The weather was gorgeous in Camrose for the Oil Country Rookie Tournament, but the result of Tuesday's final game wasn't nearly as sunny for the Oilers first years. Boosted by two powerplay goals, the Canucks defeated the home team 5-2.
The play swept end to end for the first five minutes of the game until Canucks rookie Juraj Simek took a high-sticking penalty and put the Oilers on the powerplay. The home team assumed a 5-4 shot lead on the man-advantage but were unable to beat goalie Cory Schneider.
But after the return of five-on-five, the lamp was lit at both ends of the ice. First to hit the scoreboard was first-round pick Jordan Eberle
, who snapped the puck past Schneider to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead. 41 seconds later, Canucks defenceman Patrick Coulombe evened things up by beating Glenn Fisher from the middle of the far face-off circle.
With the game back on even terms, Hans Benson and Kyle Neuber went toe-to-toe near the benches, earning five minutes each for fighting. With both players in the penalty boxes, Canucks forward Dan Gendur broke broke into the Oilers zone on a breakaway but was hauled down from behind. By going five-hole and beating Fisher on the resulting penalty shot, Gendur gave the Canucks their first lead of the game and their first of the tournament.
Though the young Oil continued to lead the shot-clock, the Canucks kept coming. After a failed clearing attempt at the Oilers blue line, Simek and Prab Rai carried the puck back up the slot and set up Cody Hodgson for a textbook backhand that beat Fisher.
A late slashing penalty to winger Colin McDonald ensured the Oilers would come back from the first intermission down a man and two goals.
Three minutes into the second, fans in Camrose were treated to another penalty shot -- this time awarded to Oilers forward Bryan Lerg. But Lerg was unable to deke around Schneider's left pad and Vancouver's netminder maintained his club's two-goal cushion. Plenty of scoring chances ensued, but missed shots and solid goaltending kept the score stuck at 3-1.
Though both clubs had trouble scoring at even strength, another penalty to McDonald gave the Canucks the opportunity to increase their lead. Only four seconds into the man-advantage, Scott Howes capitalized, surprising Fisher with a quick shot and pushing Vancouver to a 4-1 lead.
A flurry of infractions following the goal put the home team at a two-man disadvantage for 23 seconds, but the club resisted pressure from the Canucks powerplay and closed ot the second period with a three-goal deficit.
Oilers penalty killers were off the ice for only a few short minutes until defenceman Milan Maslonka earned a high-sticking penalty, offering the Canucks their sixth powerplay of the game. But patience soon paid off for the copper and blue as the Canucks drained their powerplay and then suffered a pair of penalties to give the Oilers 1:23 of five-on-three.
Though the club was unable to beat Schneider on the powerplay, the goalie finally submitted to the swarming rookies, relinquishing a glove-side goal to the persistent Lerg. Another Vancouver penalty kept Edmonton on the offensive, but the Canucks defenders did an excellent job of breaking up passes, preventing the Oilers from further narrowing the gap.
With three minutes left in the game, the gap grew in the other direction. After streaking up the slot, Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored Vancouver's fifth goal of the game, prompting a frustrated Maslonka to drop gloves with Neuber at the following face-off.
The fight affected the penalty clock but not the scoreclock and the Oilers rookies dropped a 5-2 decision to the Canucks rookies in Camrose.