The Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames came into the Centrium in Red Deer for the second year in a row looking to get a solid look of their upcoming prospects.
The game, which featured some of the teams’ best young guys, is a rematch of last years prospects game which gives fans in Red Deer a first look at early National Hockey League (NHL) action.
The games also featured the return of central Alberta native and former Red Deer Chief Andrew Nielson, who suited up for the Flames after playing parts of last year with the Stockton Heat —their AHL affiliate. Neilson comes into this season after notching seven points between Stockton and the Toronto Marlies last season.
Neilson said he was a little nervous to play in front of a crowd that including 50 to 60 personal guests.
“It was fun. It was my first time putting on a Flames jersey, which was pretty cool for me. All in all I had a good experience and we got the win,” he said
Unfortunately for the central Albertans in attendance, action was not forthcoming in the first period — with neither squad finding a way to the back of the net. Both teams would trade chances — with the Oilers managing puck possession throughout the period — but the game would remain scoreless heading into the second period.
The second period would be more of the same for fans in Red Deer, with neither time managing to break through and capitalize — leading to a third period where the next goal would likely be the one that wins the day.
The third period would play out the same, with neither team being able to stump the goaltender — leading to five minutes of three-on-three overtime.
It wouldn’t take long before Flame Mathew Phillips finished off the game for Calgary — leading to a 1-0 win in the battle of Alberta.
Neilson said he didn’t want to speculate on whether her would make the team this year — but hopes to compete in a regular season battle of Alberta one day.
“I am going to come in and play my game, show why I deserve an opportunity. I am going to play both ends of the ice, defend well and contribute offensively,” Neilson said.
Former Red Deer Rebel Luke Philp also suited up for the Flames after playing three seasons for the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
“It was a good game. It was tough to get chances for both games and with the ice it was kind of hard to settle the puck down. I thought we did a better job throughout the game as a team sticking with it,” he said.
Philp credited the Golden Bears with growing his game, allowing him to get this opportunity with the Flames.
“I owe a lot to that program. It is an awesome program up there and we have a great teams every year with a great coaching staff,” he said. “I continued to improve as a player up there and we had six guys sign contracts from that team last year. I think that speaks for itself.”
The Flames and Oilers will now go on to continue their main camps.
The Red Deer Rebels play Friday at home in an exhibition tilt against the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Rebels will open their season on Sept. 21 on home ice.