PENTICTON, B.C. – It was all business on the ice this morning as the Oilers Rookies prepare to take on the Flames Rookies in game two of the Young Stars Classic.
Last year, Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl helped carry the Oilers Rookies to a comeback victory over the Flames when he gave the rookies their first lead of the night on a penalty shot in the third, leading to an eventual 6-3 comeback win over Calgary.
The Battle of Alberta may have been relocated, but the age-old rivalry continues.
BRINGING THE PHYSICAL EDGE
The Oilers Rookies may have had very little time to celebrate their 4-1 victory over the Canucks Rookies, but Oilers forward prospect Greg Chase said he feels it helped shake off the off-season cobwebs for everyone.
“It was a long day on Thursday [with fitness testing] and with the flight, it made for a long day coming into Penticton,” he said. “But we came out and had a good pre-game skate, kind of gelled a little bit to start the game and things just kind of worked out and we found some chemistry on our lines and played the structure well and listened to the coaching staff and got a big win.”
The Calgary Flames, a towering team of rookies, is expected to bring a strong physical edge to the game, but Chase said it will likely be no different than what they faced last night with the Canucks.
“They got heavy a little bit during the first period and got better as the game went on but that’s part of the tournament, you’ve got to go through that adversity,” he said.
“It’s always a tough game when you play Calgary, I think. No matter if it’s at the NHL level or this level, every year I’ve been here it’s always been a tough game against them. We want to win every game that we’re in, doesn’t matter the size of the player, we’re going to go out there and work hard and use our physicality against them. I’m sure they’re a physical team but I think if we can get in on the forecheck, use our speed and get pucks to the net, create traffic, I think we’ll just be fine.”
THE VETERAN EQUATION
Participating in his fourth rookie camp, Chase isn’t alone in the veteran category as he takes the ice with forward linemates Kyle Platzer and Braden Christoffer.
“Two familiar faces for me, I played a lot with them last year, both of them, it’s nice to have that chemistry and knowing, going into a game, where guys are going to be on the ice, kind of have a feel for it,” said Chase.
As goes the expectation, many of the new prospects trying to navigate Rookie Camp for the first time tend to look up to the more experienced players for help.
“As a younger guy, you learn from the older guys and how they can conduct themselves on and off the ice,” said Platzer. “Myself and the older guys here should be the staple of that and lead the younger guys on the ice, show them how to play, keep it simple. Off the ice, act like a pro, all those little things that make people pros, it goes a long way for the young guys — I know it did for me — and I’m just trying to lead them.”
Though Platzer admits that it was tough to get the legs going last night, he feels fresher today and feels confident in the expectations he and his linemates have for tonight’s provincial contest.
“Chaser and I and Christo[ffer], we know what our role is tonight, we’ve got to lead this team offensively, defensively, it’s going to be a battle for us,” said Platzer. “But I enjoy that challenge and I enjoy that pressure and I think that’s what brings out the best in us.” WELLS GETS THE GREEN LIGHT
Last night, Oilers goaltending prospect Dylan Wells was able to take in the sights and sounds of last night’s game as his teammate, Nick Ellis, took the starting position between the pipes against the Canucks Rookies.
“I thought that he competed well yesterday,” said Bakersfield Condors Head Coach Gerry Fleming. “He was square to the puck, he made himself big to shooters, he didn’t allow many second opportunities, which is huge and I think when we got running around a little bit in the [defensive] zone coverage, he settled things down by just freezing the puck and killing the play.”
Tonight, Wells will have his first start of the tournament.
“It’s fast, it’s really fast,” he said. “I’m really excited to get in there. Just watching the game last night, it was kind of nice to get a feel for it and see how the game runs and I think Nick had a very good performance last night so it’s going to be fun trying to follow that up.”
With Jesse Puljujarvi getting a night off, the projected lines for tonight's game are:
OILERS TO WATCH: Jesse Puljujarvi had an impressive debut in an Oilers uniform on Friday with two goals and an assist to help lead Edmonton to a 4-1 win over the Canucks Rookies. ... Markus Niemelainen also scored for Edmonton and looked very good in doing so from the blueline. ... Former Penticton Vee Joey Benik had a solid game in front of his former home crowd with a goal and an assist on Friday.
FLAMES TO WATCH: Andrew Mangiapane built off his impressive OHL season where he had 51 goals and 106 points in 59 games for the Barrie Colts by netting a goal and assist on Friday against the Jets Rookies. ... 2016 sixth-overall selection Matthew Tkachuk didn't score Friday but did rack up 16 penalty minutes. Tkachuk scored in overtime in the deciding game to help lead the London Knights to the Memorial Cup back in May.