INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 9:59 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

Jujhar Khaira and Darnell Nurse teamed up for a pair of goals and Brad Hunt added a goal and three assists to lead the Oklahoma City Barons to a 7-4 win over the Utica Comets Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center, evening the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals series at 2-2.

In his first game of the playoffs, Nurse recorded three assists. His first gave the Barons a 1-0 lead at 9:30 of the first period, when he centered a pass to the front of the net, where Khaira chipped the puck past Utica goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Khaira and Nurse combined once again for Oklahoma City’s fourth goal at 17:34 of the second period, when again Nurse skidded the puck toward the net and Khaira redirected it past Markstrom to give the Barons a 4-3 lead.

Hunt assisted on the Barons’ second, third and fifth goals, and scored an empty-netter at 17:15 of the third, firing a slap shot from the left circle of the OKC zone that sailed into the center of the vacant Utica net, making the score 7-4. Nurse tallied his third assist on the play.

Oklahoma City was 4-for-7 on the power play, with Khaira’s and Hunt’s goals the even-strength scores.

For a third consecutive game, the Barons were outshot by Utica, 42-24. Barons goaltender Richard Bachman made 38 saves, while Markstrom stopped a pedestrian 17. Utica played the final 5:30 with an empty net and extra attacker.

After Khaira’s first goal gave the Barons a 1-0 lead, Utica’s Hunter Shinkaruk tied the game at 16:21 of the first period, when he wristed a shot from the left-wing circle that caromed off the post and Bachman’s back before trickling into the net. The play was reviewed and upheld by officials.

The Barons took a 2-1 lead 1:16 into the second period. On the power play stemming from a cross-checking penalty to Utica’s Alex Biega in the final second first period play, Hunt sent a shot from the point that was initially knocked down by Markstrom, but OKC’s Andrew Miller jammed the puck through the goalie’s pads for the Barons’ first power play score of the game.

Goals by Utica’s Sven Baertschi at 6:50 and Alex Friesen at 11:34 of the second period gave the Comets a 3-2 lead.

At 13:08 of the second, Hunt sent a shot on net from the right circle that bounced high off Markstrom’s chest, allowing Matt Ford to bat the puck out of the air and past the Utica net minder, knotting the score at three. The goal extended Ford’s playoff point streak to seven games – the entirety of the Barons playoff schedule thus far.

Following Khaira’s second goal that gave the Barons a 4-3 lead, Oklahoma City’s lead grew to 5-3 when Markstrom chased a puck behind the Utica net and his clearing attempt slid to OKC’s Ryan Hamilton, who pushed the puck toward the vacant net, giving the Barons their first multi-goal lead of the series.

Two minutes, seventeen seconds later, Brandon Davidson scored on a wrist shot from the right circle that found its way through Markstrom’s pads to extend the Barons’ lead to 6-3.

Playing with an extra attacker late in the third period, Utica’s Brendan Gaunce cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 6-4, grabbing a pass from Friesen in the right circle and rifling a shot over Bachman’s glove.

The late empty-netter was the first goal of the playoffs for Hunt, who tied for the lead in goals among AHL defenseman during the regular season with 19.

Game Five is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday at the Cox Convention Center.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 9:30 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Erie Otters have been pushed to the brink after falling 6-5 to the Oshawa Generals on Wednesday night. Top-ranked CSS prospect Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists for four points in a losing cause.

Oshawa stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first period but before the period would end, the Otters came back to tie it at 2-2 with McDavid assisting on both goals.

The Generals then scored two more to open the second and take a 4-2 lead. 10 seconds after Oshawa's fourth goal, Jake Marchment scored to make it a one-goal affair. Then McDavid assisted on a goal by Taylor Raddysh to tie it up at 4-4.

Erie took a 5-4 after McDavid ripped a shot from the high slot top corner. Oshawa tied the game at 5-5 with one second left in the middle frame. Neither team scored in the third, sending the match-up to overtime.

In OT, Cole Cassels scored 8:19 in to give Oshawa the win.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.12.2015 / 4:37 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The American Hockey League has announced approval for their new alignment for the 2015-16 season.

