I had the pleasure of covering my first Major Junior playoff series in its entirety this postseason. I was able to cover the Edmonton Oil Kings vs Medicine Hat Tigers by being live at every Oil Kings home game and watched my first WHL live streams of road games. Other than being scammed my money by the streaming company for Game 3. It was a thoroughly pleasant experience that I hope I get to maintain doing past this year’s playoffs.
My second round coverage of the Oil Kings is going to be dodgy as I’ll be away on vacation in Jamaica from April 7th-14th. This trip was planned long before I knew I’d be covering the Oil Kings full time. However, I truly look forward to keeping up with the team and continuing in the Eastern Conference Final if they make it.
Edmonton is a young team that had a perfect first-round opponent in my opinion. A very inexperienced team got to experience everything about being in a playoff series in that first round. Being down early in a series thanks to a Game 1 loss where they peppered over 50 shots on net. Clawing back into the series by winning a decisive game two. Just to get blown out of the barn in Game 3. Fighting back and blowing out Medicine Hat in Game 4. Staving off a comeback in Game 5 where they almost blew a three-goal lead in the third period. Finally capping off the series when given the opportunity as elite teams do in Game 6. Elite teams, when they smell blood, they pounce. They even got to experience their first overtime as a young group in that Game 6 win. They’ve still yet to experience long overtime that settles in and tests every fiber of your competitiveness but as the playoffs go on. I’m sure they’ll get to experience that as well.
Medicine Hat was that perfect first-round opponent that didn’t just lay down and die. They fought hard in every game and gave Edmonton all they could. It just wasn’t enough. The Oil Kings won the Central Division for a reason. They are one of the best teams in the WHL and aren’t going to be an easy out come April.
The good news for Edmonton is although it took awhile. Trey Fix-Wolansky finally found his footing in this series as he’d eventually end it with a 3-4-7 scoreline. He got the majority of those points on the back end of this series though as the 100+ point man had to rely on the depth of his team through the first couple games. It’s no surprise that once Trey got going, the team followed suit winning 3 of 4 games to close out the series.
Unsung heroes in this series for sure were Vince Loschiavo who has proven to be an excellent offseason acquisition for the Oil Kings. Controlled defensive play by Conner McDonald and Wyatt McLeod was a big factor as well. Edmonton’s defense was simply better all over the board compared to Medicine Hat. It goes without saying that one of the turning points in this series was the choice by the coaching staff to pull Dylan Myskiw in Game 3 and go with Todd Scott in Game 4 who took the reigns the rest of the series and provided the Oil Kings with steady goaltending. It leaves tough decisions to make for Round 2. Do you go with the guy that’s got you here through his play all year or do you go with the guy that’s hot right now? Thankfully that’s not a decision I have to make.
Edmonton will face either Calgary or Lethbridge in the second round. We’ll find out on Tuesday. I’ll be writing a preview on the second round series regardless of opponent. I’m personally hoping it’s Calgary as I’d love to see a Battle of Alberta even if I’m going to miss half the series.
Make sure to get your tickets to all the second round games and support the boys in Ice District. They need our support!