Raphael Lavoie scored the lone goal for the Edmonton Oilers rookies, who were beaten 4-1 by the Calgary Flames rookies in an exhibition game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday (Sept. 20) night. Goaltender Ilya Konovalov made his debut for Edmonton, allowing just two goals before Calgary added a pair of late empty-netters. Edmonton closes its 2021 rookie camp with a 1-1 record.
The Oilers’ rookies rallied for a 4-3 victory over their Calgary counterparts at Rogers Place on Saturday (Sept. 18). Monday’s game was a reversal, with the Oilers unable to hang on for the win after scoring first. Not unlike during these team’s first meeting, the Flames rookies walked a fine line with their physical play. Edmonton had several power-play opportunities on Monday and scored with the man advantage for a second consecutive game.
After falling behind 2-0 early on Saturday, the Oilers got the jump on Calgary Monday with forward Lavoie scoring at 11:58 while Edmonton was in the waning seconds of a five-on-three advantage. Lavoie buried the puck in the net behind Flames goaltender Dustin Wolf, who was making his second straight start.
Winger Tyler Tullio got the play started down low by working the puck to Xavier Bourgault, Edmonton’s first-round pick in the 2021 Draft, who fired a beautiful cross-ice pass to a wide-open Lavoie at the right circle.
Calgary responded with a man-advantage tally of its own when Martin Pospisil scored from in front of the net at 15:41 to draw his team level. Konovalov had no chance at getting over to make the save following a series of quick passes between the Flames attackers.
Flames forward Ryan Francis scored for the second consecutive game, going top shelf on Konovalov at 2:40 to put Calgary in front 2-1. Edmonton killed off multiple power-plays to keep the deficit at one through 40 minutes.
Throughout the third period, Calgary’s physical play challenged the Oilers, who had their best chance to draw even when they went on the power-play with less than nine minutes to play.
With Konovalov on the bench for the extra attacker in the final two minutes, Pospisil and Jakob Pelletier scored ENGs 43 seconds apart to seal the deal for the Flames.
In his first outing since coming overseas from his native Russia, where he spent the last four seasons with Yaroslavl of the KHL, Konovalov was locked in from the opening face off. The 23-year-old was arguably better than Olivier Rodrigue, who gave up three goals to the Flames in the first period before settling in on Saturday. The Flames were full strength both times they beat Konovalov, who Edmonton drafted in the third round in 2019.
Lavoie, who will turn 21 next Saturday (Sept. 25), showed off the shot that made him a three-time 30-goal scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. After scoring 23 times in 51 games while on loan to Vasby IK (in Sweden’s second-tier) and potting five goals in 19 American Hockey League games with the Bakersfield Condors last season, the 2019 second-round pick is proving to be a finisher at the next level.
Tullio may have had the best two games of any player in Oilers rookie camp. The 2020 fifth-round selection impacted play by throwing the body, winning puck battles, getting shots on net, and setting up teammates. He has a toolkit that could make for an ideal third-liner.
Bourgault was the only Oiler to register a point in both games against Calgary. The No. 22 overall pick assisted on the game-winning goal Saturday, and on Monday, he showed tremendous vision setting up Lavoie.
The Oilers’ main training camp begins Wednesday (Sept. 22) at Rogers Place, and is expected to include several players from rookie camp. The Oilers’ first NHL preseason game comes Sunday (Sept. 26) in Calgary against the Flames.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.