The annual Oilers Rookies Vs. U of A Golden Bear’s game is always an interesting affair. The automatic assumption is that the more talented Oiler rookies will dominate a team that is used to playing with each other. However, many times that has not been the case and the Oiler Rookies have been given a sound humbling on more than one occasion.
But on this night talent one over familiarity and structure with room to spare as elite prospects Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined for 7 points leading the Edmonton Oilers rookies to 6 -3 victory in front of 14, 000 plus fans and move one game under .500 in their head to head match-ups with the Bears (12-13-0)
While the score ended up lopsided it started out fairly even. The Oilers rookies seemed to be carrying the play and getting the chances but it was the Bears who got on first when (ironically) Ethan Bear lost a puck battle in front and Rhett Rachinski snapped the loose puck home 5:04 of the first.
In spite of the deficit, Draisaitl and McDavid continued to press the Bear’s D and it wasn’t long before penalties became an issue. The Bear’s goal scorer Rachinski took a penalty at 9:17 of the first and they didn’t have long to wait for retribution when the Deutschland Dangler, Leon Draisaitl took a nifty feed from Braden Christoffer and buried it.
The Oilers rookies continued to play with power when Riley Kieser took a penalty at 10:30 and the Oilers quickly capitalized when the next one, Connor McDavid, made a reverse angle behind the net pass to Alexis Loiseau who finished the play with some nifty hands of his own.
In the second frame puck possession basically belonged to the Bears as they handily out shot the Oilers rookies by a wide margin but really didn’t benefit on the scoresheet as Eetu Laurikainen was very solid in net. Joey Laleggia showed nice offensive instincts when he took a Leon Draisaitl feed walking in to score early in the second period.
U of A veteran Jordan Hickmott answered shortly after but for all their territorial dominance the Golden Bears were still a goal behind. And that was unfortunate because the Oilers rookies blew the game wide open with 3 goals in the third, and they were all illustrated a style that is needed on the big club.
Josh Winquist showed some good hockey sense when he was in the right place to capitalize on a juicy rebound for the fourth goal. Connor Mcdavid and Cole Sanford executed an odd man rush to perfection for the fifth goal. Not to be outdone, Anton Shlepyshev was finally rewared for his numerous drives to the net with a bit of a moldy one he scored falling down, for his first of the night, and the sixth Oiler goal.
My Three Stars:
- Leon Draisaitl: A goal and thee assists for a dominant performance.
- Connor Mcdavid: Dazzling display of offensive skills including a super speed Forsberg move… and three assists.
- Eetu Laurikainen: Very steady in net, bailed out his youthful D.
Making a Case for Promotion
Leon Draisaitl was a dominant force throughout the game and while footspeed has been a gripe against him, he certainly kept pace with a speedy Bear squad. Finishing the night with a goal and 3 assists. Draisaitl could have had even more if his linemate Christoffer hadn’t bobbled the puck a couple times. As rookie camp has progressed, he’s only looked stronger, and I expect when main camp continues will make it very tough for the coaching staff to send him down.
Needing Some Seasoning
Darnell Nurse did not dominate last night as some might have expected and at times looked a little out of sorts, bobbling the puck somewhat and not looking confident. Too early to say but some time in the minors may not be the worst thing for this player.
Likes to Go to the Net
Future power forward Anton Shlepyshev was using his size and speed to bulldoze towards the net whenever the opportunity was there. On one occasion he drew a penalty, on another he was rewarded with one Smytty would’ve been proud of. This guy plays more of a North American than Euro game from what I can see and even reminds me of somewhat of Glenn Anderson with his style.
A Bit of a Project
Ethan Bear struggled a fair bit in this game, sending a pizza up the slot that led to a grade A scoring chance, but Laurikainen bailed him out. He was also at fault on the first Golden Bears goal when he lost his man in front. The scouts like his physicality but his hockey sense at this stage is lagging. Looks like he is a good 3 – 4 years away.