Edmonton Journal article (Warriors overcome adversity to post successful season)April 18 2012 at 7:12 AM
No score for this post
|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Warriors overcome adversity to post successful season
Injury to key player, multiple suspensions meant revolving door to roster
By Chris O'Leary, edmontonjournal.com
April 17, 2012
The Edmonton Oil Kings prepare to meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL Eastern Conference championship series.
Photograph by: Megan Voss , edmontonjournal.com
EDMONTON - With the season the Edmonton Oil Kings are having, it’s easy to forget that the team coming to town on Friday is nothing to scoff at.
The Oil Kings won 50 regular-season games and are enjoying a 19-game winning streak en route to the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final.
But the Moose Jaw Warriors finished the regular season just a few steps behind the Oil Kings. The Warriors compiled a record of 45-19-6-2 for 98 points — second behind the Oil Kings’ 107-point season — and have lost just one game in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“The playoff series that we’ve had have been tougher than what it looks by the game count,” Moose Jaw head coach Mike Stothers said by phone, shortly before the Warriors practised on Tuesday.
“Regina played us extremely hard and well and Medicine Hat did as well, so I mean it certainly wasn’t easy. Nothing has been (easy) for us all year long. We’ve been kind of schooled that way all season, and here in the playoffs, that’s not going to change.”
The Warriors’ success this season came in spite of defenceman Morgan Rielly missing 54 games with a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament. The injury didn’t stop NHL Central Scouting from keeping the 18-year-old highly ranked — the five-foot-11, 190-pounder was the No. 5 North American skater in the final list.
“We’re very happy with the way our team has performed with guys we’ve had in and out of the lineup,” Stothers said. “Whether it’s injuries or suspensions or whatever has happened this year, we’ve utilized our whole team, our whole bench.”
The Warriors have had their share of suspension trouble, losing 30 games from pre-season through to Cody Beach’s March 26 one-game suspension for derogatory comments to the Regina Pats’ bench on March 24.
“We don’t make excuses for our lineup, we just play whoever’s available and we’ve had pretty good success with it,” Stothers said. “Having said that, you get a player of Morgan’s caliber back and it certainly makes you a better team. We’re looking forward to seeing him back in our lineup.”
Rielly scored 18 points in 18 games before getting hurt.
With the WHL’s top two teams in the Eastern Conference playing for a trip to the league final, both sides are expecting their toughest challenge of the playoffs.
“I guess from the way it’s turned out, it’s Team 1 and Team 2 from the conference, and although we only played Edmonton four times, every game was close,” Stothers said. “So you know what, we’re looking forward to it.
“I think it’s a great matchup. We have a lot of respect for everything Edmonton has done this year. It’s certainly a streak that they’re on. Nineteen wins in a row is pretty impressive for any level of hockey.”
“I think Moose Jaw, obviously, every series is going to get tougher and I think Moose Jaw is going to be the toughest yet,” Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit said. “It’ll be a hard-fought battle, it’s going to be a tough series.”
The Oil Kings took the season series with the Warriors 3-1. Edmonton won 3-1 on Oct. 7, 2-1 on Oct. 19 and eked out a 3-2 overtime win on March 7. They suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to Moose Jaws on Dec. 28.
Stothers said he’s excited about the series and the challenges the Oil Kings will present for his team.
“I think they’ve been very consistent. I mean, you don’t get 50 wins by fluke,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower and can score a lot of goals and they can make you pay for mistakes. They don’t give you much.
“For a team that scores as much as they do, they play very sound defensively and make you work for every opportunity you’re going to get. It’s the best team in the league, so bring it on. Let’s go.”
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
- Van Sun art. (Never say die Blazers show Canucks exactly how to dig out of massive hole) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:16 AM
- Calgary Herald article (Life lessons help define Oil Kings goaltender) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:25 AM
- Leader-Post article (Vicious series can't be ignored) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:28 AM
- Leader-Post article (Sletten comes full circle) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:29 AM
- Leader-Post article (Perepeluk to take over Rebels) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:31 AM
- StarPhoenix article (Fans can vote for fave Blades) - N. W. Bruin on Apr 18, 7:33 AM