EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oil Kings have taken a surprising 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarter Final playoff series against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
On Friday, Brett Pollock scored the winner just before the midway point of the third period as Edmonton edged the Wheat Kings 2-1 in game two of the series.
The Oil Kings won 4-2 in game one.
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Edmonton entered the playoffs as the eighth seed in the WHL’s Eastern Conference after winning a play-in game against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Brandon finished the regular season with the second best record in the league.
“We’re going to do our thing at practice and reset and go again tomorrow – being in the moment has kind of been our rallying point and we’re going to continue to roll with that,” Oil Kings head coach Steve Hamilton said Monday. “A year ago, we learned our lesson after being real pleased with the game one effort a year ago, we go into game two and we were nowhere near good enough or prepared enough.”
Hamilton also praised his goaltender, 19-year-old Payton Lee. After getting picked up in a trade with the Vancouver Giants earlier this season, Lee struggled at times but has taken over the starting job ever since Patrick Dea got injured earlier this month.
“He’s been in the league a long time and he’s not too rattled by the ups and downs of things and this is his opportunity,” Hamilton said. “I mean, we’ve had some weird things happen to our goaltenders this year, the responsibility’s fallen on his shoulders and he seems very poised and calm about it.”
Lee suggested that while it may have been a turbulent year for Oil Kings goaltenders, he’s maintained the same approach throughout the season.
“I just do what everyone tells me to do and just tried to work as hard as I could through the ups and downs and that’s kind of how it goes in this league,” he said. “The team’s obviously playing really great in front of me too so, the guys are boxing out (the other team’s players), letting me see pucks and blocking lots of shots so they’ve made it a lot easier on me.”
The Oil Kings will host games three and four on Wednesday and Thursday.