POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.29.2015 / 10:40 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

A three-goal run in the first and second periods lifted the Kelowna Rockets to an important 3-2 win over Portland, tying their WHL Western Conference Final series at 2-2.

Oilers prospect Leon Draisaitl scored a goal at 7:50 of the first period, tying the game at 1-1. That goal sparked two more from Kelowna, giving them a 3-1 lead.

Nicolas Petan scored at 12:03 of the second, but that’s as close as the Winterhawks would get to completing their comeback bid.

Jackson Whistle made 14 saves in the third period for Kelowna to help seal the win.

Draisaitl also chipped in an assist on Kelowna’s third goal of the night, at 9:16 of the second on the power play. Draisaitl leads Kelowna in playoff scoring with 19 points in 13 games.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.28.2015 / 11:14 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Oilers 2014 third-overall pick, Leon Draisaitl, scored a goal in Kelowna’s 7-3 loss to Portland in game three of the WHL Western Conference Final.

Draisaitl’s goal was his fifth of the playoffs and 17th point in 12 games so far. He finished game three -1 with two penalty minutes.

Kelowna outshot Portland 44-40, but the Winterhawks got the early jump on the Rockets. Portland scored the game’s opening three goals, and had a 5-1 lead at one point.

The Winterhawks lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1. Game four is in Portland on Wednesday night.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.28.2015 / 8:35 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The Erie Otters took a 3-1 series in the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final, with a 7-5 win over Darnell Nurse and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The first period scoring began with Jean Dupuy’s goal just 38 seconds into the game to give Sault Ste. Marie a short-lived 1-0 lead. Dupuy was assisted by Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse and Justin Bailey.

Nicholas Baptiste answered for Erie at 2:35 of the opening frame, assisted by the top-ranked 2015 draft prospect, Connor McDavid, and Remi Ellie.

Although McDavid couldn’t find twine, he finished the game with four assists.

“(McDavid is) a heck of a player, he’s a dynamic player, he competes, he wins battles, he’s great to watch. I’m glad I’m able to watch him tonight,” said Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli, who was at the game and was interviewed on the broadcast.

The Otters and Greyhounds exchanged goals to make it 2-2 heading into the second.

Nick Ritchie passed the puck out in front to Gabe Guertier for the Sault Ste. Marie lead at 8:09 of the second period.

Baptiste, a 2013 third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, scored his second of the night at 11:24 of the second, on the power play, to even things up at three.

After a Jared McCann third-period goal for the Greyhounds, Erie tied things up once again when NHL Central Scouting’s fourth-ranked North American skater, Dylan Strome, scored on the power play, assisted by McDavid and Travis Dermott.

Nurse came to the defence of a teammate who was hit after the whistle and went to the box for roughing, which gave Erie that power play. McDavid tossed it in front and Strome scooped and scored at 3:32 of the third.

Strome finished the game -1 with a goal and an assist. Nurse finished +1 with two penalty minutes and a helper.

Baptiste earned the hat trick at 13:23 of the third, giving Erie a 6-4 lead.

Sault Ste. Marie did get within one again, but Baptiste’s fourth goal of the night sealed the Erie win at 19:22 of the final frame.

Game five is on Thursday, in Sault Ste. Marie.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.28.2015 / 2:02 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Oilers Entertainment Group announced today that Aquila Productions has received 12 nominations for the 2015 Alberta Film & Television (Rosie) Awards.

Aquila Productions is owned by OEG and based in Edmonton.

Aquila received four nominations for “Oil Change: Game On,” a documentary series covering the Oilers franchise. They also received six nominations for “Scout’s Honor,” one nomination for their live production of Tour of Alberta and one nomination for their production of the 1984 Legacy Reunion Gala.

The Alberta Media Production Industries Association Awards celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement in Alberta film, television and new media.

POSTED ON Sunday, 04.26.2015 / 7:50 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

Connor McDavid showed, once again, why he is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater heading into the 2015 NHL Draft. McDavid scored two goals, including a beautiful shorthanded tally, as the Erie Otters took a 2-1 series lead over Darnell Nurse and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, with a 4-2 win.

On a shorthanded breakaway in the first period, McDavid went full-Forsberg. In a throwback to Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg, McDavid slipped the puck past Greyhounds goaltender Brandon Halverson, one-handed. That goal at 10:51 was assisted by Remi Ellie and gave Erie a 2-0 lead.

McDavid’s second goal came at 1:01 of the second period as he flipped a backhand behind Halverson, unassisted. That goal made it 3-1, Erie.

McDavid now has 18 goals and 32 points in 12 playoff games, leading the OHL.

The Greyhounds made a push, making it a 3-2 game at 14:57 of the second. Anaheim Ducks 2014 first-round pick, Nick Ritchie, scored his 13th goal of the playoffs, assisted by Tyler Ganly and Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse.

Nurse, taken seventh overall in 2013, logged a lot of ice time, rarely leaving the game for long, and had an assist and two penalty minutes.

