This is a night where the main objective is to catch up with another lifetime member of the Everett Silvertips alumni corps, now in NHL quarters. But with the Silvertips around for one more night in Edmonton, Alberta the preparations for Red Deer on Tuesday’s matchup with the Rebels means one more taste of the NHL environment.
It also means one special night at the sparking new Rogers Place in downtown, the 18,000+ seat marvel that is the centerpiece of a downtown revitalization. The Oilers main attraction is Connor McDavid – we know the robust resume he’s already building in his third year in “The Show” – but the lineup is littered with WHL alumni, a league featuring nearly 150 league graduates on opening night rosters for NHL teams.
One of them, still with current WHL ties, is forward Kailer Yamamoto, eligble to return in his draft plus-one year with the Spokane Chiefs. But he was so good in training camp, the Oilers penciled him into the starting lineup on opening night.
Here they are, categorized by tonight’s rosters:
Edmonton: Laurent Brossoit
Edmonton: Kris Russell
Winnipeg: Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey, Tyler Myers
Edmonton: Jujhar Khaira, Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Winnipeg: Adam Lowry, Nic Petan, Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey
IN-GAME: The Oilers outshot the Jets, 21-11 in the first period fell behind 2-0 … the WHL alumni corps took care of the deficit … Leon Draisaitl (Prince Alberta, Kelowna) finished a Connor McDavid feed between the circles, then 40 seconds later Red Deer Rebels alumnus Ryan Nugent-Hopkins raced behind the defense for a breakaway goal for a 2-2 tie in the second period … Winnipeg scores the last three (natural hat trick, Nikolaj Ehlers), wins 5-2 … Yamamoto’s second game in an Oilers sweater ended with the search continuing for his first career point, in spite of four shots and a pair of hits in a little less than 12 minutes of ice (his two penalty minutes came at a critical moment: with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, leading to Ehlers’ hat trick goal on the power play).
Note: Khaira, moved up to second line duty in the Oilers 3-0 win over Calgary last Friday in the 2017-18 opener, was scratched from the lineup for the first time this season. But our plan is to catch up with him before the end of the night and get the scoop on the transition of his game into the next level of his career. He’s one of 15 Tips alumni with NHL experience.
More on journey into the NHL, on video.