There can’t be two kings. And this season it is from oil country that the WHL Kings hail, and tonight was another display of that supremacy. The Oil Kings added to their Eastern Conference lead with a 6-2 pounding of the Wheat Kings. The Brandon crew came out strong for the first half of the first period, but once Edmonton regained control they never let it go. Everything is going right for the Oil Kings lately, and the stats are showing it. The Oil Kings already set a new club record for wins this season, and continue to add to that total. Michael St. Croix broke the modern-day franchise record for points in a season with a goal and an assist tonight, bringing him up to 79 points on the season.
The best thing about watching the CHL is that we are seeing the future of the NHL. So whenever I cover WHL games I am more focused on individuals than when watching an NHL game. There were a few standouts in this game. First was Mark Stone of the Wheat Kings who was team Canada’s leading scorer in the World Juniors. Stone is a Ottawa Senators draft pick and with his size and ability will be playing in the NHL sooner rather than Later. Stone showed goo puck handling and patience the few times that Brandon was able to establish itself in the offensive zone, he is great on the cycle. But, tonight we was shutdown quite a bit and that leads to our next standout. Not only did Martin Gernat get two assists from the blue line for Edmonton, but he also helped handle the big Wheat Kings’ captain as you can see in the photo below.
Another player having a record-breaking season for Edmonton is T.J. Foster. T.J. Is in his fourth season with the Oil Kings and has passed his season points total from last year with a number of games still to go. This season Foster is averaging over a point a game and is really being trusted in all situations from special teams to late game situations. He is one of the calmest-under-fire players that I’ve noticed in a while at the junior level. He really has a nose for the puck and for where his teammates are as evidenced by his two assists against Brandon.
And of course we can’t talk standouts without mentioning Griffin Reinhart. There’s no way to forget the 6’3″, 200-pound Reinhart. The big defenseman played a really solid physical game as he always does. There is no mystery to Griffin and scouts and opponents all know what to expect, and to expect it every time out. It is this consistency along with his physical size and talent that have him projected to 6th overall in this year’s draft according to TSN’s latest listing.
Other notables were Henrik Samuelsson, who was the beneficiary of those two Foster assists, and goalie Laurent Brossoit who made 25 stops and looked great doing it. Overall it was another really solid performance by the Oil Kings in what is probably their best season to date. I will be covering next Friday’s game against the Red Deer Rebels and their young defenseman Matt Dumba who, some insiders are whispering, might end up being the top prize in the 2012 entry draft. Stay tuned for that.