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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers Rookies vs. Flames Rookies

The Battle of Alberta heads to Red Deer as the Oilers Rookies face the Flames Rookies at the Westerner Park Centrium

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers Rookies face the Calgary Flames Rookies at Westerner Park Centrium in Red Deer.

You can watch the game on EdmontonOilers.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Read the Preview then check back following morning skate for the Morning Skate Report.

Video: OILERS TODAY | vs Flames Rookies 09.07.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from the Oilers Rookie Camp, including a written and video feature on Cooper Marody's singing and songwriting.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - Oil Country: Hockey has arrived.

And what better hockey than the Battle of Alberta type, as the Oilers Rookies will face off against the Flames Rookies on neutral territory at the Westerner Park Centrium in Red Deer, AB.

Saturday's tune-up marks the first unofficial puck drop of the season and the enthusiasm from the rookies and coaches is palpable. 

"It's very exciting," said Ryan McLeod, who is expected to centre a line with Nolan Vesey and Kirill Maksimov. 

"You kind of get antsy and kind of bored just doing drills and practicing all summer. It's good to get back into it."

It's the first instance of game action for the rookies, allowing them an opportunity to showcase the work they had put in this past summer. Many players, like McLeod, want to get the year going on the right foot. That begins tonight.

"Obviously, this sets the tone for the year and gets your name out there for Camp," said the 2018 second-round selection. 

"I'm looking forward to it."

TURF WAR

It may only be a rookie game but the Battle always intensifies in neutral turf. Players and coaches are expecting an energetic crowd comprised of fans from both sides of the Albertan spectrum.

"I remember last year the crowd was unreal," said keeper Dylan Wells, who will split goaltending duties with Stuart Skinner. 

"Calgary-Edmonton is a pretty heated rivalry no matter what level it's at. Whether it's the NHL guys playing, the AHL or us rookies. It's still the Battle of Alberta, just the younger guys. I expect the crowd to be awesome there."

In 2018's rookie showdown in Red Deer, the Flames Rookies doubled up on the Oilers Rookies with a 6-3 victory. Edmonton erased Calgary's 3-0 lead but Adam Ruzicka's breakaway marker gave Calgary the go-ahead goal and the club never looked back.

"Last time we were in there, it was a mid-week game and the atmosphere was electric," said coach Woodcroft.

"I'm very excited to see the Battle of Alberta in some capacity in their building. This isn't April, May or June but this is our rival. This is our in-province rival. These games are important to these kids to make sure that they leave an impression on everyone."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Woodcroft 09.07.19

BLUELINE SHINE

The Oilers lineup will feature plenty of firepower up front and on the blueline. Prospects Evan Bouchard and Dmitri Samorukov, after jostling countless times as competitors in the Ontario Hockey League last season, will partner up on the back end. 

"We want to develop a little bit of chemistry," said Woodcroft.

Bouchard and Samorukov are multifaceted defenders capable of scoring, defending and transporting the puck. Woodcroft was quick to list the reasons why they could form a strong tandem. 

"They're both big. They came into Camp in excellent shape. They're a threat at the offensive end. They're big and a strong and close quick in the defensive end. It's not their first Rookie Camp, either.

"They're two high-end prospects for our organization."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | McLeod 09.07.19

LINEUP NOTES

As aforementioned, Wells and Skinner are expected to split netminding duties. It's something both players are used to after sharing the crease as backup goalies in Bakersfield in '18-19.

"We're really close," said Wells. "I'm Looking forward to cheering him on."

Up front, Cameron Hebig will employ the right wing on the top line with Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody.

"Cameron Hebig had a pretty good rookie season last year I think," said Woodcroft. "We're looking for them to give us a little bit of leadership heading into this game tonight and help settle some of the nerves for the first-year players."

The club's second line of Vesey-McLeod-Maksimov could form a lethal offensive threat given the trio's ability to skate, shoot and grind.

"McLeod, he flies through the middle of the rink," said the Oilers Rookies bench boss. "Maksimov shoots the puck hard and is also a good skater. We wanted to match them up with a worker bee that left a good impression on us in Bakersfield in Vesey."

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Lines at morning skate appeared to be:

Benson - Marody - Hebig
Vesey - McLeod - Maksimov
Safin - Iacobellis - Lavoie
Keeler - Starrett - Stukel

Samorukov - Bouchard
Cap - Day 
De Jong - Desharnais

Wells
Skinner

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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