Edmonton comes off of a easy two game opening set over the Lethbridge Hurricanes while the Medicine Hat Tigers also come off an undefeated weekend over the Red Deer Rebels. What’s a better test than two undefeated teams facing each other in the second weekend of new season? Following the traditional format for this season, they will be playing a home-and-home series with Edmonton hosting the Friday game, both teams bussing down to Medicine Hat for a tilt on Saturday.
Sebastian Cossa gets the start for the Friday tilt against the Tigers, Cossa likely will be seeing a lot of play this season as the schedule doesn’t start ramping up until the end of March when teams start playing 3 games in 3 nights. Cossa, who some have projected to be a first rounder in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft held the Oil Kings in against a much better Tigers team. Medicine Hat presented a much bigger challenge than the Hurricanes did for the Oil Kings. Both teams ended the game with 34 shots.
Liam Keeler opens the scoring for the Oil Kings on the Power Play in a game riddled with special teams doing all of the work. Dylan Guenther grabbed his 5th and 6th of the season and his linemates Neighbours and Oliver all extended their point streaks through 3 games. Edmonton controlled the first and third period while Medicine Hat dominated the second, likely the first period the Oil Kings have lost all season.
Eric Van Impe for Medicine Hat brought the game within two with 40 seconds left in the third period, but that is as far as Medicine Hat would get Friday as Sebastian Cossa and the Oil Kings would cruise to a 4-2 victory.
Sebastian Cossa and Garin Bjorklund run it back Saturday as both would tend the cage for the second half of the back-to-back, this time from Medicine Hat. Both goalies would face a combined 45 shots in this game, a lot less than the 68 they faced last night in Edmonton. Medicine Hat jumps out to the early lead in this one, 3:53 into the game Ryan Chyzowski gets his second of the season, despite out playing the Tigers, Edmonton would go into the intermission trailing for the first time this season.
Edmonton claws back in the second period with Jalen Luypen’s 3rd of the season, as the two teams would go into the third period tied at one, by far Edmonton’s closest game of the season as they look to remain undefeated.
The Oil Kings show why they should be the favorite to win the Central Division in the third period, in a close game they absolutely put Medicine Hat away. Outshooting the Tigers 9-2 in the final frame. Scott Atkinson breaks the deadlock 15:28 into the third period on the power play as once again the Oil Kings special teams comes up clutch when they need it. Neighbours would pot his second of the season in the empty net, icing the game and giving the Oil Kings a 3-1 win.
I stand by the fact that Edmonton is still going to be the best team in the WHL this season. They battled a bit of adversity in this series against Medicine Hat, who I believe will be their toughest competition in the Central Division. Edmonton looked in control for massive parts of both games, but unlike the series against Lethbridge, there were stretches where Medicine Hat was the best team on the ice. Cossa moves to a perfect 4-0 record as he attempts to cement his spots as one of the top goaltenders in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Edmonton will take the week off next weekend before going into a set of triple-headers in back-to-back weekends against both Red Deer and Calgary. Hopefully the WHL can continue their return to play under these conditions as they currently have no COVID tests, ramping up games from two games a weekend to three games a weekend will be the next big test for the WHL.