The Oil Kings had a bust weekend. With games on both Saturday and Sunday, there was plenty of opportunity to improve an awful record. As the worst team in the WHL and the entire CHL, two wins would have had a significant positive impact for the Oil Kings.
The Oil Kings faced the Prince Albert Raiders in the Annual Teddy Bear Toss Game on Saturday night. One of the most popular games of the year, the Teddy Bear Toss supports 630 CHED Santa’s Anonymous. The Oil Kings sold out Rogers Place for the game; a full building provided an atmosphere normally not found at Oil Kings games.
The Oil Kings opened the scoring early—much to the relief of fans – with the all-important Teddy Bear Toss goal from Davis Koch at 1:07 of the first period. After that goal, 14,122 teddy bears of all shapes and sizes rained down on the ice. After getting the crucial first goal out of the way, the Oil Kings had a focus and energy that has been lacking in recent games. It showed in their mentality as well. They didn’t let Prince Albert tying the game in the first period to shake them; they maintained their composure and answered back.
Finishing the first with a 2-1 lead, the Oil Kings protected their lead. While the Oil Kings have led in games this year, protecting that lead has been an area where improvement is required. The game finished in a 4-1 win, snapping a 12-game losing streak. It was also the most complete game the Oil Kings have played recently. The penalty kill was effective going seven for seven on the evening; the power play had more forward momentum and the five on five game wasn’t hemmed into the defensive zone as has happened so often lately.
Over all, the Oil Kings looked more like a team – cohesive, communicating, and controlling the play. The game was the type of game the Oil Kings could build on and create positive momentum from.
Unfortunately, the Oil Kings game on Sunday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes did not build off Saturday’s success. In fact, it obliterated them. It was a stunning display of all the reasons the Oil Kings have done so poorly this season.
The Oil Kings too far too many penalties; some were what might be classified as unavoidable but there were also penalties with their roots in frustration and bad positional play. The Oil Kings also had a horrible night for special teams. The penalty kill was a disaster allowing six goals over the course of the game. Six goals are a deficit which is awfully difficult to erase. The powerplay was likewise a mess. It seemed at times to be detrimental to the Oil Kings momentum it was so poorly executed.
The Oil Kings did manage a strong start. They scored two goals in the first period but Lethbridge answered back with seven goals over the next two periods. The Oil Kings looked overwhelmed and outplayed in the second and third periods, a disappointing result after a strong first.
Worst of all, the Oil Kings seemed to have no answer and display no ability to adapt to the situation they found themselves in. One of the most frustrating elements of the game for spectators is the Oil Kings seeming disinterest in turning losing efforts into competitive games. Either they are content to lose, or they are starting to honestly believe they can’t win. Neither is a good situation.
The Oil Kings have a lot to take away from a weekend which was very much a mixed bag for them. Starting to learn from their mistakes could lead to more positive games (and points) for the Oil Kings. The team is next in action against the Moose Jaw Warriors Thursday evening.