Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth got the start in net on the road in Calgary for the split-squad pre-season game on Sunday night. As the horn sounded signalling the end of the first period, the Flames were outshooting the Oilers 14-1. However, the score remained 0-0 largely because of the play of Fasth.
Considering that this is one of a handful of pre-season games for Fasth and the Oilers, it was almost a good thing that the Flames tested Fasth early. It gave him an opportunity to find his rhythm after a summer away from game action.
“As long as you save them,” Fasth said of the heavy workload. “But unfortunately they got the win today. But I think we played better and better as long as the game went on. I think we have to take that with us to the next game. I think the PK played really good in front of me and blocked a lot of shots. We’ve got to take those positives with us to the next game.”
The Head Coach for the Oilers in this game was Todd Nelson and he was thoroughly impressed with the way Fasth handled 20 shots in 40 minutes of action. Nelson called Fasth’s performance “outstanding” and says it was good to see him get comfortable early.
“We’d like to play down quite a bit in their end too,” Nelson said. “There’s nothing like getting Viktor into the game early because Calgary came at us pretty hard. Viktor was good. He was controlled in net and if there were rebounds I felt our guys did a pretty good job of playing desperate there and clearing pucks. He’s definitely on his game right now and hopefully that continues.”
Fasth finished the game with 19 saves on 20 shots.
Since 1966 the Memorial Cup well has run dry for the Oil Kings and although they claimed three WHL titles in that span (1971, 1972, and 2012) they failed to bring home any other hardware. Then, last season hopes ran high after Ed Chynoweth’s Cup was brought back to Oil Country and a Memorial Cup title was square in the crosshairs. Comebacks, determination, and fight carried the Oil Kings to the finals where they were crowned the Memorial Cup Champions.
Fast-forward to last night and it was time for the fans to get in on the celebration, time for a duo of banners to be raised to the rafters at Rexall Place.
First, the arena went black and then through a red and blue fog emerged all of the players who will represent the Oil Kings this year. Minus of course the nine players that were attending pro camps over the weekend.
|Photo by Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings|
Then, alumni from 1950, 1963, and 1966 were brought out to centre ice to help welcome the WHL hardware carried by Reid Petryk and the Memorial Cup trophy hoisted by Mitch Moroz.
“It was cool, a pretty special night. It was a good way to cap off last season and for those guys to look ahead to this year and same with myself.”
Over 11,000 fans, a franchise record, watched as the banners were enshrined at the top of Rexall along with all the other reminders of what a historic hockey town Edmonton is.
“Definitely a cool night for the fans and it was a good experience.”
Next for Moroz a trip down to Calgary for the Oilers-Flames split-squad taking place tonight. He will be lined up with Jujhar Khaira and Chris Baltisberger and when speaking to our Chris Wescott about the game plan for tonight, said the following:
“Just keep it simple. I mean I’m playing with two bigger stronger guys. Were going to be asked to keep it simple and be disciplined on all areas on the ice and create some havoc down low.”
As for his personal performance:
“Just try to play a big game and be a presence."
The goaltenders on the ice are Fasth and Brossoit. A starter has not been confirmed.
UPDATE: Fasth is the first goaltender off the ice for the group, making him the likely starter.
Coach Eakins talked about who impressed him on the second on-ice day at training camp.
"We liked Nuge today," he said. "I thought Nuge had a really good day out there. (He was) competing. For me, the best player on the ice."
Eakins also thought that a handful of the off-season acquisitions did well today.
"Nikitin and Fayne were a good pair. We'll keep an eye and see how that goes."
"The one thing we spoke to Anton about last year at the end of the season (is offence). He's shown that he can put up points and make plays at the American Hockey League level. Today, he was making those plays. He stepped out of his comfort zone here. That's hard to do as a player and I thought that was real encouraging."
Lander helped set up a goal by Andrew Ference late in the scrimmage by making a nice play deep in the attacking zone.
"Injury-wise, Petry came in no worse so that's always a good sign with those shoulders. Usually if it's something bad, the next day is not so good," Eakins began. "That's encouraging on him.
"Other notes, Hendricks is fine. I just saw him and he took a shot a little too close to that spot where men like to protect with their lives. So he's alright."
"It was surprising in a way. Ben is a really fast player. I didn't think he had that great of a shot but it's pretty amazing. From the top circle he's a threat to score," Perron began. "Leon put me in a few situations where I was surprised how much time I had. It was good to see his playmaking skills."
"I think his pace is going to improve as we go along, too. He'll get to know what the speed is and he's a player that seems to be adjusting to whatever level he needs to."
Perron talked about expectations for the German pivot.
"He's a player, no matter what's required of him he's going to learn. The best favour you guys could do for him is not put too much pressure on him. (He's not going to) come in and be a saviour. He'll be a regular player and play with hard work and passion every night. The points are going to come."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring nearly 17 minutes in, banging the puck in past Ben Scrivens on a scramble in front of the goalmouth. Seven minutes later, Kellen Jones took advantage of a loose puck travelling across the crease and neatly backhanded it inside the right post.
In the second half, Blue increased its lead to 3-0 after Alex Krushelnyski wired a shot top corner from the high slot.
White made it interesting with late goals by Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Ference but it wasn't enough.
Fasth (blue) vs Scrivens (white)
Blue shots - 10
White shots - 6
BLUE - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 16:55
BLUE - Kellen Jones 23:25
11:15 - tripping - Tkachev (white)
14:55 - interference - purcell (white)
Rimmer/Bouchard(blue) vs Brossoit (white)
Blue shots - 9
White shots - 9
BLUE - Krushelnyski (Holmberg) 16:00 - wired puck top corner from the slot
WHITE - Hamilton 24:40
WHTE - Ference (Lander, Pakarinen) 26:42
11:45 - hooking - Gernat (blue)
Lines, defence pairings and goaltenders:
Pouliot - Draisaitl - Perron
Roy - Acton - Pitlick
Kessy - Yakimov - Chase
Moroz - Khaira - Baltisberger
Gazdic - R.Hamilton - Ford
Marincin - Schultz
Nurse - Boland
Craig - Betker
Connor Boland is skating on defence in place of the injured Jeff Petry.
The second and third groups will hit the ice for a scrimmage at 11:10 a.m.