Evan Bouchard tallied the lone goal for the Oilers Rookies and Olivier Rodrigue made 40 saves in a 3-1 defeat to Calgary
EDMONTON, AB - The final curtain falls.
Goaltender Olivier Rodrigue made 40 stops on 42 shots and defenceman Evan Bouchard tallied the lone goal for the Oilers Rookies on the power-play early in the third period as they fell 3-1 in their final Rookie Camp tune-up at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
After two quick goals by the Flames Rookies inside the opening 10 minutes, Rodrigue settled into his first appearance this Rookie Camp in another closely-contested Battle of Alberta highlighted by goaltending.
"Even if you give up a bad goal, you have to move on and be ready for the next one," Rodrigue said. "The next one is always the most important, so even if I'm not happy with the first goal, I fight back and finish strong."
Bouchard cut the deficit four seconds into a third-period power-play opportunity with a wrist shot from the blue line that sparked a late fightback for the Oilers that ended to no avail.
"It's good to get some games in. You look forward to it all summer," Bouchard said. "It's not the way I personally wanted it to go as a whole, but there's definitely stuff to work on as you see in games like this."
After taking 61:04 for a goal in Red Deer four nights prior, the Flames broke the deadlock 36 seconds in when Glenn Gawdin lifted a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Rodrigue on the first shot of the contest.
Adam Ruzicka doubled the lead six minutes later in close to worsen the blow for the Oilers Rookies in the opening 10 minutes.
"When the puck drops, you have to be ready," Rodrigue said. "So there are no excuses. Next time I will be ready, and those goals make a difference in pro. I want to improve on that."
Tyler Benson kicked off the rough stuff after going in on a rebound that was smothered by Flames keeper Dustin Wolf, getting a facewash and a two-minute slashing penalty for his actions. Both Alberta sides finished 0-for-1 with the power play in the opening frame.
The Oilers got their best opportunity of the game at 11:01 of the second when a two-on-one sprung by Ostap Safin and Steven Iacobellis led to the latter pinging the crossbar after receiving the cross-ice feed.
Rodrigue dominated the conversation the rest of the frame, making a total of 18 stops in a scoreless second period with few chances going the way of the Oilers.
"I don't think we created much, so for us, we didn't get many stops on our forecheck to allow us to cycle their team in their end," Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. "As a result, it was pretty easy for them to break out."
A power-play drawn from good link-up play between Safin and Raphael Lavoie led to the Oilers Rookies getting one back after Bouchard placed a pin-point wrister top shelf from the blue line just four seconds into the man advantage. Beau Starrett would ink the assist from the faceoff dot.
it would be the first and only goal scored by Oilers Rookies across 120 minutes of total action.
"It was a power-play goal, too," Woodcroft said. "You never really know how these rookie games will play out. For us, it's not so much about the structure; it's about the kids trying to make an impression. We ask them to give us their effort and their will, and that was there."
Pulling the netminder late in the third period proved fruitless, as Matthew Phillips iced the game on an empty-netter with 44.7 seconds remaining to end Rookie Camp winless for the Oilers.
Prospects and coaches now look ahead to Thursday's beginning of Main Camp when play and expectation begins to ramp up with fitness testing and medicals at Rogers Place.
"As they progress towards Main Camp here, they progress with some new concepts and they put the work in," Woodcroft said. "Now it's about going out and showing it against men and professional hockey players."