It's always dangerous when you let a team hang around in a game long enough to catch a break. The Edmonton Oil Kings could not pull away from Prince George despite a lopsided shot clock and the Cougars patience paid off with a 4 - 3 win at Rexall Place. Defenseman Dallas Jackson had a pair of assists and Marcus Watson gave the Cougars their one and only lead in the game with 6:08 to go for the eventual game winner in a game where both teams were battling for an important 2 points in their respective playoff races.
"Offensively, I think we created enough to win the hockey game." stated Oil Kings Head Coach Steve Pleau. "We gave up only 19 shots. If we cut that down, then we win. Defensively we just didn't do the job."
The loss marks the first time Edmonton has failed to win when leading after 40 minutes of play. Their record with the lead after 40 minutes of play is now 14-1-0-0. Oil Kings goalie Torrie Jung says they should be able to learn a valuable lesson from that experience.
"I'm not taking anything away from Prince George. They're good at hanging around and when they do, they wait for their opportunities and tonight they made good on them. Obviously we need to learn to bury a team a bit more when we do start to get the momentum like that. It's a learning process."
You could tell the Oil Kings had something to prove after their performance the night before in Calgary. The home team came out with a lot of jump and dominated on the shot clock. The hard work paid off early and it's no surprise that co-captain Jeff Lee was leading the way. Rookie defenseman Henrik Tervonen started the play in the Oil Kings zone and chipped a puck along the boards into the neutral zone for Lee. The 20 year old veteran had a burst of speed to gain the zone and then put on the brakes to make some room for himself. That gave him the opportunity to rifle a shot, top shelf over Cougars goalie Kevin Armstrong. Lee's 17th and team leading 50th point made it 1 - 0 just over 9 minutes into the game.
The Oil Kings would strike again about 6 minutes later. Brent Raedeke carried the puck behind the Cougars net and got it out front for Brett Breitkreuz. He was stopped on the first attempt by Armstrong but rookie T.J. Foster was there to shovel in the backhand on the second rebound. Foster's 6th of the season made it 2 - 0.
The Cougars would get on the board on just their second shot of the game late in the period. Dallas Jackson busted down the right wing and stopped about the hash marks. That gave him enough time and space to feed the point for Brian Matte. He made a heads up slap pass to Justin Maylan in the high slot who tipped one past Torrie Jung. Maylan's 13th of the season made it 2 - 1 after the first and Edmonton was leading 11 - 2 on the shot clock.
Prince George carried that momentum into the second period. Edmonton native and current Southside Athletic Club member Caleb Belter made his WHL debut a memorable one. He lead a rush up the middle of the ice and dished the puck ahead for Corey Tyrell. The Airdrie native took a shot that looked like it rolled up the stick of defenseman Henrik Tervonen and fooled Jung on the short side. It was 2 - 2 with a lot of hockey to play.
Edmonton had an answer about midway through the hockey game and it came courtesy of some more hard work along the boards. Logan Proulx dug a loose puck out of the corner in the Cougars zone and tried to skate the puck into the slot for a scoring chance. He didn't get a shot away but Robin Soudek sure did. He picked the corner, top shelf for his 4th of the season. It was 3 -2 at that point and Edmonton had a 19 - 6 edge on the shot clock.
The birthday boy, Torrie Jung was solid when he needed to be. Two of his best saves came with just a few seconds to go in the second period. Tyler Halliday made a nice drive to the net for the Cougars. He tried to slide one through the 5 hole but Jung stood his ground not once, but twice. Edmonton carried their one goal lead into the third period.
The Cougars got another timely goal to start the third period. Cougars forward Brett Connolly spotted a wide open Marek Viedensky right in front of the Oil Kings net. He was stopped point blank by Jung on the first attempt but jammed home the rebound for his 8th of the season. It was all tied up at 3 just 55 seconds into the final frame.
Prince George would finally take their first lead of the game. Art Bidlevskii let a harmless wrist shot go from the point that was stopped easily by Torrie Jung but the rebound fell into no-man's land. Marcus Watson had the presence of mind to take a stride and roof a backhand into a yawning cage. His 2nd of the season made the final score 4 - 3.
Oil Kings rookie defenseman Mark Pysyk says the Cougars got back into the game by keeping it simple.
"They just got pucks to the net and they put bodies in front of the net. We missed a check and they put their first one in and they kept going from there. We need to clear guys out from the front of the net better. We practiced that. They had lots of guys standing around the front of the net giving them second and third chances at (Torrie Jung). He makes the first save, that's all we can ask from him."
With the loss, the Oil Kings' record slips to 21-24-2-4 and their busy schedule continues with a pair of games in Saskatchewan this weekend. They'll be in Prince Albert on Friday for a huge game when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoff race. They'll wrap up their 4 games in 5 nights stretch in Saskatoon on Saturday. The next home game for the Oil Kings will be Wednesday the 28th against the Brandon Wheat Kings. It's another Weiner Wednesday featuring $2 hot dogs all night.