It was Nick Betz who opened the scoring for Erie at 5:55 of the first period, assisted by Cory Genovese and Troy Donnay.

Nicholas Baptiste closed out the 4-2 win for Erie with an empty-net goal at 18:21 of the third.

Ganly was the other goal scorer for Sault Ste. Marie, potting one at 16:39 of the first.

Dylan Strome, NHL Central Scouting’s fourth-ranked North American skater, finished the game with no points.

Game four of the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final will be played in Erie again this Tuesday at 5 p.m. MDT. Fans can tune in on Sportsnet 360.

POSTED ON Saturday, 04.25.2015 / 10:09 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The Oklahoma City Barons continued their comeback ways in game two against San Antonio, battling back from down 3-0 to tie in the game’s final minute, and Connor Jones made no mistake in overtime, netting the winner and lifting OKC to a 2-0 series lead.

The Barons got the 4-3 win, but it was a tough road to that finish.

For the first few shifts of the game, the Barons seemed to have the jump. Right off the opening draw, 10 seconds in, Jason Williams had a breakaway on the new Rampage starter, Michael Houser. Dan Ellis started in San Antonio’s game one loss.

Despite the quick start for OKC, the Rampage took over in the first period. Connor Brickley tipped a shot in past Laurent Brossoit at 9:16. Brett Olson and Corban Knight earned the helpers.

On the power play, San Antonio took a 2-0 lead at 12:34 of the first. Knight put away a rebound, assisted by Brickley and Jesse Blacker.

Brossoit had his work cut out for him in the first, as the Barons were outshot 18-9 in the opening 20 minutes.

It didn’t get much easier in the second. John McFarland worked his way around Martin Marincin and put the puck through Brossoit’s legs for the 3-0 Rampage lead at 6:44 of the middle frame. Edmonton native Alex Petrovic recorded the lone assist.

Brossoit was pulled in favour of Richard Bachman, in the hopes that a change would spark a reaction from the team.

The Barons hit the post moments later, with players celebrating as if it was a goal. Unfortunately, it never crossed the line.

Bachman made a good save following a scramble in front with six minutes remaining in the second period.

Andrew Miller set up Barons Captain Ryan Hamilton for OKC’s first goal of the game at 17:27 of the middle frame to make it 3-1. Joshua Winquist earned the second assist on the power play goal.

The Barons inched even closer when Jordan Oesterle struck on the man advantage with 3:17 remaining in the third period. C.J. Stretch and Williams had the assists.

Matthew Ford netted the equalizer with a tip in front of the Rampage net with 36 seconds remaining in the game.

It was Jones who scored the winner at 4:01 of the overtime period, assisted by Ford and Oesterle.

The Barons hope to get the sweep, of the best-of-five series, in game three on Wednesday night.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.24.2015 / 5:48 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers announced some significant changes to the structure of their organization on Friday. Newly appointed CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group Bob Nicholson introduced Peter Chiarelli as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager at a press conference at the Hotel Macdonald.

“We are delighted to bring a person of Peter’s considerable hockey knowledge and experience to the Edmonton Oilers,” said Nicholson. “Peter has had success at all levels of the game and we look forward to his leadership.”

In addition, it was announced that Kevin Lowe would have his responsibilities transition out of hockey operations, but he remains Vice Chair of OEG.

“I support Bob in the changes he has implemented and I am very excited about the bright future for the Edmonton Oilers, the City of Edmonton and Oilers fans everywhere,” Lowe said in a press release. “It has been an honour to represent the Oilers both on and off the ice, and I look forward to my new role in the organization.

Nicholson says the transition with Lowe was not difficult. The two were in the meetings with Chiarelli together and both decided to bring in the former Boston Bruins GM.

“It was not difficult at all,” said Nicholson. “I can tell you that Kevin was in those discussions, with myself, when we talked to Peter and we both agreed through the process that Peter should be the guy that runs hockey top to bottom in this organization. I can’t say enough, the help Kevin has given me through this process and it’s very, very clear that Peter should have the title of President of Hockey Operations and General Manager.”

Former General Manager Craig MacTavish’s role is yet to be defined.

OEG also announced that Patrick LaForge has stepped down as President & COO.

“We thank Patrick for his dedication to the Oilers and Oil Country over the last 15 years. He made a significant mark on the organization and was the driving force behind many successful initiatives,” Nicholson said in a press release.

The trio of executives helping Nicholson grow OEG will be Stew MacDonald, responsible for marketing and revenue, Darryl Bossenkool, who will oversee finance and OEG transition business, and Bob Black, who will continue as Executive Vice President of the Edmonton Arena Corporation, and will head up new business for OEG.

POSTED ON Friday, 04.24.2015 / 5:43 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli doesn’t shy away from taking phone calls from his peers. When it comes to making trades, Chiarelli has a history of being willing.

“In this business, you can’t be afraid to make trades,” he said. “The parity is developing. The way the cap is closing in, the margins are really small so those are ways to improve your team. I’m not afraid of doing it. It has to be the right moment. There are some very good young players on this team. It doesn’t mean I’m going to trade any of them. But those are deals you can’t be afraid to make. They have to be well-measured, you have to be well-informed.”

