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GAME STORY: Oilers Rookies 3, Jets Rookies 0

Stuart Skinner posted a shutout, while Chad Butcher, Joe Gambardella and Luke Coleman scored to lift the Oilers 3-0 past the Jets

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

PENTICTON, BC -- Goaltender Stuart Skinner said he was living his dream Saturday morning but he was far from asleep against the Winnipeg Jets rookies later in the day.

The goaltender stayed woke, making big save after big save and stopping 26 shots to backstop the Oilers to a 3-0 win as Edmonton improved to 2-0-0 at the 2017 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.

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The Oilers Rookies play again Monday here in Penticton against the Vancouver Canucks Rookies. Puck drop is 3:00 p.m. MDT.

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"I'm always living the dream hanging out with these guys," Skinner said after his teammates gave him a rousing applause in the dressing room. "Just having the Oilers jersey on and every time I go on the ice, I'm living the dream."

Luke Coleman, Chad Butcher and Joe Gambardella were the goal scorers, and Evan Polei served as the energizer. He dished two crushing checks in the opening shift to set the tempo for the rest of the game.

"All the coaches tell me that's how I need to play," Polei said. "It gives other guys confidence on the ice, gives them energy and that's the role I need to play."

But Skinner, who posted the goose egg and made several brilliant saves, was the backbone of the victory.

"He made some timely saves for us at critical points of the game," said Head Coach Gerry Fleming. "Any time there was any situation where we were scrambling a little bit in our zone he killed the play which allowed us to take a breath and regroup."

The Oilers fired 38 shots on Jets netminder Jamie Phillips, killed every penalty they were handed and at the end of the day, got the job done.

"I thought it was a good game," said Fleming. "I thought our forecheck and positioning was good tonight, and I thought guys competed again tonight."

Video: HIGHLIGHTS | Oilers 3, Jets 0

It started at drop of the puck with Polei's massive hits.

From there, it was all Oilers in the first half of the opening frame. Edmonton out-shot the Jets 6-1 at one point and was finally rewarded when Coleman scored at 6:50.

Brandon Saigeon wrapped the puck around the net, with his attempt hitting Phillips' left pad and kicking out to Coleman at the top of the key. He made no mistake, splitting the biscuit through the netminder's wickets.

Winnipeg would wake up, though, and Oilers keeper Skinner was forced to make some big saves, including what could be the save of the tournament.

With the Jets circling around the Oilers zone, a wide-open Skyler McKenzie was fed on the doorstep. Skinner stretched to his left, making an amazing glove save to keep Edmonton up by one. He ended the period with 10 saves.

"I'm feeling really good," said Skinner about his many stops. "I can't get too high, I can't get too low."

The Jets flipped the script in the second period, jumping out the gate with plenty of energy despite starting the period down a man. 

After the Jets killed a Cristiano DiGiacinto penalty, Davis Koch was called for interference. The Jets did work on the ensuing power play, barraging Skinner with point shots, bodies in front and scrums. The Oilers netminder, who was clearly feeling it, stopped everything that came at him, allowing Edmonton to tilt the ice the other way with a goal by Butcher.

The tournament's leading scorer - after his three-point effort against Calgary - skated into the Jets' zone with linemates Gambardella and Kirill Maksimov joining. The three worked the puck down to Winnipeg's net, where a fortunate pass from Butcher hit a Jets defenceman's skate and bounced right back to him. Butcher slammed the puck past Phillips for an easy goal to give the Oilers a two-goal lead, despite being outshot in the period 8-3 at one point. 

Gambardella later added an unassisted marker with less than two minuts to play in the game.

"I was very privileged to be put with these two guys (Maksimov and Butcher)," said Gambardella. "I thought we did a really good job of getting the puck down low and just wearing and tearing on their D."

The Oilers play the Vancouver Canucks rookies on Monday at 3 PM MDT. Watch the game live on EdmontonOilers.com.

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