Edmonton Journal article (Fireworks, Tigers steal the show)September 20 2008 at 11:30 AM
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Fireworks, Tigers steal the show
Oil Kings control tempo for the first 40 minutes while outshooting Medicine Hat 22-13, but still lose season opener at home
Chris O'Leary, Special to The Journal
Published: 2:04 am
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oil Kings started their night off with fireworks, but weren't able to keep the show going in their season-opening 5-1 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night at Rexall Place.
Tigers centre Brett Cameron scored the game-winner at 5:49 of the second period while Mark Isherwood, Zdenek Okal and Matthew Konan struck in the third period to put the Western Hockey League game out of reach.
Colton Grant also scored for the Tigers, while Jeff Lee provided the Oil Kings' only tally of the night.
Michael Burns of the Edmonton Oil Kings battles for a rebound with Medicine Hat defenceman Mark Isherwood in front of Tigers goalie Ryan Holfeld during the Oil Kings' Western Hockey League season opener Friday at Rexall Place.
Shaughn Butts, the Journal
Despite never leading, the Oil Kings controlled the tempo for the first 40 minutes, outshooting the Tigers 22-13. The front-line depth the Oil Kings talked about during the pre-season was out of sync on several occasions, costing them several times in the Tigers' zone.
"I think a couple of young guys had key chances," said Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau, pointing to gaffes from a pair of his 17-year-olds.
Forward Logan Proulx was stopped on a breakaway in the second period that would have tied the game, and Michael Burns mishandled a puck on a break late in the second that also could have tied the game.
"We did have our chances, but you've got to recognize that when you have those chances you're not going to get too many and you've got to bury them," Pleau added.
"Some guys in the first game of the year don't have the cobwebs out yet and that'll come I think," Lee said. "We're definitely (headed) in the right direction.
"We outshot them. I think we might have out-chanced them, but we just have to find a way to execute and that'll come." When the Oil Kings' offence wasn't stalled, it ran into a wall in Tigers goalie Ryan Holfeld, who had defeated Edmonton six times last season. The 19-year-old from LeRoy, Sask., continued to pose problems until his teammates found their offence in the game's final 20 minutes.
"He's played real well for us (at Rexall Place), Tigers head coach Willie Desjardins said. "He's a good goaltender, he's played a lot of good games for us, but he seems to play real well for us here." While Holfeld was stellar in net, Dalyn Flette had a rough go in his first start for the Oil Kings. Pleau said that it's important to let the 18-year-old grow into his role with the team.
"We've got to give Fletter a chance to play," Pleau said. "You can't just throw him in there and then you get Patrick Roy.
"You've got to give him a chance to develop a personality as a starting goalie, you've got to give him a chance to have his ups and downs and battle through it and, you know what, I thought he did a lot of good things.
"He made a couple of great plays handling the puck. He does some real good things in the net." Pleau added that he'd like to see more out of his special teams, which allowed a goal on the penalty kill and came up empty-handed on the power play despite having a two-man advantage for the last 51 seconds of the second period.
"We had power plays at key times in the game and, to me, we didn't bury it. We didn't even take advantage of them.
"We didn't put pressure on their penalty-killers. Their key guys, we didn't wear them down on the power play and that's an issue we have to address. Our power play has to be better. It doesn't have to score; it has to be better and put pressure on teams." The Oil Kings will attempt to break even on their season-opening homestand at 7 p.m. tonight, when the Calgary Hitmen visit Rexall Place.
© The Edmonton Journal 2008
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