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There would be no perfect 10 for the Edmonton Oil Kings, as all good things must come to an end.
On Sunday, the Western Hockey League’s longest winning streak of the season, which had lasted all nine games going back to the beginning of the regular season, was halted with the Calgary Hitmen beating the Central Division leaders 2-1 at the Downtown Community Arena.
But never mind good things, the Hitmen were the best they’ve been all year in holding off the high-powered Oil Kings offence. Calgary improved to 5-5-1, led by their masked man, Brayden Peters, who came up with his share of quality saves to go along with the quantity of stopping 41 of 42 Edmonton shots.
The six-foot-two Taber product came up with his first win against Edmonton after coming into the game 0-5.
“We had a lot of shot volume, but some of the stuff he was able to see, we didn’t do a good enough job of getting at least one forward in his eyes consistently enough,” said Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer. “He’s a good goalie, he’s going to make those saves. He played well, we had a lot of opportunities to tie it up but it was just one of those games where it wasn’t meant to be.
“We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
At the other end, Edmonton went with their backup in rookie goalie Colby Knight, whose second WHL appearance saw 20 of 22 saves. And it would have been enough to continue Edmonton’s streak, had Edmonton had the offensive productivity.
But it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“For the most part, I thought we played pretty well. I thought we did a lot of good things. We had a couple breakdowns in the second period, which they were able to capitalize. For me, I think that was the difference in the game,” Lauer said. “Sometimes you go through those; sometimes you win games you shouldn’t lose, then sometimes you lose games you think you should win. It’s disappointing, but I think overall our guys worked hard.”
For the second time in as many nights, Calgary got a goal against Edmonton by Sean Tschigerl, who tooth-and-nailed his way to the crease Saturday as the Oil Kings cried foul when Sebastian Cossa was bumped back onto a loose puck behind him.
This time, Tschigerl left no doubt as he wired a one-timer over the shoulder of Knight on a cross-ice pass from Josh Prokop for Sunday’s first goal, which didn’t come until 14:18 of the second period.
After allowing Edmonton seven shots in the first five minutes of that middle frame, Calgary clamped down to win the shot battle 9-8 in the period. And that meant for the first time all season, the Oil Kings found themselves trailing on the scoreboard heading into the third period.
But the Hitmen didn’t let up, going ahead 2-0 compliments of Riley Stotts, who also came up with his second goal against Edmonton in as many nights, rocketing the puck over the blocker of Knight on a breakaway with 17:18 left to play.
While one streak fell, another continued as Calgary went 0-for-5 on the power play to extend their season-long drought to 0-for-41 on the season.
But on the penalty kill, Calgary managed to hold one of the top three power plays in the WHL to just three-for-14 over the three-game series and become the only team besides Edmonton to claim having beaten every opponent in the Central Division.
Edmonton went 1-for-5 with the man advantage Sunday, with Josh Williams scoring on a one-timer off a Carter Souch pass with 11:40 left to make it a one-goal game.
But it would be as close as they would get, settling on establishing a modern club record of nine straight wins to start a season.
IN AND OUT
Besides sitting league-leading goalie Cossa, Edmonton kept out veteran winger and St. Louis Blues draft pick Jake Neighbours on Sunday … Calgary was without the services of defenceman and Canadian Athletic Club product Luke Prokop, who left in the second period of Saturday’s game and is listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury … The Oil Kings were left with 10 forwards after captain Scott Atkinson dove for a loose puck and collided with Evan Toth. Atkinson threw off his glove and was favouring his right arm while being led to the bench by Oil Kings head athletic therapist Brian Cheeseman (who was celebrating a birthday Sunday).
Next up: The Oil Kings play a three-game series against the Red Deer Rebels next weekend ahead of another bye week, while the Hitmen have the same against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
E-mail: [email protected]
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
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