Oilers Rookies beat Bears 3-2
The Oilers and University of Alberta Golden Bears celebrated 20 years of pre-season competition with another fierce battle between future hockey stars Monday night.
In the jam-packed confines of the University's Clare Drake Arena, the Oilers were at an early disadvantage due to a double roughing minor to rookie winger Garet Hunt, but the Bears were unable to score on the powerplay -- a problem that would frustrate the home team throughout the game.
Though Edmonton carried the official shot lead through the first eight minutes, the U of A looked sharp and kept the NHL prospects scrambling in their own zone. But near the period's midway point, the young Oil beat back the Bears and attacked. Poised in the slot, Phillippe Cornet received a feed from Bryan Lerg and directed it behind Bears goalie Aaron Sorochan to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, last-minute roster addition Milan Maslonka stationed himself at the point and one-timed the puck past Sorochan to double the visitor's lead. Lerg was credited wth his second assist of the game.
Although Maslonka earned an interference penalty shortly after the goal, the Oilers maintained their perfect penalty killing and headed to the first intermission up 2-0.
74 seconds into the second period, the Bears cut their deficit back to one. Though Pitton made an initial pad save, the rebound went out to Derek Ryan who wired it cross-crease to Kyle Pess. Press fired into the open net to put the Bears on the scoreboard.
The goal ignited the bloodthirsty Bears. With a cluster of college kids on his doorstep, Pitton found himself down on the ice and out of position. The puck was temporarily lost in the jumble, but Jesse Gimblett sniffed it out and lifted it over the goalie to tie things up 2-2.
At the game's midway point, the Bears led the shot-count 22-13 and the Oilers opted to put Andrew Perugini between the pipes. The new netminder carried the club to its first powerplay when Bears centre Eric Hunter served two minutes for goaltender interference.
Despite the man-advantage, the Oilers were unable to register a shot and closed out the frame on the penalty kill thanks to a tripping penalty to Justin Chwedoruk.
After being outshot 18-2 in the second period, the Oilers were desperate for an offensive spark and they received it from an unlikely source. Only 36 seconds into the period and playing shorthanded, winger Marc-Andre Bernier floated into the left face-off circle and snapped the puck past Sorochan to renew the rookies' one-goal lead.
Five minutes later, Bernier nearly registered his second goal of the game, but a penalty to Oiler Milan Kytnar kept the goal off the clock and put the visitors back on the PK. Another clean two minutes and strong goaltending from Perugini through to the end of regulation secured a 3-2 victory for the Oilers, the club's first win of the pre-season and 10th vs. the Bears since the tradition started in 1988-99.