After months of off-season preparation and two days of evaluation, the next generation of Alberta’s NHL stars faced off in Camrose Sunday night. Although the game started slowly due to finicky panes of plexiglass, a goaltending duel soon developped between Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk and Calgary's Matt Keetley, with Keetley emerging victorious thanks to a perfect 23-save performance.
Three minutes in, Calgary forward Ryley Grantham offered Edmonton the first powerplay of the tournament by taking a holding penalty. Though the young Oil were unable to create any chances on the man-advantage, after the return of five-on-five, the puck nearly bumbled past Keetley for the best scoring opportunity of the game so far.
A second Oilers powerplay near the period's halfway point gave the home team another chance to test Keetley, but Calgary's Brett Sutter surged in on Dubnyk shorthanded and wired the puck into the mesh to put the Flames up 1-0.
An inspiring breakaway by Oilers hopeful Colin McDonald had the potential to even things up, but Keetley robbed the speedy winger to maintain his club's one-goal lead through to the end of the first period.
Steady goaltending at both ends of the ice triggered shoving matches near the nets in the early part of the second, eventually resulting in another man-advantage for the Oilers.
A rocket courtesy of Ryan MacMurchy found the post but not the net, and as Calgary returned to full strength and broke the 15-shot mark, Dubnyk's quick reflexes kept the game within one.
The Flames dominated the following five minutes, and as the Oilers rookies made headway in the neutral zone, a three-man collision near the penalty boxes prompted Edmonton's Hans Benson to pounce on Calgary's Matt Pelech. The action cost Benson a four-minute roughing major and 10-minute misconduct.
After three minutes on duty, home penalty killers were relieved by too many men on the visiting side and four-on-four play carried the Oilers into the Flames zone. Despite narrowing the shot-gap to 19-17, Edmonton continued to be stymied by Keetley and entered the third period at a one-goal disadvantage.
Five minutes into the third, Geoff Paukovich slammed Kyle Greentree behind the Oilers net. Though the young Flame attempted to rise up to his knees, team trainer Morris Boyer assessed that a stretcher would be required and Greentree was carried off the ice. Paukovich also left the ice, having earned five minutes for boarding and a game misconduct.
Despite battling another shorthanded stretch, Dubnyk and his penalty killers excelled and kept the Flames to a lone shot. In the final seven minutes of the game, blueliner Taylor Chorney drilled Keetley with a shot and then swept in to snag a rebound, but the goalie continued his spotless performance and kept the young Oil searching for the equalizer.
Six skaters in the final minute ensured the club applied steady pressure, but the final push proved unsuccessful and Edmonton's rookies fell 1-0 to Calgary's first years.