Warriors blue-liner Rielly returns to lineup
By Evan Daum, edmontonjournal.com
April 21, 2012
Photograph by: Supplied , edmontonjournal.com
EDMONTON - It was a return 165 days in the making for Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Morgan Rielly on Friday night at Rexall Place.
The highly touted 18-year-old, who’s the fifth-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of June’s entry draft, made his return to the Warriors lineup against the Edmonton Oil Kings in Game 1 of the Western Hockey League Eastern Conference final.
It was Rielly’s first game since tearing his ACL back on Nov. 6 in a game against the Calgary Hitmen.
“He’s terrific. He’s an unbelievable player, so certainly it’s nice to have him back. I think he’ll get even better once he gets his timing and everything back,” Moose Jaw head coach Mike Stothers said.
“I was pretty impressed for a guy that had that much time off to come in and play the way he did tonight.”
The injection of the Vancouver, B.C., product, who had 18 points in as many games before being forced out of the lineup, paid immediate dividends for the Warriors on the scoresheet, recording an assist on the Warriors lone goal in a 6-1 loss.
Logging big minutes on the Warriors power play, which went 0-for-6, Rielly didn’t look out of place with just over 15 minutes of ice time.
“I didn’t have any question marks with my legs, or anything like that, so I was happy with that, but obviously it takes some time. It went well,” Rielly said.
“It’s the Eastern Conference final and it was a quick pace. That’s a quick team that we’re playing over there and we’ve just got to keep playing our game.”
Despite being without the offensive defender for 54 regular-season games and through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Moose Jaw finished with a franchise-best 45 wins this season to finish second behind the high powered Oil Kings in the East.
That was little consolation for the Warriors Friday in a lopsided loss to the Oil Kings, who continued their playoff perfection with their ninth consecutive post-season win in as many games, to stretch their overall unbeaten streak to 20 games dating back to Feb. 24.
“Our team’s not worried about their streaks, or anything like that at all. That’s just another team, so we’re going to play them with all we’ve got,” Rielly said.
Brossoit rock solid
Laurent Brossoit has been making it look easy in goal this playoff season for the Oil Kings.
Riding a 109:12 long shutout streak heading into Game 1 of the WHL Eastern Conference championship series, Brossoit has posted a stellar 1.44 goals-against average to go along with a .944 save percentage through nine games now.
While his scoreless streak finally met its match at the 14:30 mark of the second when Jordan Wyton scored to make it 4-1, snapping Brossoit’s brilliant run at 143:12, it has been his goaltenders’ performance all season long that has Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal feeling confident.
“I’m not really worried about his streak, I’m worried about his game,” Laxdal said. “He’s been outstanding all year. LB, He’s taken the ball and he’s run with it.”
Ex-Oil King honoured
The Oil Kings paid tribute to a member of their 1966 Memorial Cup-winning team before the start of Friday’s game with a moment of silence. Craig Cameron, 66, recently lost his battle with cancer.
The Edmonton native played parts of nine NHL seasons with four different teams, including 187 with the New York Islanders between 1972 and 1975. Cameron played two seasons with the Oil Kings in 1964-65 and 1965-66, going to the Memorial Cup both years before moving onto a successful pro career.
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