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Leader Post article (Oil Kings beat Warriors in Game 1)

April 21 2012 at 11:42 PM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Response to Edmonton Journal article (Hockey World April 21: Luongo puts Canucks in a bind)

Oil Kings beat Warriors in Game 1

By Matthew Gourlie, Moose Jaw Times-Herald

April 21, 2012

Edmonton Oil Kings' Keegan Lowe (4) hits Moose Jaw Warriors' Dylan McIlrath (8) into the boards during the first game of the Eastern Conference final at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Friday night.

Photograph by: Ed Kaiser, Edmonton Journal , Moose Jaw Times-Herald

The Edmonton Oil Kings set the pace in the WHL and claimed the regular-season title.

On Friday, they set the bar for what it will take to be Eastern Conference champions.

The Oil Kings showed why they have won 20 games in a row as they put together an impressive Game 1 performance with a 6-1 win over the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Eastern Conference final.

"It wasn't one thing," said Warriors defenceman Dylan McIlrath. "We got outworked at the start. If it wasn't big body checks, they were just winning the oneon-one battles for sure.

"Down low in our zone, they were getting the puck out it seemed and that is definitely something we need to improve on."

The Oil Kings take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is Sunday afternoon (5 p.m., Access7).

"It wasn't a very good game for us," said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. "It wasn't indicative of the way we have played in the playoffs thus far. It's one game. We have to regroup, refocus and get ready for Sunday."

The Oil Kings took a 1-0 lead after the first period, but broke the game open with four second-period goals. Their speed caused the Warriors problems, but the Oil Kings also were able to win puck battles all over the ice.

"I think we won the battles tonight, but it's only one game," said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. "We know Moose Jaw has a lot more to give and we're not going to expect anything less."

The Oil Kings haven't lost since Feb. 22.

The Warriors knew they were facing one of the fastest teams in the WHL, but it was their own play that was their downfall as much as it was the Oil Kings' speed.

"We're pretty fast too. We just chose to not show it tonight," said Stothers. "For whatever reason our legs looked a little heavy. We did more standing and watching than we did skating and dictating. Against a team like Edmonton you can't afford to do that or else it ends up in the back of your net."

The Oil Kings opened the scoring when a deflected shot landed on Klarc Wilson's stick, giving him an easy chance to convert midway through the first period. Wilson hadn't played in 26 days, but with Dylan Wruck out of the lineup, the 19-year-old made the most of his opportunity as he finished with a two-point night.

Curtis Lazar made a great play to reach around a sprawling McIlrath and his phenomenal reach to feed Stephane Legault for a tapin on a two-on-one 18 seconds into the second period.

That goal helped open the floodgates.

Rhett Rachinski batted a bouncing puck past Luke Siemens to put the Oil Kings up 3-0 and Lazar scored on a great shot to give the home side a 4-0 lead.

The Warriors' Jordan Wyton scored in his first game of the playoffs when he snapped Laurent Brossoit's shutout streak at two hours 23 minutes 42 seconds. Brossoit showed why he is the reigning CHL goalie of the week as he made 29 saves.

Tyler Maxwell scored late in the second period for the Oil Kings and Legault scored his second of the night in the third period.

The Warriors pulled Siemens to start the third period after he stopped 19 of the 24 shots he faced. Spencer Tremblay made his playoff debut and stopped five of the six shots he faced.

- The WHL announced Friday that Tri-City Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin is the Western Conference's finalist for the player of the year award.

He's to face Medicine Hat Tigers forward Emerson Etem in the balloting.

Shinnimin, a 20-year-old product of Winnipeg, had 58 goals and 76 assists for a league-high 134 points in the regular season.

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

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