The Edmonton Oil Kings opened the second round of the WHL playoffs with a bang. The Oil Kings, who didn’t look terribly settled against Medicine Hat, opened their second round series against the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday April 6th. The Calgary Hitmen, who had eliminated the higher seeded Lethbridge Hurricanes in a see-saw first round series, are perhaps the Oil Kings most notable rival in the WHL.
A great deal of this notability comes from the traditional Battle of Alberta mentality which surrounds sports fans in Edmonton and Calgary and the fact that over one quarter of the teams in the WHL are located in Alberta has no bearing on it. For instance, no one was labelling either the Oil Kings’ or the Hitmen’s first round series as a Battle of Alberta despite fulfilling the requirements.
No, the Battle of Alberta is reserved for Edmonton and Calgary games no matter the sport or the dispersion of other teams in the league involved. So, the round in the WHL playoffs is the Battle of Alberta. Adding some extra spice to the Battle of Alberta this season is the fact that the Hitmen’s current head coach, Steve Hamilton, was the Oil Kings head coach until the end of last season.
Hamilton, in his time as head coach for the Oil Kings, accumulated two first round exits in the playoffs and two years where the team missed the playoffs altogether. In that respect, his time in Calgary has already been more successful. However, Hamilton’s less than stellar results in Edmonton – coupled with a variety of unpopular personnel discussions – make Hamilton’s return to play against his former team an interesting one.
The Oil Kings fan base certainly hasn’t been shy around sharing their opinions.
The first game saw the Oil Kings eliminate a two goal deficit and win 3-2 in overtime. The second game, a commanding effort by the Oil Kings yielded a 4-1 win. The series shifted back to Calgary where the Oil Kings were pushed to overtime by the Hitmen with about a minute left in the third period. They rallied to win 2-1 in overtime. The Oil Kings finished their series sweep with a 6-0 shutout victory on Wednesday night. The Oil Kings sweep of Calgary is their first since they completed a first round sweep of the Prince Albert Raiders in 2014.
The series against Calgary improves the Oil Kings excellent road record. The Oil Kings have, so far, won four of five road games they’ve played. The Oil Kings will need that excellent road record as their next opponent has yet to be decided, but is one of two teams they don’t have the best record against this year.
The Prince Alberta Raiders won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the regular season champions and the Saskatoon Blades finished the season with 98 points. The Blades season compares well with the Oil Kings 92 point season and they split the season series against the Blades – which they cannot say about the Raiders. This may make the Blades the Oil Kings preferred opponent based on the numbers.
However, with the Prince Albert- Saskatoon series currently tied at two games each, the Oil Kings and their fans will be hoping for a very physical and exhausting 7 game series with a lot of overtime for their opponent.
Upcoming Oil Kings game dates will be released when the Oil Kings know their third round opponent.