WHL: Oil Kings Drop Home Opener To Red Deer Rebels

The Edmonton Oil Kings were coming off of a huge win against the Red Deer Rebels Friday night that saw them take a 4-2 victory in Red Deer to open their season. They were hoping they could continue their solid play into their second game and start their season 2-0 in front of their home crowd on Saturday night. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to hold onto their lead and dropped to 1-1-0-0 to start out the 2023-24 Western Hockey League (WHL) regular season. Luckily, they kept the game close all night and never gave up, and only fell 4-3 to the Rebels.

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The Oil Kings decided to scratch overage forward Kian Bell after his one-goal performance in the season opener, and the team decided to dress overage defenseman Jacob Hoffrogge. Hoffrogge played quite well in his 2023-24 season debut but wasn’t able to get on the score sheet. It’s going to be a tough battle for those two all season as they look to keep a spot when the Oil Kings have to drop to three overage players. 

Game Recap

The Oil Kings came out swinging in the first period, but it was pretty even for the majority of the period. Marshall Finnie got on the board first with exactly 60 seconds left in the first period on a goal assisted by John Szabo, and the team took a lead into the second period and led in shots 12-8 over the Rebels. The second period was a high-scoring period with four total goals from both teams combined. 

Aidan Litke, Edmonton Oil Kings (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

Red Deer scored two goals to go up 2-1 and Rebels forward Ollie Josephson was all over them. He had a goal and an assist in the same shift and quickly helped lead his team back over the Oil Kings. Fortunately for the Oil Kings, they were able to score two more goals before the period ended off the sticks of Marc Lajoie and a second goal from Finnie, giving the Oil Kings a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. The Oil Kings also led in shots 25-23.

The third period was a solid period for the Oil Kings, but they weren’t able to hold a lead. After the Rebels tied it late in the third, Kai Uchacz sealed the deal with just over two minutes remaining in the period, scoring to put the Rebels up 4-3. The Rebels ultimately held on to that lead and took the win over the Oil Kings. 

Notes From The Game

Logan Cunningham had the start last night over Kolby Hay and played quite well in net, stopping 32 of 36 shots faced. Finnie’s two goals led the way offensively for the Oil Kings, and the team will continue to look his way to produce scoring all season. Uchacz continues to be the dominant player at both ends of the ice that Rebels fans have come to expect, and he seems bound for another insane offensive season. Providing leadership offensively and in the clutch moments is exactly what they need him to continue doing if the Rebels want any chance of making another playoff run. 

Two-point games from Parker Alcos and Marc Lajoie, who were both rather quiet offensively in the first game, were a great thing to see. Both of them played extremely well at both ends of the ice and were rewarded for their gameplay. This was simply a very strong game for the Oil Kings. They are a much different team than we saw last season and are destined to prove it. The Oil Kings are back in action on Friday, Sept. 29 when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes at home.

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