A late third-period comeback fell short for the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night as the Edmonton Oil Kings took the second game of a home-and-home set, 4-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Hitmen looked on their way to being shutout for the third time on home ice before the offence exploded for two goals late in the final frame. The Oil Kings would spoil the rally with an empty net insurance marker.
Calgary entered the contest looking for their fifth straight win against the Oil Kings this season. On Friday night in Edmonton, the Hitmen came from two-goals down in the first period to knock-off the defending WHL champions 5-2.
“It’s good to be on top of the series but you want to win every game that you can and it still hurts that we lost,” discussed defenceman Alex Roach.
Despite an electric start by both sides, it was the visitors who opened the scoring 7:25 into the first period. With a Hitmen player in the box, the Oil Kings’ league-best power play capitalized as a shot from the blue line by Griffin Reinhart sailed past a number of bodies to beat a screened Hitmen netminder, Chris Driedger. The tally was Reinhart’s fourth of the season.
Calgary Flames draft pick Laurent Brossoit had a huge first 20 minutes to keep his team in front. His best stop came in the early stages of the game as he stretched across the crease to rob Spencer Humphries on a rebound opportunity.
Even with a 16-14 shot advantage in the stanza, the Hitmen would fall behind by two as the Oil Kings struck with less than two minutes to go in the first. Cody Corbett’s attempt from the point found the back of the net as forward Stephane Legault tipped the puck through the legs of the Calgary goaltender for his third of the campaign.
“We had a good first period but the second period we were a little bit down and they poured it on,” mentioned Roach.
After a wild opening frame, the next two periods would produce strong shutdown efforts from Edmonton as they searched for their first win against Calgary in 2012-13. Driedger, named the Ed Williams Player of the Month for November, proved to be one of the best Hitmen players on the ice, making several key stops. Driedger would end the evening with 30 saves between the pipes for Calgary.
In the third period, Henrik Samuelsson tallied the second of two power play goals on the night for the Oil Kings at 9:47. A pass from the left side of the zone by Michael St. Croix found Samuelsson in the slot where he fired the puck over Driedger for his 14th of the year.
At 16:28, Cody Sylvester got the Hitmen on the board. The Calgary captain netted his team-leading 18th of the season as he picked up a rebound off a hard shot from Victor Rask to beat Brossoit.
A mere 26 seconds later, the Calgary goal horn would be set off again. Roach blasted a shot from the perimeter which rang off the iron. The puck proceeded to bounce off the back of the Edmonton goaltender before crossing the goal line for Roach’s eighth of the campaign.
The Hitmen continued to press for a tying goal and pulled their goaltender in the dying minutes. Dylan Wruck would seal the game though with just under a minute left as he buried the puck into the empty net for his 11th of the season to round out the scoring.
Next game for the Hitmen comes on Tuesday, December 11 as they host the Kamloops Blazers with a 7 p.m. puck drop. Tickets for upcoming Hitmen games are available at all Ticketmaster locations as well as the Scotiabank Saddledome box office. Order online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 1-855-985-5000. For more information on tickets, including the Sunday Ticket Pack and Name Your Game Flex Package, contact customer service at 403-777-4646.