Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oil Kings Main Camp Thoughts

Photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
The Edmonton Oil Kings wrapped up their main camp with the annual Red/White Game on Wednesday night in Fort Saskatchewan.  Team Red downed Team White 4-2 in a tightly contested affair.  Curtis Lazar was a force as usual for Team White, scoring the game winner and wowing fans with rushes, and big hits.  Logan Ferguson, Cody Corbett, and Cole Benson into an empty net tallied for White, meanwhile Branden Klatt and Brandon Baddock scored for Red as they mounted a furious third period comeback.

One of the most interesting battles in camp is for the backup goaltender position behind returning netminder Tristan Jarry.  Jarry did not play in the Red/White game, allowing the four remaining goalies to battle it out.  Patrick Dea, the Oil Kings first round Bantam pick in 2012, is an option, but he is only 16 years old.  He has shown huge strides in his game but did allow three goals in the intrasquad game.

Tyler Santos, his teammate on Team Red, was rock solid in his 30 minutes of action, stopping all 25 shots he faced.  Santos is 19 and played in Bonnyville of the AJHL last year.  He has not played a regular season WHL game, but does not have NCAA eligibility due to his time with the Prince George Cougars.

Austin Shaw, a big goalie out of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, has been very solid at camp as well.  The 17 year old was a free agent invite to last year's camp and as since played himself into the discussion as a possible option behind Jarry.

The final goalie still in the mix is 18 year old Tanner McCorriston.  He played midget AAA last season for the Knights of Columbus.  McCorriston improved as camp progressed and jumped ahead of other goalies who attended.  He was named the Alberta Midget Hockey League's top goaltender last season.
Photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
Up front there are a few spots open from last year's Eastern Conference Championship winning team.  TJ Foster, Dylan Wruk, and Trevor Cheek have graduated as 20 year olds.  Michael St. Croix, and Travis Ewanyk are eligible to play pro, and Stephane Legault announced he will be attending NAIT, forgoing his 20 year old season.

Expect Riley Keiser, a 20 year old acquired from Vancouver this off season to slide into the top nine on this team, he has looked impressive early at camp.  Danish import Mads Eller is also a lock, he possesses a ton of speed and should help the Kings on the PK and be able to produce offensively.  Lane Bauer will be on the team if they can get him signed.  Nothing official to report on that front, but according to his Twitter feed it appears as though it is a done deal.  Youngsters Andrew Koepp, and Brayden Brown have made a strong impression so far, and are battling the likes of Tyler Robertson or Mitch Walter, the Oil Kings second rounder in 2011, for roster spots.

The blue line is where the team will see the biggest changes.  Keegan Lowe, David Musil, and Marty Gernat are all likely to play professional hockey this season.  There is a big question mark around Griffin Reinhart, the club's captain who did not attend camp.  Instead, Reinhart was on Long Island, getting ready for Islanders camp.  Look for Ben Carroll, and Aaron Irving to make the club, joining incumbents Dysin Mayo, Ashton Sautner, Cody Corbett, and Stephen Shmoorkoff.  My guess is the Kings will carry eight defensemen including Reinhart, so there is one spot open for a youngster to make the club.  I'd look at guys like Jesse Mills, Cole Josefchak, or Chance Patterson to be the front runners for that spot.
Photo: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
The Oil Kings now enter the preseason where they will play five games.  The schedule kicks off on Saturday night in St. Albert when they face the Swift Current Broncos at their annual preseason tournament.  The Kings face the Red Deer on Sunday night to wrap up the weekend.  They will travel to Prince George for a pair of games on September 6th and 7th, before closing the exhibition schedule against the Rebels in Lacombe on September 13th.

The Kings open up their seventh WHL season at home on Friday September 20th against the Calgary Hitmen.  The team is teasing 'History in the Making' as their promo for the game. Puck drops at 7.  All games are on The Team 1260.