On the back of two shorthanded goals, the Edmonton Oil Kings sent the Calgary Hitmen into Christmas break on the trailing end of a 4-1 decision.
Nearly at the halfway point of the season, Hitmen Head Coach, Mike Williamson drew upon the bigger picture. “There are areas to improve upon in the second half of the season. Overall though, we are in a good spot.”
Tonight’s meeting concludes the season series between the Oil Kings and Hitmen, with all six meetings taking place in 2012. Calgary caps off the provincial rivalry with a 4-2-0-0 record, significantly improving on last year’s single win against Edmonton.
The two points collected by the Oil Kings inches them into the Eastern Conference lead with 51 points, one point ahead of the Hitmen.
Calgary opened scoring late in the first stanza, as Greg Chase fielded a pass from Cody Sylvester, launching a shot that nipped an Oil King defender and past Edmonton backstop, Laurent Brossoit.
“I thought we did really well in the first period and we showed some emotion. After that, the emotion kind of seemed to drift away,” determined lone Hitmen marksman, Greg Chase. “That can’t happen in the last game before Christmas break, especially in a battle for first place.”
Special teams came alive for the visitors in the middle frame. A shorthanded marker courtesy of Henrik Samuelsson erased the Hitmen lead early in the second. Just over three minutes later Edmonton’s league-leading power play solidified their effectiveness as Mitchell Moroz took advantage of a lively bounce off the backwall to sneak it through the five-hole of Chris Driedger.
Before the period buzzer sounded, Samuelsson managed to deal more shorthanded damage, as he tallied his second of the night on a breakaway opportunity, lifting the Oil Kings to a 3-1 lead entering in the final frame.
“Obviously that is tough to recover from. I thought we were good in the first period, even before the shorthanded goals, I didn’t like where we were at in the second period,” dissected Williamson. “We seemed to be standing still and watching against a good hockey team.”
The Oil Kings halted the Hitmen in the third, pouring all efforts into their defensive game. Curtis Lazar scored a late-game marker to seal the Edmonton win at 4-1.
The Calgary Hitmen were without the services of Victor Rask, who returns to Team Sweden’s selection camp, after capturing the gold medal during last year’s championship. Edmonton had three players scratched due to World Junior preparation: Griffin Reinhart (Canada), David Musil (Czech Republic) and Edgars Kulda (Latvia).
Chris Driedger made 27 saves in the Hitmen net as Edmonton outshot Calgary 31-16.
Calgary, 23-8-1-3 on the season, will now enter the Christmas break, returning to action at the end of the month with a home-and-home set against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. On Friday, December 28, the Hurricanes will visit the Scotiabank Saddledome, with a 7 p.m. puck drop. Calgary then travels to Lethbridge on Saturday, December 29 for the re-match.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.