The Edmonton Oil Kings have started one of their longest road trips of the year. With six games in nine days, the road trip to play the US Division is one of the most taxing in the Oil Kings schedule. It is also pivotal for the continued building of momentum. If the Oil Kings falter here, they’ll have to rebuild everything they’ve built so far.
The Oil Kings have played the majority of their games so far at Rogers Place, on their own ice. The only exception being a coupe quick trips down the QEII to play Red Deer or Calgary. Day trips of a sort. This next series of games, which represents nearly 10% of the Oil Kings season, is their first long road trip of the season. With a 5-1-0 record going into the start of this road trip the Oil Kings will be looking to prove that their last game at Rogers Place – a somewhat sloppy game against the Saskatoon Blades – isn’t going to be the norm. This road trip offers them a chance to solidify their position as one of the most competitive teams in the Central conference.
The first stop for the Oil Kings, on Friday October 5th, was in Cranbrook to play the Kootenay Ice. The Ice, originally the Edmonton Ice, are always an interesting team to play. They have in the last few years been less competitive – much like the Oil Kings – but are generally a team that has one or two excellent players on it. The Ice were also frequent trade partners for the Oil Kings this offseason meaning there would have been several familiar faces.
The Oil Kings didn’t get quite the rebound they were hoping for against the Ice, but an overtime loss and one point is still better than nothing. The Oil Kings will begin to clash with strong US Division teams on Saturday night – fist Spokane, then Tri-City, Portland, Everett, and Seattle. Of those teams, Portland and Everett have had the strongest starts. Tri-City has played the least amount of games and has had significant changes to their roster. The US Division, which was incredibly strong in the 2017-2018 season, will prove to be a difficult test for the Oil Kings.
More than just the teams, the US Divisions road trip has always been a difficult test of the Oil Kings. So many games in so few nights and so much travel makes this one of the hardest road trips the Oil Kings can undertake. That it is occurring fairly early in their season will result in extra pressure to maximize the amount of points possible and build on their strong start.
The Oil Kings will need to clean up their game a little bit as they took six penalties in Cranbrook and one of them resulted in power play goal for the Ice. The Oil Kings play in Rogers Place, when it was successful, was marked by a lack of penalties. The Oil Kings were able to stay out of the penalty box and limit the chances that their opponents had for easy points. The Oil Kings will have to recapture that smart and skilled game – something which was absent in their game against the Saskatoon Blades – and refuse to let their opponents dictate the game. If the Oil Kings are in a place of reacting, they don’t the hockey that got them off to a 5-0-0 start on the season. They revert to playing something much more like the game that landed them last place in the WHL in the 2017-2018.
The results of the US Division road trip will definitely have a major impact on the Oil Kings season. Strong results will make the team one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, give them momentum, and make securing that coveted playoffs spot so much easier.