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GAME STORY: Oilers Rookies 4, Flames Rookies 2

The Oilers rookies defeated the Flames rookies 4-2 in the Young Stars Classic opener

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

PENTICTON, BC -- Three quick third period strikes were the difference as the Oilers beat the Flames rookies 4-2 in the first game of the 2017 Young Stars Classic.

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The Oilers Rookies play again tomorrow night here in Penticton against the Winnipeg Jets Rookies. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. MDT.

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It was Edmonton's second line - consisting of Chad Butcher, Kirill Maksimov and Davis Koch - that got to work against Calgary. The trio combined for seven points on the night, with Butcher registering two goals and an assist, Maksimov recording a goal and assist, and Koch chipping in with two helpers of his own.

"They definitely had an impact on the game," said Head Coach Gerry Fleming. "They brought a lot of energy and their compete level was high tonight so it was nice to see them get rewarded with points."

Dylan Wells was solid in net, making 26 saves on 28 shots and keeping the Oilers penalty kill perfect.

"The guys in front of me really prevented a lot of shots; they didn't really have too many grade A scoring chances," said Wells post-game. "We went down there late in the second but I don't think there was a single guy in this room that doubted we could come back."

Ryan Mantha registered two assists in the win, all the while forming some sound communication with Wells and defence partner Caleb Jones.

"I think we had great communication back there," said Wells. "I was trying my best to be vocal with my Dmen, I find that's something that helps me with my game. Everybody was communicating well all game."

The Oilers and Flames skated out to a high-paced, tight affair in the opening period, which saw the teams trade two consecutive power plays to one another. Edmonton got opportunities from penalties to Rasmus Andersson and Spencer Foo, while Calgary got man-advantages from two Maksimov tripping minors.

Tyler Parsons and Wells were up to the task on each occasion. Parsons made saves on Mantha and Kailer Yamamoto - off a Mantha one-timer from the point and then again as Yamamoto tried to thread a pass across to Gambardella that brushed through the crease. Wells, meanwhile snared a hot one-timer to keep things even.

The goalie duel would open up in the second period when Flames 2017 first-rounder Jusso Valimaki started the scoring with a wrister from just inside the blueline.

The Oilers would counter, though, as Butcher finally got one on the power play for Edmonton. He found a loose puck at the side of the net and was able to tuck it under the back bar past Parsons.

Mark Jankowski would later score with just minutes remaining in the second to give the Flames a 2-1 lead, despite the game still remaining very even.

That all changed in the third period. 

Less than two minutes into the final frame, Maksimov made a great heads-up pass to Butcher just before taking a hit. The feed sprung Butcher all alone on Parsons and the centre went shelf to tie the game up at two. 

"That's a great play," said Butcher. "I kind of figured that if the puck was rimmed up the wall I could turn it up and get sprung there."

Butcher hopes the chemistry on the second line can continue for the remainder of the tournament.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "Tonight we obviously had some good chemistry, moved the puck around well and were finding each other. I hope we can keep it going."

Evan Polei got on the board after he tipped a Mantha point shot, giving the Oilers the lead for the first time of the night. The top pairing of Mantha and Jones got the helpers as they moved the puck across the blueline just before. 

Maksimov's quick rip, not even a minute later, provided Edmonton with the insurance they would need to close out the victory.

"We just kept things simple," said Fleming. "The greatest players in the world keep their games simple and execute simple plays consistently all the time and that's what we tried to do."

The Oilers play the Winnipeg Jets rookies tomorrow at 8:30 PM MT.

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