Team White wins opening scrimmage in shootout
In a match-up worthy of being the first scrimmage in the 2007 Edmonton Oilers training camp, Team White defeated Team Blue 3-2 in a shootout Friday morning. Ales Hemsky created a turnover in the neutral zone before breaking in alone on Team Blue netminder Dwayne Roloson. Hemsky took advantage of the golden opportunity and wristed a shot over the glove of Roloson, giving Team White a 1-0 lead 12 seconds in.
"The first couple days are always tough in training camp. A lot of skating and a lot of working out in the gym, stuff like that so it's good to get the legs going," Hemsky stated.
The fireworks continued when Adam Huxley picked up where he left off at rookie camp and took on 6'5" tough guy Ryan Flinn. Despite giving away five inches in height advantage, Huxley held his own in the fight. Flinn had some big punches early but Huxley was elusive enough that he rarely connected. The fight ended in a draw but Flinn broke his thumb.
"You've got guys that are out there having played five or six years. Guys that are pretty high calibre players internationally," said Huxley. "Good players rise to the occasion and I felt good out there."
It was Huxley's first opportunity to show Oilers fans why he was such a fan favourite in Stockton (ECHL) last year.
"I'd like to show what I can do, whatever that takes," he continued. "I think I did that today."
Liam Reddox, who also had a strong rookie camp, scored the first goal for Team Blue at the 5:40 mark. Fredrik Johansson knocked down a clearing attempt along the side boards before finding Reddox in front. His shot went past Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to tie it at 1-1.
Before the first period of the two-period scrimmage ended, Oilers fans got their first look at what Dustin Penner can do. Penner corralled the puck in the corner before finding Zack Stortini open at the right hashmarks. Stortini looked like a pure goal scorer as he wired a shot top corner to make it 2-1 Team Blue.
After one period, shots on goal were 8-7 for Team White.
Glenn Fisher replaced Deslauriers in goal for Team White to start period two while Dwayne Roloson stayed in between the pipes for Team Blue.
Ales Hemsky almost tied the game about six minutes into the second half when he dnagled through a number of Blue defenders before getting a clean chance on Roloson but the Oilers netminder made a nice save.
Sebastien Bisaillon also had a great chance later in the period. After moving in behind a Team Blue defender he let a blast go. Rob Schremp was right there for the rebound but Roloson again came up big.
It looked as if Team Blue was going to come away with the win and the chance to sleep in on Saturday but with five seconds to go Marc Pouliot took a pass from Andrew Cogliano and put it in behind Roloson to tie the game at 2-2. White put on the majority of the pressure in the period, outshooting Blue 6-3 and 14-10 in the game overall.
With the game tied, the two sides played a five-minute running time overtime period. Team White had all the pressure early and Rob Schremp drew a penalty when he was upended by William Quist behind the net.
With Quist in the box, Team White moved the puck very well on the four-on-three power play. On the ice was Hemsky, Cogliano, Ladislav Smid and Steve Staios for the majority of the man advantage. However, they were unable to convert - sending the game to a shootout.
In the shootout, Zack Stortini once again continued his offensive prowess as the only Team Blue player to beat Glenn Fisher. Stortini wristed a shot high glove side that found the top corner.
However, it was Team White that emerged victorious on the strength of Andrew Cogliano's five-hole deke followed by Geoff Paukovich's ultimate winner as the seventh shooter. Paukovich backhanded it through the legs of Roloson to earn his side a little more time on Saturday morning.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, who manned the bench behind Team Blue, thought it was a good start but there was plenty to work on.
"We were hanging on to the puck too much. You've got to let the puck do the work for you, you've got to move the puck quickly. That's the way the ice is going to open up, by moving the puck. We've got a lot of guys that have that ability," said MacTavish. "That will open up the ice for the forwards and they'll be more productive because of it."
One defenceman who moved the puck well was Ales Hemsky, who played about half the game on defence. His side only had three defencemen with Sheldon Souray out due to a tweaked back.
"We just had three D today so I played half a game on D. The guys were tired so I jumped there and played D for a little bit."
Although Hemsky at times looked comfortable moving the puck back there, it wasn't something he would consider on a regular basis.
"It's all right. If you're smart you don't have to skate as much," he said. "It's a little different but it's not something I would want to play."
SHOOTOUT RESULTS (scorers in bold)
Blue: Horcoff, Torres, Penner, Stortini, Gagner, Reddox, Johansson
White: Schremp, Cogliano, Pouliot, Trukhno, Hemsky, O'Marra, Paukovich.
NOTES: Alex Plante (charley horse) and Sheldon Souray (back) did not skate today... Ryan Flinn broke his thumb in the fight with Adam Huxley.