Submitted by Brent Forster – Big Valley Oil Kings
In front of almost 300 fans, the Big Valley Oil Kings started their Battle River Hockey League season strongly Saturday night with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Irma Aces.
The Oil Kings opened the scoring at 11:12 of the first period as newcomer Denver Wik cashed in on a feed from captain Brett Muhlbach and ex- Three Hills Thrasher Matt Wildeman.
The Aces’ Jesse Gulbraa tied the score four minutes later. Irma took the lead with 58 seconds remaining in the first period, as Chase Tomlinson scored.
Matt Schmermund, who played in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, scored for Big Valley with the Aces’ Morgan MacKay serving a hooking penalty in the second period.
The Oil Kings went up 3-2 with a pretty shorthanded goal by Connor Ablett. The Three Hills native deked around an Irma defender and buried the puck high on the glove side of netminder Nolan Goodwin. Ablett’s goal turned out to be the game winner.
Assistant captain Justin Tremmel added some insurance for Big Valley when he scored at 14:43 of the third period on a Dave Sissons setup.
Irma tried to close the gap by pulling its goalie, but the Oil Kings took advantage of the empty net with 54 seconds remaining to close the scoring.
Many staff and students from Big Valley School were in attendance to support the Oil Kings on what was dubbed Big Valley School Night.
The three stars were first-star Ablett of the Oil Kings, No. 2 choice Jess Valleau of the Aces, and third-star Chance Clark, the Big Valley goaltender.
Less than 24 hours later, the Oil Kings hit the road to face off against the Satellites in Tofield. Big Valley outshot the Satellites 30-24, but just fell short in a 3-2 loss.
One of the differences in the game was the special teams. The Oil Kings had 10 power-play opportunities, but could not cash in. Tofield was one-for-seven on its power play and popped a short-handed goal. The Satellites went up 2-0 in the first period.
The Oil Kings’ Wik closed the gap with 5:25 remaining in the first.
Tofield’s Brett Holmberg scored the game-winning goal short-handed at 12:58 of the second.
Big Valley’s Schmermund closed the gap with 51 seconds remaining in the period. There was no scoring in the third period.
This Friday, the Oil Kings welcome the Sedgewick Sabres to Big Valley. Game time is 8:30 at the Agriplex.