His most publicized trade is likely the one that sent Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button to Dallas, in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser. The trade showed he is willing to trade a player of Seguin’s talents if it seems like the right time and fit.

“That deal, obviously he’s a very good player and there were reasons for doing it,” he said.

“I’ve actually made a few trades of good, young forwards so that’s something I won’t shy away from. That was a trade that had underlying reasons that I won’t get into, but (Seguin is) a terrific player. He was our leading scorer. That’s what I’ll say about that one.”

POSTED ON Friday, 04.24.2015 / 5:42 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

The process to hire Peter Chiarelli as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager happened very quickly.

Chiarelli became available on April 15. Bob Nicholson became the CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group on Monday and by Friday, Chiarelli had a new home.

The two were very familiar with each other from their time together at Hockey Canada. Nicholson is the former President and CEO of Hockey Canada, and worked with Chiarelli at the 2014 Olympics.

“I really got to know him when we went to Sochi, through the Olympic games, and I really like the way he communicates,” said Nicholson. “He’s a clear communicator, he’s obviously worked in Ottawa and worked in Boston and built those teams together. And how he looks at the game, he sees the game changing and I think he’s going to be flexible to make sure he makes the right changes to put this team going in the right direction.”

OEG Vice Chair Kevin Lowe, who was also part of Team Canada’s management team at the 2014 Olympics, was sitting next to Nicholson in the meetings with Chiarelli. It seemed like the right match for the former Bruins GM.

“One of the reasons it happened really quickly is because I’d known them from before and I really like them, I respect them and I respect their hockey minds and I respect them as people. It made it very easy to be comfortable with the situation,” said Chiarelli.

The process was fast-moving and that’s just fine for Nicholson.

“This has gone so quickly, one of the keys that we talked about was how is your team going to play? If the team is as quick as we got this contract done I think that will be great for the fans,” said Nicholson.

POSTED ON Thursday, 04.23.2015 / 10:10 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - / Inside the Oilers

A big third-period goal by the Barons captain helped spark Oklahoma City to a 5-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage, giving them the 1-0 series lead in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Quarterfinal.

“I thought overall, our game was good,” said Barons Interim Coach Gerry Fleming. “The chances that we created or gave them, I think we created ourselves. We just turned the puck over. Then we started managing the puck and sticking to the game plan, and our special teams were good tonight. We were fortunate, got some bounces and hopefully we’ll get some guys rested up and ready for Saturday.”

The Barons scored on a power play at 12:04 of the opening period for the 1-0 lead. Although Brad Hunt was credited with the goal, it may have been tipped in front.

Vincent Trocheck tied it up at 15:56, assisted by Shane O’Brien and Garrett Wilson.

The Rampage outshot the Barons 12-8 in the opening period, but OKC led 38-31 in that category at the final buzzer.

Oilers prospect Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves for the Barons.

“It’s a lot of emotion. We’re very happy, but at the same time we’re trying to stay as even-keeled as possible,” said Brossoit. “You don’t want to have your emotions ride high and low too much. You’re trying to keep it even. I was just glad that I was seeing the puck, and when they did come I made a couple timely saves and I’m glad I contributed.”

A turnover at the Rampage blueline went the other way and San Antonio potted their second of the game to take a 2-1 lead. That goal, at 8:01 of the second, came off a tip by Rocco Grimaldi, assisted by Jonathan Racine and Quinton Howden.

Hunt fired a great chance off the crossbar later in the period that could have tied things up.

OKC did tie the game following the midway point of the third. Barons Captain Ryan Hamilton toe dragged out in front of the Rampage net, forcing Greg Zanon to take a slashing penalty at 9:33 of the third. Winquist walked in from the point to the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot past Dan Ellis at 10:22, on the power play, to tie the game at 2-2. Hunt and Andrew Miller each earned assists.

Hamilton put home his own rebound with a great individual effort, with 5:55 remaining in the third, giving the Barons a 3-2 lead.

Unfortunately, a questionable hit would take the Barons captain out of the game shortly after. Hamilton beat Shane O’Brien to the puck behind the net by a wide margin and the Rampage forward sent him into the boards with a heavy hit. O’Brien took a boarding penalty and a game misconduct, and was escorted off the ice. Hamilton had to be helped off by teammates.

Connor Jones scored on the empty net at 18:39 of the final frame for some insurance.

The Barons, visibly upset by the O’Brien hit, engaged in some pushing and shoving in the game’s final minute.

With 7.6 seconds left in the game, Matthew Ford potted a second empty-net goal for the 5-2 win.

“I don’t think we went into this series thinking they’re a better team than us,” said Brossoit of the team’s confidence, following the win. “They beat us more (in the regular season) than we beat them, but I honestly think it was because we were short staffed and had injuries and all that. When we’re a full lineup and we’ve got all our players back I think we have the edge.”

Game two is on Saturday night at 6 p.m. MDT in Oklahoma City.