When the Edmonton Oil Kings came back from being down 2-0 early to eventually take game three of the WHL final by a score of 3-2, it showed quite the resiliency. With Portland seemingly on the attack, the Oil Kings didn’t backdown and eventually pushed back, controlling the pace of the second period and scoring three-unanswered goals in the game to beat Portland.
It was a surprise in last night’s post-game press conference when the players and coach said it was the backup goaltender who had an impact on the game, without even seeing one minute of ice time.
“What wasn’t he doing? I guess that’s the real question,” Curtis Lazar said of goaltender Tyler Santos. “Just to see what he’s been able to do this season in his role, he’s always out there, he doesn’t always get the ice time he deserves but he’s the emotional leader on the bench just keeping us positive, chirping the other team, getting that mental edge and having fun with it. It was really neat to see. He brought us all together but he also allowed us to relax and just have some fun out there.”
Santos has played just 13 games this season for Edmonton and none in the playoffs. But his presence was felt on the Oil Kings bench last night as Santos cheered on the team, provided motivation and energy to his teammates. This isn’t anything new for Santos, who head coach Derek Laxdal says has been a great teammate longer than just last night.
“I actually brought him in the other day, two days ago, and we just talked about how great of a teammate he’s been,” Laxdal said. “He hasn’t played a lot for us this year and he comes in the dressing room every morning, he’s positive, he’s ready to go and the practice that he puts in. He’s out there scrimmaging every day with the black aces and finding his way. Here’s a kid that’s been a great soldier for us and a great teammate, a positive vibe in our dressing room and he’s been great on our bench. It’s good to see him get a little bit of love last night from the guys.”
Being the backup can be a tough pill to swallow. Obviously you’d like to be on the ice and helping your teammates but Santos has found a different way to be involved and help the Oil Kings win games.
“It’s not an easy role being back up and not getting many touches,” Laxdal said. “Obviously the ride and the experience that he’s experiencing right now, I’m sure he’s enjoying it but you have to have that glue, you have to have that type of character in your dressing room and he’s been a big part of that.”