- A three-goal first period provided the Oilers Rookies with enough cushion to withstand and late surge by the University of Alberta Golden Bears and take a 4-2 victory.
“I thought we had some good energy the first half of the game and then the Golden Bears cranked up their game,” Oilers Rookies Head Coach Todd Nelson said.
Kellen Jones opened up the scoring for the Oilers at 6:58 of the first period. Jones was assisted by Greg Chase and his twin brother Connor.
Kyle Platzer found Bogdan Yakimov in front of the Golden Bears net and the hulking 6-foot-5, 232-pound Russian centre found twine before sliding into the boards. Yakimov was assisted by his fellow Russian, Vladimir Tkachev. The two hooked up twice at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. Tkachev recorded an assist on each of Yakimov’s two goals over the weekend, once against Vancouver and again against Calgary (second assist). The goal at 8:45 gave the Oilers a two-goal lead.
“Three goals is good? Three goals is good but I need to keep going up and I hope I can keep scoring every game,” Yakimov said.
The Golden Bears almost cut the lead in half at 9:51, shorthanded. T.J. Foster’s shot snuck behind goaltender Laurent Brossoit but left the net before crossing the line. The Bears were awarded a penalty shot, but Brossoit stopped Jordan Hickmott’s attempt.
The Oilers increased their lead at 13:39. Jujhar Khaira connected with Travis Ewanyk on a beautiful pass from the corner and Ewanyk one-timed it from the top of the crease. Jordan Oesterle got the second assist for his work getting the puck in.
With 4:48 remaining in the first period, Leon Draisaitl picked off a pass at the blue line and went one-on-one with Kurtis Mucha. His five-hole attempt was shutdown by the Golden Bears goalie.
The Golden Bears broke the shutout at 17:29 of the first, courtesy of a 5-on-3 power play. Foster scored from the high slot, going top-shelf on Brossoit.
The second period saw significantly less scoring, none in fact, but the Oilers did have a scare with 1:29 remaining in the frame. Levko Koper had a breakaway on Brossoit but the Oilers goaltender turned him away to maintain the two-goal lead.
Much like he did in the first period, Draisaitl had a couple of scoring opportunities in the second. Draisaitl was the third-overall pick in this year’s draft.
Just under six minutes into the third period, Ewanyk had a chance to make it a three-goal lead with a wraparound attempt but it was stopped by Mucha.
Connor Jones may be the unsung hero of a third-period penalty kill, had it not been for what happened after he left the ice. Jones, who lost his stick during the University of Alberta power play, blocked two heavy shots. The Oilers got the puck back and Jones left the ice to applause.
“I wasn’t keeping track (of how many blocks) but I knew, once I lost my stick, I had to give him a little more space. Without a stick you have to just kind of settle in and eat pucks. Luckily, the guy kept hitting me and I think I let one or two through but I was pretty happy getting the win.”
However, the Golden Bears took the puck right back down and with one second remaining on the man advantage, James Dobrowolski’s slap shot from the top of the circle went in past Brossoit to make it 3-2 at 11:15.
Shortly after, the seventh overall pick in 2013, Darnell Nurse was called for slashing and given a ten-minute game misconduct for wrestling with Travis Toomey.
“It was definitely a penalty,” Nurse said. “I never take to kindly to getting hit in the head. If it goes like that, sometimes you get a little extra for it but I don’t really regret what I did.”
Mitch Holmberg tossed in an empty-net goal with 31 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Oilers and cool off the hot Golden Bears, who were making a push.
Oilers players report tomorrow for training camp and the first on-ice session is Friday at Rexall Place at 10 a.m. It is open to the public.