PENTICTON, BC -- The Oilers rookies are fresh off their first win at the 2017 Young Stars Classic, defeating the Calgary Flames rookies 4-2 on Friday after a three-goal third-period flurry. On Saturday, the prospects will face the Winnipeg Jets, who were beaten 4-2 by the Vancouver Canucks in their first game of the tournament.
"A few tweaks, obviously," said Head Coach Gerry Fleming. "This is a different team and different challenge but we're going to stick to the same formula that we did last night pretty much."
Chad Butcher's three-point effort (2G, 1A) propelled him into the scoring lead in the tournament, with the second line fuelling much of the offence. That hot line of Davis Koch, Butcher and Kirill Maksimov will see a minor tweak against the Jets. Koch will centre the third line, while Butcher and Maksimov will be flanked by Joseph Gambardella.
"We got Joe on our line and we know he's a great player," said Butcher. "He's got a lot of experience and he's a little older so hopefully we can learn a few things from him."
Edmonton will give forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Austin Glover and Ostap Safin a rest. On the backend, they will be without Caleb Jones, Ziyat Paigin and Ryan Mantha. Dylan Wells will also not dress.
In their absence, invites Luke Coleman, Ethan Szypula and Grayson Pawlenchuk will dress up front. Liam Schioler, Austin Strand and Sahvan Khaira will replace the defencemen. Netminders Stuart Skinner and Shane Starrett will also be in the lineup.
The five new invites taking to the ice tonight will simply set out to prove why they were invited by Oilers management to the tournament in the first place.
"Whatever they saw during your season that made them want you here, do that," said Sahvan, brother to Oilers forward Jujhar.
"Consistency is key."
SKINNER GETS THE NOD
For netminder Skinner, donning the Oilers silks as the starting goalie will be a dream come true.
"I remember right when I walked in and I saw the jersey - not the practice jersey, the game jersey - I got butterflies," said Skinner following the morning skate. "It was definitely just a surreal moment for me. This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and I'm really excited."
Skinner will attempt to implement some sound communication with his defence, something Wells established in Friday's tilt.
"The coaching staff and us players, we built a system to know what to say to me when I'm out there playing the puck and I know what to say to them when they're in difficult situations," he said. "We all have this bond in here where we're OK to talk to each other… we're good friends in here."
Skinner got a front row view of the game against Calgary as the backup behind Wells, getting some of the early jitters out of the way. Although, there were times when he did get caught up in the moment.
"I was so into it sometimes that I couldn't get the bench for the guys," he said.