The Oilers top line started as Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle centred by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But as the game wore on, Head Coach Dallas Eakins tinkered with the lineup, and third-line winger Curtis Hamilton got bumped to the top with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.
Hamilton, a second-round pick in 2010, showed he’s a hard worker and played well in his promotion. After battling adversity with knee injuries, Hamilton deserved the opportunity.
“He needs it,” Eakins said. “You cheer for kids like that because he’s been hurt a lot, he comes in, he’s worked hard over the summer and that’s another one where it’s like, ‘alright, let’s throw him up there with two very good NHL players and see how he responds.’”
“When we shook (the lineup), I felt like everybody started to respond a little bit and I’m sure that’s exciting for Curtis to be able to play with those two guys.”
Tyler Pitlick got his taste of the NHL last season. The 2010 second-round pick played 10 games for the Oilers, scoring one goal.
It was a conversation he had with his American Hockey League coach in Oklahoma City that made him realize what it took to make it to the NHL.
“I’ve always kind of hand a little bit of physicality in my game, I’ve always kind of played that way,” Pitlick said. “But I think with Todd Nelson down in OKC, he told me that if I wanted to make the NHL I was going to have to hit guys and skate hard up and down my wing and just play a simple game.”
A simple game is what earned Pitlick his first NHL call-up. Now he’s hoping to stick and he’s willing to take on any role asked of him.
“Whatever it takes,” he said.
“I’ll play five minutes a night, hitting guys every shift if that’s what it takes.”
Travis Ewanyk will suit up on the Oilers fourth line in their pre-season game against the Jets in Winnipeg tonight. It’s an opportunity for the 2011 third-round pick to prove he’s a better player coming off of his first professional season, with the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League.
“I feel it went really well,” Ewanyk said of last season. “It’s obviously a bit of an adjustment coming out of junior where you’re one of the bigger, stronger guys. Then you go into pro and you realize the size and the skill that guys have. But I gained a lot of confidence. (Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson) threw me into a lot of different situations throughout the year. Just this year, coming into my games, I feel so much more confident than I was last year and I know I can play at this level.”
Ewanyk finished the 2013-14 season with 12 points (7-5-12) in 68 games for the Barons, and recorded 100 penalty minutes. He was selected 74th overall in 2011.
Competitive Thread was in town to put the Oilers through a RHIET test at training camp on Tuesday morning. The nerves started to sink in after practice.
“When practice was over I was so nervous,” Nail Yakupov said. “I don’t know why, it just always happens with me. You just start to think about it. But you’ve just got to do it like Dallas says, just put your head down and skate as hard as you can.”
RHIET stands for Repeated High Intensity Endurance Test. The players skate the length of the ice down and back a number of times with limited rest between sets. It becomes a daunting task after the first couple of sets.
“The first two sets are actually not that bad,” Leon Draisaitl said. “It’s just up the ice and back so it’s not that bad. But numbers three, four, five and six are when you really start to feel it in your legs and start to feel the burn. It gets pretty tough from three on.”
Yakupov added, “You’ve just got to skate as hard as you can you have to push yourself, that’s the thing. It’s easy but at the same time it is really really hard but it’s just three minutes. You just think that it’s just three minutes and then it’s over. We push hard and I think the first two was easier then the third and the fourth were really important and really tough so you’ve got to push and then the last two, you’ve just got to make it down.”
Oilers winger Nail Yakupov knows what it’s like coming to North America from Russia and not comprehending the language or understanding the new and different world. So when Bogdan Yakimov came over to Canada from Russia, Yakupov was there for him.
“Obviously, I’ve been with ‘Big Bo’ for two months here,” Yakupov said. “I’ve probably seen him five times each week the whole time and he asks me questions about the league, about the training, about life and about everything… I try to help him because he’s my exact copy of when I got here in my first year in Canada when I played for Sarnia. It was the same thing with no English, a different world and the same way with how I used my teammate Alex Galchenyuk.”
Yakimov was taken 83rd overall in 2013. This is really his first experience in Canada and it’s been nice to have Yakupov around to help him adjust. Yakupov is just 20-years-old, but he’s taken on a kind of veteran leadership with players like Yakimov, 19, and fellow Russian Vladimir Tkachev, 18.
“I think it’s good for him and I’m glad we have some Russians and guys like ’95, ’95 guys. I’m trying to help them. I’m trying to be a little (bit of a) dad you know. It’s good, especially with Bogdan because we lived in the same city (in Russia). We’ve known each other for a while. I will be 100% available for him with any questions via phone, text, conversation or anything and everything.”
The Oilers fly to Winnipeg tomorrow for an exhibition game against the Jets. The lineup skating in Leduc this morning, which will play against Winnipeg, is as follows:
The Oilers have returned forward Chris Baltisberger to Zurich of Switzerland's National League A. He was on a tryout with the team.
Training camp update --> The #Oilers have returned forward Chris Baltisberger to Zurich of Switzerland's National League A.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2014
Baltisberger, 22, scored nine points (3-6-9) in 48 games for Zurich last season. This year, he already has two goals and three assists in three games.
Baltisberger recorded two shots on goal in Sunday night’s pre-season game against the Flames in Calgary.
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."