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Edmonton Oil Kings back on the road with three games in four nights

The Edmonton Oil Kings are back on the bus this weekend, embarking on their most important road trip on the year so far. The Oil Kings will play three games in four nights, all against divisional opponents, which will directly impact their place in the Western Hockey League standings. They begin the trip in Cranbrook, B.C., against the Kootenay Ice on Friday, travel to face the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday and then go play the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Monday. “It’s another big weekend for us,” said Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer. “When you’re playing your division, the games are important. We don’t want to look too far ahead, we’re focusing on Friday night, but we understand the importance of the weekend, with Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, two teams that are right there and are right with us.” Heading out on the road, the Oil Kings are currently second in the Central Division standings, a point behind the Red Deer Rebels and two ahead of Medicine Hat. Lethbridge is four points behind the Oil Kings and Kootenay is seven points back. “We have a chance to get some space between those teams,” Lauer said. “If we play the right way and do the right things, we can give ourselves a chance to do that.”


The Edmonton Oil Kings’ Andrei Pavlenko (25) battles the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ goaltender Carl Tetachuk (35) and Igor Merezhko (11) during second period WHL action at Rogers Place, in Edmonton Sunday Oct. 28, 2018. David Bloom / Postmedia

The Oil Kings have won five of their past six games heading into Kootenay, and have earned 11 of 12 possible points in that span. Last weekend, they had a five-game winning streak snapped, on the road, against the Swift Current Broncos in a 4-3 overtime loss. Edmonton outshot Swift Current 45-20 in the game and 21-2 in the third period. “With two long travel days on this trip, we’re going to go in there and try to play our best road game against Kootenay,” said Oilers forward Brett Kemp. “We know these teams play and we know if we play the way we can, we can beat them.” The Oil Kings have faced Kootenay three times this season. The Oil Kings lost the first game against the Ice, which was the second in an eight-game losing skid. They ended the skid against the Ice at home on Oct. 21, and then defeated Kootenay again five days later, 7-2, in Cranbrook. “They’ve had some pieces coming in and out, but they’re pretty top-heavy team and they have a really good top line with (Peyton) Krebs and (Brett) Davis,” said Oil Kings defenceman Ethan Cap. “They have a couple of pieces on the back end that are really mobile and are really good. It’s a key for us to shut down their power play, which starts off with not taking too many penalties. We know the type of game we have to play to beat them, we’ve done it the last two games, where we’ve gone in with the simple road-game mindset and it’s worked out for us the last two games.” Having embarked on a six-game road trip earlier this year and played three games in three nights two weeks ago, the Oil Kings are familiar with the challenge ahead of three games in four nights on the road. The three-in-three two weeks ago included an eight-hour travel night from Kootenay. This time, the Oil Kings are implementing a travel strategy to try and mitigate the effects of another long travel day heading into Medicine Hat.


The puck flies past Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Dylan Myskiw (31) on its way into the net, a powerplay goal by Medicine Hat Tigers Bryan Lockner (23) during WHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, September 26, 2018. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia

“We’re going to Kootenay on Thursday and then after the game in Kootenay (Friday), we’ll drive down to Lethbridge,” Lauer said. “We’ll go to Lethbridge and then we’ll use Lethbridge as a base, bus into Medicine Hat on Saturday, go in there, play the game, and bus back to Lethbridge. It’s about a two-hour drive, but I think that will give us better rest and better sleep patterns.” If all goes well, the Oil Kings are hoping to regain top spot in the Central Division. A bad trip could have them slide back to third spot. “When you play divisional games, they are all four-point games and you want to be playing well in them,” Lauer said. “You want to do what your team needs to do, which is play the right way, and do the right things.” Email: dvandiest@postmedia.comOn Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

Original Source
Author: Derek Van Diest

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