The Western Conference’s Pacific Division will be the home of Bakersfield, the Oilers affiliate. They will compete against fellow Pacific Division teams; the Ontario Reign, San Antonio Rampage, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat and the Texas Stars.

The format for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will be finalized at the Board of Governors annual meeting in July.

Bakersfield will become the Oilers primary development team, starting next season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.11.2015 / 10:53 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

Mike Zalewski scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lift the Utica Comets to a 3-2 win over the Oklahoma City Barons and 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals series of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs Monday night at the Cox Convention Center.

One minute, forty-two seconds after Oklahoma City’s Josh Winquist knotted the game at two with a power play goal at 3:08 of the third period, Utica’s Alex Biega sent a shot from the right point that deflected off Zalewski’s stick and past Barons goalie Richard Bachman for the game’s deciding score.

For a second straight game, the Barons were outshot by Utica, registering just 22 shots on net minder Jacob Markstrom to the Comets’ 28.

Unlike the series’ first two games in which the initial scoring team lost, Utica tallied the first goal of Monday’s game early in the first period. After a flurry of shots by the Barons, Utica scored on its first shot of the game when Alexandre Grenier sent a centering pass to Sven Baertschi, who shuffled the puck to Alex Friesen for a backhanded score at 1:20 of the first.

At 12:25 of the first, Grenier gave the Comets a 2-0 lead, grabbing a pass in the slot from Bobby Sanguinetti and spinning around before flipping the puck past a sprawling Bachman.

Oklahoma City got on the board at 15:10 of the first with a shorthanded goal by Andrew Miller, scoring moments after Zalewski left the penalty box during four-on-four play.

After Winquist’s goal tied the game at two, an errant clearing attempt by Oklahoma City’s Martin Marincin led to an icing call, setting up a faceoff in the Barons zone. On the ensuing play, Zalewski netted the game-winner for Utica.

With an assist on Winquist’s goal, Matt Ford registered his eighth point of the postseason, collecting at least one in all six of Oklahoma City’s playoff games.

The teams meet again for Game Four on Wednesday, May 13, in a 7 p.m. start at the Cox Convention Center.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.11.2015 / 10:41 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist as the Kelowna Rockets won 5-3 to take a 3-0 series lead over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Monday night in Kelowna.

With the win, the Rockets are only one win away from a WHL Championship and an appearance in the Memorial Cup. Their next two games are on home ice in Kelowna.

Draisaitl opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal (video above) 6:35 into the first period. Morgan Klimchuk responded 1:13 later for Brandon to get the game on even terms. Gage Quinney regained the lead for the Rockets only 59 seconds after that, sending the home team into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.

Dillon Dube's goal 4:15 into period two increased Kelowna's advantage to 3-1 and before the period would end, Rourke Chartier's 11th of the postseason made it a three-goal game. 26 seconds after Chartier's goal, Brandon responded to send the game into the final frame down a pair. 

Brandon made a game of it in the third period after Tim McGauley's goal midway through made it a 4-3 contest but Chartier's second of the night and 12th of the playoffs -- assisted by Draisiatl -- was the insurance marker.

The two teams play again on Wednesday in Kelowna. Game time is 8:05 p.m. MDT and it can be seen on Shaw TV (channel 10).

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.11.2015 / 8:28 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Highlights | Post-Game Interviews

Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters won on home ice Monday 4-3 to narrow their gap in the series to two games to one over the Oshawa Generals.

McDavid had a goal and an assist to help lead the Otters to the win.

Erie had a 2-0 lead after two late first-period goals by Remi Elie and Alex DeBrincat. That lead carried over through a scoreless middle frame and into the third.

In the third, McDavid scored five minutes in to make it 3-0 for the home team. 1:15 later, Cole Cassels scored to bring the Generals within a pair. With 7:36 to go in the game, Nick Betz scored to give the Otters a 4-1 lead.

Late goals by Sam Harding and Cassels made it 4-3 but that was as close as Oshawa would get.

