Hitmen Fall Flat Against Oil Kings

Braeden Park/ Photo

It was one of those nights.

The Hitmen saw their six-game winning streak come to an end after a 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It what could be a preview of a first round playoff matchup, things just didn’t go as planned and overall was a frustrating game.

“We were flat,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “I think our intentions were good but the product wasn’t good at all.

“Everyone is disappointed with that effort. There was an opportunity there and we didn’t do much to go and seize it. We just weren’t emotionally involved.”

Mark Kastelic scored the lone Hitmen marker for his team-leading 46th of the season, while Jack McNaughton ended with 27 saves.

Trey Fix-Wolansky and Vince Loschiavo scored twice to lead the Oil Kings attack and Quinn Benjafield added a single. Dylan Myskiw made 24 saves to pick up the win.

An opening Edmonton goal off a bad bounce seemed to take the life out of the game as the Hitmen trailed 2-0 after the first 20 minutes, and were never able to respond back until the second period when Kastelic scored on a rebound in the low slot on the power play.

Trailing by just two headed into the third period, things just were not meant to be as Edmonton would add two more on a breakaway marker and on a power play of their own.

“We have two more opportunities to face them and we’ll need a lot more urgency than we did tonight,” Kastelic said. “We need to want it a lot more than what we showed and our competitive nature wasn’t at the level that it has been for us all year.

“This will give us motivation to get this bitter taste out of mouths and get in the right mindset of being ready for the full 60 minutes.”

With the loss, the Hitmen fall six points back of Edmonton and Lethbridge for top spot in the Central Division with just three games left on the regular season schedule.

And, it just so happens Lethbridge is up next for them.

“They’re a good team and neck-and-neck with Edmonton that we have had some troubles with this year,” Hamilton said. “We need to get back to the basics of prioritizing the defensive zone because we’ve seen some high scoring affairs in in past games with them.

“It’ll be a challenge but I expect a better bounce back and for the group to rise up.”

While the loss stings for the club that was riding high headed into the tilt, a lot is taken away from the contest as a learning experience. The club is still one of the younger ones, and all year have taken outcomes such as the one Friday night as motivation to bounce back the next time out.

They’re a resilient group.

“We’re all new to this but the message is to work as hard as we can,” Kastelic said. “The message is simple, take it one game at a time and let the chips fall where they may.”

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