Congratulations to the Oil Kings on a Excellent Second Season!
/ Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oil Kings salute the Rexall Place crowd following Wednesday's final game of the season (photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings)
The Edmonton Oil Kings successful second season came to an end Wednesday night after a season filled with many milestones and accomplishments.
The Oil Kings showed a lot of heart and determination against the power house Calgary Hitmen in their first WHL playoff series in modern franchise history, but they fell 4-1 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series as Calgary won the series 4-0.
The loud and boisterous crowd of 6,387 fans cheered on the Oil Kings during Game 4 showed their appreciation by chanting 'Lets go Oil Kings' for the final five minutes. It capped off a wonderful season and the entire team showed their respect as they raised their sticks to fans in appreciation.
For Oil Kings co-captains Jeff Lee and Brenden Dowd and alternate captain Brandon Lockerby, the loss marks the end of their WHL careers.
"I take so much pride in that for those guys. I think they've done a great job sacrificing themselves and getting this program to take the first step on the road to a championship," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau
Oil Kings forward Brent Raedeke gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 first period lead, but the Hitmen scored four unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes to eliminate the Oil Kings from the 2008-09 playoffs.
Torrie Jung capped off a magnificent playoffs making 39 saves in the loss, while Martin Jones made 19 in the win.
Jung's impact with the Oil Kings has proven to be invaluable and he showed that throughout the regular season and as they battled their way into the playoffs. Jung made 166 saves in the four game series.
"It's huge (the playoff experience). Coming into this team in late October, I am hearing things like 'oh you guys don't have a chance'. Guys around the league didn't expect us to come close, but all year we battled through adversity and won a lot of games we shouldn't have won and we hung in there with a lot of teams," said Jung. "I am extremely proud of this team. There are a lot of positives we can take out of this series. They are the No.1 team in the CHL and we showed signs of competing with them."
Edmonton was considered a massive underdog coming into their playoff series with the Hitmen, but they proved in a lot of ways they were a playoff team and despite losing four straight games, the pushed the Hitmen to their limits in every game of the series.
The Oil Kings first playoff series will pay big dividends in building the foundation for the young organization.
"I can't measure it, but you can't gain experience without playing. Not only for them, but for me, it's great for everybody," added Pleau.
For Lee, Dowd and Lockerby, it was an emotional ending to their WHL careers.
The trio of Oil Kings veterans played their final two seasons with class and dignity. All three were leaders in their own right, and all wore letters on their jerseys.
Lee and Dowd will finish their WHL career holding the franchise record for points in a regular season with 62 each. Lockerby will hold the franchise record for points by defenceman in a single season with 35 points. Lockerby also scored the first goal in modern franchise history last season.
"You have to give a big shout out to Dowd, Leroy (Lee) and Locks (Lockerby)," said Breitkreuz.
"Those guys have been here since the beginning and they've seen us come from an expansion team to a playoff team and they've helped mold us into the team we've become."