The Edmonton Oil Kings gave it their best shot but still came up short in Monday’s playoff tussle with the Red Deer Rebels at Rexall Place.
“Coming in we knew this could be a pivotal game in the series, so intensity was definitely high,” said Travis Ewanyk, an Oil Kings’ assistant captain and St. Albert product, after the 3-1 loss.
The Oil Kings managed something they failed to do in the first two games of the first-round Western Hockey League series when former St. Albert Raiders’ forward T.J Foster opened the scoring early in the third period. However, the Rebels answered with three in a row. They tied up game three with 9:41 remaining on the power play, then salted it away with goals 20 seconds apart with less than two minutes remaining.
“When you’re in the game, it’s tough when that happens,” said Ewanyk.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Rebels’ star forward and potential first pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, assisted on the tying and winner markers. His playoff totals include three goals and four assists in three wins against the Oil Kings.
Ewanyk, an 18-year-old centre, was assigned to check Nugent-Hopkins in the playoffs.
“Travis did a great job on Hopkins and the whole line did too but at the end of the day he was the key guy on the winning goal,” said Derek Laxdal, head coach of the Oil Kings.
Last weekend in Red Deer, the Rebels defeated the Oil Kings 5-3 and 5-1. In the series opener, Ewanyk and Turner Elson, former Raiders’ teammates, dropped the gloves in the middle frame. Ewanyk believes it was all about intensity and not about personal grudges.
“What happens on the ice happens. Guys are battling hard,” said the second-year Oil King, who has a shot at getting drafted this year.
Game four goes Thursday at 7 p.m. at Rexall Place.
“It’s not over yet,” said Ewanyk, who is listed at minus-one with no points in the series. “We can play with these guys. They’re a good team but no one is unbeatable. You just need to keep that in mind.”
In his second WHL season, Ewanyk scored 16 goals and added 11 assists, while going minus-three with 126 penalty minutes in 72 games. His career totals include 17 goals, 15 assists and 171 PIM in 116 games.
As for the Rebels, Elson has two assists and is plus-two in the playoffs. St. Albert product Colten Mayor is pointless after three games against the Oil Kings.