May 19th, 2024

Oil Kings edge the Hurricanes

By Dale Woodard on October 7, 2021.

In a battle against the top-seeded team in the Canadian Hockey League, the Lethbridge Hurricanes came up just a tad short.

In what is potentially shaping up to be a great Central Division rivalry this year, the Edmonton Oil Kings earned the first win in Game 1 of 8 versus the Lethbridge Hurricanes courtesy a 2-1 win in Western Hockey League play Wednesday night at the Enmax Centre.

Edmonton defenceman Logan Dowhaniuk snapped a 1-1 tie with 2:18 to go for the game-winner that improves the CHL number-one ranked Oil Kings to 2-1 early in the season.

The loss is the Canes first of the season and also puts them at 2-1.

Having just returned from the Detroit Red Wings camp that made him miss the first two games of the season, Hurricanes defenceman Alex Cotton was impressed with what he saw in his season debut.

“That’s probably one of the best games I’ve seen from this group, to be honest, just our structure and how we played in the D-zone and how we supported each other and stuff like that,” said the overage defenceman who drew an assist on Yegor Klavdiev’s game-tying goal midway through the third period. “At the end of the day it was just an unlucky bounce off Thommy’s (goaltender Bryan Thomson) stick and in the back of the net. There was nothing we could really do. But we competed. We played really well.”

In keeping with the close theme of the night, the teams battled through almost two scoreless periods before Edmonton’s Jalen Luypen scored on a shorthanded buzzer beater past Thomson with 1.1 seconds left in the second period. The goal briefly went under video review to determine if Luypen had scored before the period ended.

But the Hurricanes tied it 8:01 into the third on Klavdiev s third of the season.

“That was a little deflating just because it was a penalty kill goal,” said Cotton of Luypen’s late goal. “But the way we responded was really good. We came out, we needed a goal and we got one from Klav. We came up a little bit short, but it’s the third game of the year. I think we have lots of learning to do and we’ll be OK.”

With overtime potentially looming, Dowhaniuk capitalized on a feed from Tyler Horstmann in the dying minutes for the winner.

The Oil Kings outshot the Hurricanes 29-24 as Thomson kicked out 27 of 29 shots, while Cossa – also a Red Wings prospect – made 23 saves.

“I thought it was a good hockey game,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. “I thought both teams played really well and the goaltending was on point. It was just a really good hockey game. I thought we fought hard and I was proud of the way we played. I thought five-on-five we played hard and didn’t give up a whole lot. Edmonton is a structured team and they don’t give up a whole lot, either. Our power play has been good in the first two games. There are some things tonight we’d like to clean up and we’ll be better for it.

“I told the guys in the room there’s nothing to hold our heads about tonight. We played hard, they played hard. They got a bounce, we didn’t, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Euro pick Klavdiev’s goal was his team-leading third of the season.

“He’s been very good and he’s only going to get better and better,” said Kisio. “It’s a hard transition for guys coming over here and playing in North America and to see his game develop and where it’s going to go, we’re very excited.

With Game 1 between the two teams in the books, there are seven more to go this season.

“They’re supposed to be the best team in our league and we were right there with them the whole game,” said Cotton, whose team will face the Oil Kings for Game 2 Oct. 15 in Edmonton. “I think we outplayed them five-on-five, to be honest. I think every time we go up against them it’s going to be a battle like that, just close games and no blowouts. It’ll be fun for the rest of the year.”

After a busy month that included the Red Wings rookie camp followed by their main camp and some preseason action, Cotton returned to the Canes for his season debut.

“I’ve had lots of skating in the last month and I feel pretty good,” he said. “My legs are a little tired, to be honest, but I felt good and felt I moved the puck well.”

The veteran blue-liner soaked up his time in Detroit.

“Just getting down there, they’re such a first-class organization,” said Cotton. “All the guys there are great people and the experience was surreal, any guy could dream of that. Just getting those preseason games really helped me and showed me where I need to get to. I’m going to work here and do the best I can to do that.”

Kisio credited Cotton for a good game in what has been a busy schedule complete with a few air miles.

“He’s travelled a lot and it’s not easy coming back from Detroit and getting in and getting accustomed to what we’re doing here. It’s exciting to have him back. We were hoping he’d be in the A (American Hockey League), but our job is to develop him and we’ll get him ready.”

The Hurricanes return to the Enmax Centre Saturday night when they host the Red Deer Rebels at 7 p.m.

NOTES – Lethbridge native John Szabo made his hometown WHL debut with the Oil Kings Wednesday night. The former Lethbridge bantam AAA Val Matteotti Golden Hawk and U18 AAA Hurricane played on a line with Kobe Verbicky and Shea Van Olm and went plus-one on the night.

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