Oil Kings put Ice on the brink of elimination

The Ice couldn't buy a goal on Wednesday night, and the Oil Kings likely weren't open to entertaining any offers.

The Ice couldn’t buy a goal on Wednesday night, and the Oil Kings likely weren’t open to entertaining any offers.

Despite making Edmonton netminder Laurent Brossoit earn his pay between the pipes, the Kootenay squad wasn’t able to light the goal lamp as the Oil Kings went on to a 4-0 win at Western Financial Place.

“I can’t really take all the credit,” said Brossoit, who stopped 20 shots. “My team kept them to the perimeter, I didn’t have too, too many difficult stops, but I was glad that I was seeing the puck when they did break our D and I made the stops I needed to.”

The Oil Kings have now outscored the Ice 21-3 over the last four games and lead the series 3-1.

While the Ice were able to generate more scoring chances this time around, the Oil Kings followed the script and used their experience to capitalize on Kootenay mistakes.

Mackenzie Skapski had a much better showing than the previous night, though the scoresheet might not indicate it. All three goals that got by the Ice netminder seemed to have an element of luck for the Oil Kings that Kootenay just couldn’t replicate.

Right off the opening face-off, Kootenay had better jump than the night before, but their discipline broke down a bit, as they gave up three powerplays within the first 10 minutes.

Despite that, Kootenay was able to kill off those penalties, however, Edmonton scored on even strength roughly seven minutes into the game, when a shot redirected a couple different times on the way to the back of the net, with Henrik Samuelsson having the last contact.

The Ice did their best to respond, with Jon Martin getting the door slammed on him by Brossoit on a breakaway, while Czech import Jakub Prochazka nailed the post, after getting sprung while leaving the penalty box.

“We need to bear down,” said Ice forward Brock Montgomery. “He’s a good goalie, but that’s not acceptable for us to not put a few past him. We had ample opportunities, and it’s not acceptable for myself, my linemates and my forward partners.”

The Ice continued to make Brossoit work for his shutout in the second period, as Luke Philp had a pair of glorious chances, but wasn’t able to finish on either.

While Kootenay poured on the pressure, they also got sent to the box twice, and the Oil Kings struck for a powerplay marker, when Curtis Lazar charged the net and redirected a centring pass from Keegan Lowe.

It’s Lazar’s second goal of the playoffs, after staying off the scoresheet in Edmonton’s first two home games. The young 18-year-old sniper had 38 goals and 23 assists in the regular season, and is expected to be a first-round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

“I was extremely nervous, coming into those first two games, but I’m back to myself, relaxed, I’m smiling and having fun,” said Lazar. “The puck’s going in for me and I’m looking to continue that.”

The Ice seemed destined to end the period with a two-goal deficit, however, some miscommunication between Skapski and his defence allowed the Edmonton forecheck to pounce on a puck deep inside the zone, and Edgars Kulda scored on a goal mouth scramble.

The Ice tried to keep their offence going in the final period, but the Oil Kings went on lockdown, as Brossoit and his defence kept Kootenay at bay.

With just over 2:30 remaining in the game, Kootenay pulled Skapski, and managed to have some pressure in Edmonton’s zone for a bit, but Griffin Reinhart scored into an empty net to seal the deal at 4-0.

Edmonton had one powerplay goal in seven chances, while holding off the Ice in five opportunities, and keeping their penalty killing at 100 per cent in the whole series.

Right after the game, the two teams got onto their respective busses to make the trip up to Edmonton for Game Five of the series on Friday night.

Hopefully that won’t include any more wildlife encounters, as the Oil Kings bus nailed an elk on the way down to Cranbrook.

“I think we’ll be going home a bit slower tonight and try to avoid that,” Lazar said.

WHL NOTES: Roadblock to the Memorial Cup—The Saskatoon Blades have been eliminated from the WHL playoffs by a four-game sweep at the hands of the Medicine Hat Tigers.  The Red Deer Rebels are also into the second round after taking a broom to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Kelowna Rockets staved off an upset elimination and beat the Seattle Thunderbirds. Seattle needs one more win to close out the series.

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