Game 4 goes Wednesday at 5:35 p.m. MDT. Game 5 will be televised on Sportsnet and is Friday at 5:35 p.m. as well.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.11.2015 / 1:26 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Playing in relief of Laurent Brossoit in game two against San Antonio, Richard Bachman was on point. The Barons goaltender stopped all 16 shots as Oklahoma City rallied for the win, pushing the Rampage to the brink of elimination.

Bachman stopped 35 of 36 in game three, as the Barons advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Again, Bachman was sensational. The netminder made 56 saves as the Barons and Utica Comets went through three full overtime periods before Curtis Hamilton potted the winner 16 seconds into the fourth.

Despite losing to Utica in overtime, 2-1 in game two, Bachman gave them a chance with 36 saves.

“He’s amazing back there,” said Barons forward Connor Jones. “He’s calm, he’s cool and he’s made some incredible saves. Like in game three against San Antonio, he made some big saves. Same as game two. When we’ve made mistakes, he’s been there to back (us up) and you can’t say enough about him.”

The Barons goaltender is leading the AHL with a .84 GAA and .973 save percentage this post-season.

Bachman says his performance is a result of multiple factors, but one is the confidence he gained from a call-up with the Oilers.

“I think it’s a number of different things. I’ve had some pretty good confidence from the time spent up in Edmonton at the end of the year there, to bring that back down with me,” said Bachman. “Part of it is seeing the puck well and a lot of it goes to our defence and our forwards. They’re blocking shots and letting me see the puck and really battling hard in front of the net for me.”

Bachman played six games with the Oilers this season, posting a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage. He finished his time in Edmonton with three-straight wins, making 83 saves on 86 shots in that span.

Bachman is expected to start tonight in game three against Utica, in Oklahoma City.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.10.2015 / 4:46 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

It was a battle that a lot of people around the hockey community were eager to watch— Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds against Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters.

Nurse played huge minutes against the Otters, drawing some big responsibilities. Unfortunately, the Greyhounds lost to the Otters, 4-2 in the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final.

McDavid is the OHL playoffs’ leading scorer with a whopping 43 points (19-24-43) in 17 games. He’s NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater ahead of the 2015 NHL Draft. Nurse says, after playing him, the hype is deserved.

“Obviously, he has a lot of hype but it’s something that he’s earned,” said Nurse. “Obviously, he’s such a great player. He showed in our series the way he’s able to make plays. He’s a special player. It was good to play against him. It was a good challenge for myself and it was good just to go out there and play and have a lot of fun.”

Erie is down 2-0 in their OHL Final best-of-seven series against the Oshawa Generals.

Nurse is in Oklahoma City with the Barons for the Calder Cup Playoffs. OKC takes on Utica in game three of the Western Conference Semifinal on Monday. The series is currently tied 1-1.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.9.2015 / 10:43 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist as the Kelowna Rockets won 5-3 to take a 2-0 series lead over the Brandon Wheat Kings despite having played the first two games on the road.

Brandon opened the scoring only 1:20 into the game before Draisaitl set up Rourke Chartier about 10 minutes later to tie it at 1-1. With three seconds to go in the first, Nick Merkley scored to make it 2-1.

Kelowna extended their lead to 3-1 only 27 seconds into period two. Peter Quenneville scored two goals four minutes apart early in the third to make it a 3-3 game, however.

Midway through the third, Nick Merkley scored his second of the game shorthanded to make it 4-3 and Draisaitl added an empty-netter to wrap it up.

The next three games of the series will be in Kelowna, starting with Game 3 on Monday at 8:05 p.m. MDT.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 05.9.2015 / 10:27 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Erie Otters have fallen behind 2-0 in their best-of-seven Ontario Hockey League Championship Series to the Oshawa Generals after losing Game 2 5-1 on Saturday night.

Top-ranked prospect Connor McDavid had no points and was a -2. It was the first time in these playoffs that McDavid came away without a point. He had a point in each of his first 16 playoff games, scoring 19 goals and 43 points in those games.

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