In a battle of two most recent Western Hockey League expansion teams, the Edmonton Oil Kings downed the Chilliwack Bruins 4-3 Tuesday night. Ex-Vancouver Giant Mike Piluso scored the winner 1:36 into overtime as the Oil Kings won for the first time ever at Prospera Centre, handing the Bruins their third straight loss in the process.
T.C. Cratsenberg opened the scoring in this one, scoring his second goal in as many games. Mitch Topping started the play with a pass to Steven Hodges in the neutral zone. Hodges smartly tipped the puck through to Cratsenberg, who had a clear path to the Edmonton net. The ex-Spokane Chief went five-hole, squeaking the puck through Oil Kings stopper Jon Groenheyde at 6:31.
Edmonton came right back, taking 90 seconds to tie the game on a tally by Michael St. Croix. Defenceman Ryan Dech earned the assist with a point shot that took a lively bounce off the end boards, right to St. Croix’s stick.
With Chilliwack tender Lucas Gore caught well out of position, St. Croix roofed the puck for his team-leading 10th of the season.
Edmonton surged ahead on a power play goal at 12:50. With Tim Traber serving two minutes for hooking, Griffin Reinhart took a shot from the right point that trickled through Gore. Crashing the crease, Josh Lazowski scooped the puck in on the backhand for his sixth of the year.
Late in the period, Traber redeemed himself, going toe-to-toe with Cameron Abney in a spirited scrap at center ice.
Shots on goal in period one favoured Edmonton 11-8.
The teams traded goals in a second period that was just as scrambly as the first. Roman Horak tied the score at 2-2 just 13 seconds in. The Oil Kings won a faceoff in their own end, but Czech defenceman Marek Hrbas bobbled the puck in front of his own net. Horak swooped in for the steal, and swept the puck past Groenheyde for his 11th of the season, extending his current points streak to nine games.
But the rest of the period looked like an extended power play for the visitors, who spent most of their time buzzing around the Bruins net. Gore made what may be the save of the year midway through the period, robbing Travis Ewanyk of a sure goal.
Ewanyk chipped the rebound from a Mark Pysyk point shot up and over Gore, only to see the netminder flop backwards and swat the puck out of midair with his paddle. Gore also came up with a spectacular sprawling glove save on a Reinhart point shot, flashing the leather to take away a puck that was labelled for the bottom corner.
The one puck to elude Gore in period two came off the stick of Dech, who collected a Kristian Pelss pass in the slot and beat the keeper through a maze of Bruin defenders.
Shots on goal in period two favoured Edmonton 11-6.
Chilliwack came out flying in the final frame, and drew even just 69 seconds in on a goal by Hodges. Kevin Sundher spotted the rookie flying down the left wing, feeding him a saucer pass in stride. Hodges finished with a low snap shot past Groenheyde for his third of the season, knotting the score at 3-3.
An unlikely player contributed the hit of the night midway through period three. Ryan Howse stepped into Klarc Wilson in the neutral zone, leaving the Oil King flattened at center ice. Wilson was eventually helped off the ice, leaving a trail of blood in his wobbly wake.
That was the last highlight of regulation time. The teams skated into overtime where Piluso produced the game winner. Slipping past a Jesse Pauls hip-check along the right wing boards, Piluso snapped a sharp angle shot through Gore.
The three stars were Hodges (first star), St. Croix (second) and Reinhart (third).
Chilliwack is back in action Tuesday afternoon (2 p.m.), hosting the Vancouver Giants at Prospera Centre.
– Eighteen-year-old T.C. Cratsenberg took 73 games to score his first Western Hockey League goal. But after scoring Saturday against Kelowna and tonight against Edmonton, he now has goals in two straight games.