Dylan Guenther’s shootout goal and Sebastian Cossa’s 21 saves were the difference as the Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Kelowna Rockets 1-0 on Tuesday night at Prospera Place.
It was a tense, defensive battle that featured some strong goaltending, but also plenty of missed opportunities.
The win gives Edmonton (15-5-6) its first win in three games and second in its past seven contests.
Heading into Tuesday night, Edmonton had just one shootout win in seven overtime games, last in the WHL.
Kelowna (13-8-3) has earned at least a point in five straight games, but also watched a four-game winning streak come to an end.
Roman Basran was the game’s second star only because he didn’t get the win. He kept his club close in making 27 saves.
For a team with the seventh-ranked power play, the Rockets were unable to score in four chances. The Oil Kings were 0 for 3 with a man advantage.
Cossa was good, but not overly busy. The Rockets appeared determined to find the absolute perfect scoring chance.
They’re still waiting, and so are the 4,627 fans.
The Oil Kings were more willing to fire away, but the Rockets’ blue-line was again outstanding in deflecting passes and shots.
They were also lucky in watching numerous pucks ricochet just wide.
Edmonton outshot Kelowna 12-8 in a scoreless first period. They weren’t just shots from the outside, either. Basran needed a quick glove and fast pads as the traffic crowded his crease.
Edmonton’s Jalen Luypen — playing in his hometown — sent a drive to the near post that nearly fooled Basran early in the first.
The goalie couldn’t control it, and the puck sat at the edge of the blue paint until Basran could find it behind him.
He later made a terrific pad save against David Kope, who one-timed a cross-ice pass.
Kelowna wasn’t without chances.
The Rockets were scoreless in two power plays, but had Edmonton’s defence wary.
Dillon Hamaliuk floated a thigh-high pass out front where Alex Swetlikoff nearly tipped it behind Cossa.
Later, Kelowna’s Michael Farren watched as the puck bounced away from him during a goalmouth scramble.
If there was one takeaway from the opening 20 minutes, it’s that neither team had any luck controlling the puck. Both teams appeared frustrated by bouncing pucks they over-skated or just couldn’t connect with.
A scoreless second period followed the same script as the first.
The shot clock said 6-6, but it felt like a lot more than that. Nolan Foote chipped the puck around a pair of defenders and managed a wrist shot Cossa could see and stop.
Kope had another one-timer from the faceoff circle that Basran saved only to have it squeeze behind him. The defence had to swoop in and sweep it away.
Farren later set up Mark Liwiski out front, only to have him fire it over the net.
The Oil Kings may have taken the biggest hit when their captain, Scott Atkinson, could barely skate to the bench after falling awkwardly under two players in the corner.
The Oil Kings appeared to slow down in the third, perhaps feeling the effects of their B.C. road trip that included games against Prince George, Vancouver and Kelowna.
Kelowna earned a gift-wrapped chance late in the third after Foote took a high-stick. But the power play just couldn’t manage much.
Each team took turns holding the puck for long stretches around the perimeter, not wanting to cough up a turnover.
There were some decent looks, but nothing you would consider threatening.
Mark Liwiski, Nolan Foote and Leif Mattson each missed for Kelowna in the shootout.
Guenther’s winner came on a snap shot from the slot that beat Basran’s glove.
The Rockets will now wait until Saturday to face the Prince George Cougars while the Oil Kings get no rest, and play the Kamloops Blazers tonight.
AFTERBURNERS — The 50-50 was $6,142.50. … The three stars were Cossa, Basran and Kaedan Korczak. ... Coach Adam Foote reunited some familiar lines, pairing Swetlikoff, Farren and Liwiski after breaking them up for a short period. ... Newcomer Jadon Joseph showed well. Kelowna acquired him on Sunday from the Moose Jaw Warriors as a right-shooting centre who can win faceoffs. He was 10 for 16 at the dot as Kelowna won 26 faceoffs to Edmonton’s 25. Going to Moose Jaw were for Kyle Crosbie, James Porter and Kobe Mohr, plus a third-round bantam draft pick in 2022.