s very responsible. Generally speaking he has NHL attributes, but at the end of the day, he has to crack Oak City before he can crack here. But this is a good opportunity for him.”

ROOKIE CHALLENGE

Wednesday should have been a showdown between the two of the top rookies in the NHL.

However with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out injured, Devils first-year centre Adam Henrique had the spotlight to himself.

Henrique, 21, went into the contest a point back of Nugent-Hopkins in the scoring race.

“I like the guy we got,” smiled Renney, prior to the contest. “But I think Adam is a really, really good player. I like the way the way he navigates the game and the intensity he plays with and his work habits. He seems to know and understand both sides of the puck. I think he’s plus-nine, which is pretty impressive. He’s a very good young player and maybe he’ll get sick this afternoon.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


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