The Edmonton Oil Kings finished the 2018 calendar year with a pair of victories on home ice. The first came against the visiting Calgary Hitmen in dramatic fashion as the Oil Kings managed a come from behind overtime win. The newest member of the Oil Kings, Andrew Fyten, scored the overtime winner, making a great first impression on Oil Kings fans. The Oil Kings also honoured former assistant and then head coach Steve Hamilton. Hamilton is the current head coach of the Calgary Hitmen and this was his first return to Rogers Place for regular season action.
Hamilton was an assistant coach with the Oil Kings when the won the 2014 Memorial Cup and then stepped in as the new head coach the following year. Hamilton was unable to recapture the magic he had as an assistant coach with the Oil Kings, however, with two first round playoff exits and two years missing the playoffs to mark his time in Edmonton.
The Oil Kings closed out their weekend against the Kootenay Ice. The Oil Kings handily dispatched the Ice 7-4 in regulation. This marks fifth meeting of these two clubs. The newly revised 68 game WHL schedule certainly has had an impact on the Oil Kings schedule. The Ice sit last in the Central Division. The match up involved more back and forth than the score line indicates with the Oil Kings taking the better part of two periods to firmly put themselves in front.
It’s the top of the Central Division which is currently very interesting. The Oil Kings sit in third right now – with 42 points. They have the same number of points as both the Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes but have played three or four more games than either of the teams above them. With 18 wins and 18 losses (in a variety of formats) the Oil Kings will need one of two things to happen. They’ll either have to start the second half of the season strong and gain ground or they’ll need to hope that the games in hand their opponents have don’t result in points.
Still, the Oil Kings are holding on to the last Central Division playoff spot and the Eastern Division (except for Prince Albert) haven’t looked as dominant as last season. If the Oil Kings can keep doing what they’re doing, they have a chance to return to the playoffs.
The injury riddled team will be hoping that Santa brings them some good news on the roster front. If they Oil Kings defense can get a couple players back they will have more flexibility in their roster choices. However, players returning from the injury reserve are going to force Oil Kings management to make some choices about the ridiculous size of their current roster. Not including emergency call ups or players who have been released or traded, the Oil Kings roster currently sits at 26. The WHL mandates that an active roster can be 23 players, so the Oil Kings will be looking to trim their roster when players start returning to the lineup.
The Oil Kings next game will be December 28th at Rogers Place when they’ll welcome the Hitmen back for another Battle of Alberta. The Oil Kings will then play a home and home against Red Deer and start 2019 against a surging Vancouver Giants team.