The Eastern Conference semi-final match-up between The Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen began tonight at Rogers Place. The starting goalies were Dylan Myskiw for the Oil Kings and Jack McNaughton for the Hitmen.
The game definitely opened up feeling like a Battle of Alberta. The Hitmen opened the first period strong and completely suffocated the Oil Kings in their own zone. However, outside of the first couple minutes, the first period was controlled by the Oil Kings even though the shot totals say otherwise. Of the 9 Hitmen shots, only 3 could be seen as quality scoring chances, the rest were from distance and came off of broken plays.
The Oil Kings shut down just about everything in the neutral zone, which produced plenty of quality scoring chances going the other way. The best scoring chance of the period came off of Jake Neighbour’s stick in the high slot where he rang it off the left post. The Oil Kings finished the period with 11 shots.
The period saw two penalties called, one for each squad. The Hitmen’s Carson Focht was assessed a roughing minor with 3:14 left in the period. Meanwhile, the Oil King’s Andrew Fyten took a check to the head penalty with only 25 seconds left in the frame.
The Oil Kings opened up the 2nd frame with an excellent penalty kill, along with a few quality scoring chances. However, unlike the first period, the Hitmen pushed back and took control of the majority of the 2nd period. The Hitmen made the necessary adjustments to stymie the Oil Kings on their break-outs and neutral zone control.
The Hitmen were buzzing and were finally rewarded at the 10:00 mark of the 2nd period. Kaden Elder‘s one-timer found the back of the net, after taking a pass across the high-slot from Mark Kastelic, Egor Zamula picked up the secondary asisst on the lone tally of the period.
Outside of the lone goal, the Oil Kings picked up the only other scoresheet entry. Connor McDonald was assessed a roughing minor with 3:08 left in the 2nd period, The Hitmen generated a high quality chance during their powerplay, which warranted a official review. However, the call stood as no-goal. The Hitmen added 8 shots in the 2nd, while the Oil Kings fired 11 shots on goal.
The Oil Kings were gifted a fairly generous powerplay early in the 3rd. Hitmen defenseman Parker Gavlas was called for boarding on what appeared to be harmless check 2 minutes and 58 seconds into the frame. The Hitmen put together another strong PK limiting the Oil Kings to a single shot. The Oil Kings then took a penalty of their own. At 14:23 Matthew Robertson took a kneeing minor, this time, the Hitmen PP wouldn’t be denied.
At 12:51 the Hitmen took advantage of a tired penalty kill and found the back of the net. Luke Coleman corralled a rebound and fired it home. Carson Focht and Vladislav Yeryomenko picked up the assists on Coleman’s tally. The sense of urgency from the Oil King’s was also met with frustration.
The frustration was evident when Andrew Fyten threw a check in the corner and was assessed a charging minor at the 8:02 mark. This charge garnered some extra attention as offsetting roughing minors were also assessed. This charging minor was short lived as Hitmen’s Josh Prokop took a hooking penalty less than a minute later at 7:37 mark of the period. Neither team generated much on their short lived powerplays.
It took sometime but the Oil Kings finally solved Jack McNaughton. Parker Gavlas put a one-timer from the blue-line off the post and in to bring the score to 2-1 at with 4:03 remaining in the 3rd. Andrei Pavlenko and Connor McDonald picked up the assists. The Oil Kings would ride this late period momentum and tie the game with 14.3 seconds left in the 3rd period. Jake Neighbours jumped on a loose puck a couple feet from the crease after Vince Loschiavo got hauled down and snapped it home. Quinn Benjafield picked up the secondary assist.
The first 4 minutes of OT was all Oil Kings, hemming the Hitmen in their zone for extended periods of time before forcing an icing and a Hitmen time out. Time out or not, it didn’t help the Hitmen as the following face-off spelt disaster, the draw came back and found its way behind McNaughton which inevitably found the back of the net at the 16:40 mark. Jake Neighbours scored the OT marker, his 2nd goal of the night. The assists were credited to David Kope and Andrew Fyten.
1. Jake Neighbours
2. Jack McNaughton
3. Parker Gavlas
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