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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers Rookies at Flames Rookies

The prospects travel south for a Battle of Alberta showdown in Calgary

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers Rookies head to Calgary for a Battle of Alberta rematch at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday. 

You can watch the game live on EdmontonOilers.com starting at 6:00 p.m. MT.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game at CGY 09.20.21

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Oilers Rookie Camp, including a piece on 2021 sixth-round draft selection Matvey Petrov, who is learning the English language and loving every minute of his North America adventure.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - All aboard!

The bus is loaded for the first unofficial road game of the 2021-22 season as the Oilers prospects packed their bags and trekked down Highway 2 for a rematch of the Battle of Alberta.

In Saturday's meeting at Rogers Place, Calgary got the offence rolling right off the hop, taking a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the match after Walker Duehr and Ryan Francis struck 21 seconds apart. The visiting side clutched a 3-1 lead in the middle stanza but as the Oilers Rookies gained their legs, they began to take over. 

The Orange & Blue ultimately overcame the deficit and capped the night with a 4-3 come-from-behind triumph.

"The start of the game was kind of crazy. It was a physical game," winger Ostap Safin, who helped set up Henry Rybinski's two power-play goals, said. "Everybody was ready for a war and a battle. We did a good job to handle that pressure at the start and then in the second and third periods, we were a better team."

Bakersfield Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft and his staff referenced the opening frame of the match in their video sessions and devised a game plan to counter the Flames' punishing pressure.

"We spent yesterday's practice talking a lot about breaking out versus heavy forechecks," Woodcroft, speaking from the Oilers Hall of Fame Room, said. "We expect to see some improvement in that area. For us, it's about what team is willing to play faster and what team's willing to put pucks into areas where they can get them back."

Video: PRE-RAW | Jay Woodcroft 09.20.21

KEEPER KONOVALOV

The net is yours, Ilya Konovalov.

At long last, Edmonton's third-round selection from the 2019 National Hockey League Draft will take his position in the blue paint on North American soil when the Oilers Rookies take to the ice at the Saddledome. Oil Country may be unfamiliar territory but the goalkeeper is well-aware of the Battle of Alberta's magnitude.

"It's a big thing in Edmonton and a big rivalry," Konovalov, speaking through Russian translator Safin, said. "In Yaroslav, there are no big rival games. Every game you have to prepare like it's a war because there are good opponents everywhere."

The 23-year-old has been the last line of defence for the Yaroslav Lokomotiv of the KHL over the past four years. In that time, he's amassed a 53-41-9 record, a .922 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average to go along with 14 shutouts as an undersized guardian at 5-foot-11.

"I'm not the biggest guy but there are goalies like (Carey) Price, (Juuse) Saros and (Anton) Khudobin who are not big guys but they are quick and make good saves. I'm that type of goalie," he said.

The goaltender persevered through a minor injury at Rookie Camp to get the nod in goal and considers his hockey IQ, positioning and quickness as the strengths of his game. Woodcroft has yet to see Konovalov suit up but did comment on the technical aspects of shorter netminders.

"There are goaltenders that are a little bit smaller and they play big," the coach said. "Our message to Ilya tonight is that it's not about where his height was measured during physicals. It's about playing to his strengths, relaxing in there, taking a deep breath and getting used to his first game action."

MAKE A MARK

Prospects hoping to attend the big ball, Oilers Main Camp, still have a chance to show their moves. 

A standalone performance in the final tune-up of Rookie Camp can certainly raise a skater's stock in the eyes of the Oilers management but that doesn't guarantee a golden ticket to the main event. 

Before extending the invites, Woodcroft is taking into account the player's complete body of work this week, from the medicals and fitness testing to the efforts administered on the ice.

"It's a great opportunity for players to make a statement about where they're at with their game. If they're able to continue to get better, as a young man, that's all you can ask for. That's what's on the table tonight, to make another impression."

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-RAW | Konovalov, Safin 09.20.21

Oilers Roster & Projected Lines

Lavoie - Hamblin - Bourgault
Petrov - Rybinski - Tullio
Safin - Englot - Kambeitz
Soderlund - Brosseau - Burns

Defence:

Broberg - Berglund
Kaldis - Kemp
Niemelainen - Kesselring
Kubicek 

Goal:

Konovalov
Rodrigue

Flames Roster & Projected Lines

Pospisil - Zary - Duehr
Pelletier - Nikolaev - Zavgorodniy
Emilio Pettersen - Francis - King
Ciona - Kerins - Huckins

Defence:

Solovyov - Kuznetsov
Poirier - Poolman
Whynot - Moro / Wilson

Goal:

Wolf

PREVIEW

OILERS ROOKIES at FLAMES ROOKIES

STREAM: 6:00 p.m. MT; Streamed on EdmontonOilers.com

Oilers Team Scope

The Oilers Rookies are in the hunt for two straight Battle of Alberta victories after overturning a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Flames Rookies 4-3 at Rogers Place on Saturday.

Following Sunday's practice, the team announced that defenceman Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw in Saturday's contest and will be on the shelf for six weeks. Head Coach Jay Woodcroft also confirmed that forward Jake Chiasson, selected 116th overall (Round 4) in the 2021 NHL Draft, will be sidelined for the remainder of Rookie Camp with an upper-body injury.

The past week has been a whirlwind for the hopefuls in Orange & Blue as they have had a full schedule since the ball got rolling on Camp, undergoing medicals, practices and matches. It's all designed to simulate life at the professional level, says Woodcroft.

"They feel good about winning that game but it was about showing up the next morning with the proper mindset. Sometimes that's not an easy thing when you're feeling sore but that's professional hockey, and that's what we want to expose these young kids to," the coach said.

Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Sunday Skate 09.19.21

Flames Team Scope

The Flames had a hot start in the previous BoA - tallying two goals 21 seconds apart in the opening five minutes - but were bested when Phil Kemp's third-period marker and second goal of the night lasted as the winner. In Calgary's corner, the mantra is to build off the flurry they caused early and maintain it.

"The first 10 minutes were great for us," Ryan Francis told Flames TV Host Brendan Parker. "We got to build off that. Hopefully, we can build off those first 10 minutes from last game and play a full 60 minutes tomorrow."

The Flames received offence from Walker Duehr, Martin Pospisil and Francis while 2019 seventh-round pick Dustin Wolf carried the load in goal. "The pace was up, the intensity was high. It was a good experience and hopefully, we'll be able to get them back tomorrow," Francis said.

By The Numbers

Camp invite Henry Rybinski led the Oilers with two goals and one assist on Saturday. ... Ostap Safin collected two assists. ... Raphael Lavoie averaged 0.88 points per game with Vasby IK of HockeyAllsvenskan in '20-21, registering 23 goals and 45 points in 51 outings. ... Ilya Konovalov posted a 9-7-2 record, 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL last season. ...

Flames 2019 first-rounder (26th overall) Jakob Pelletier put up 13 goals, 30 assists and 43 points for the Val-d'Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in '20-21. ... Calgary's 2020 fifth-rounder, Francis, scored 29 points in 17 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs last year. ... 2018 fourth-rounder Pospisil had 11 points in 14 contests with the Stockton Heat.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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