Saturday night’s Team Red vs Team White game at Rexall Place in Edmonton gave fans their money’s worth from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer. Plenty of emotion, hits, speed, and a dramatic finish.
While every player gave it all they had to impress the six thousand or so that attended, some made more of the opportunity than the others. Jamie Oleksiak was certainly in that group.
He opened the scoring at 18:31 of the first period on a power play point shot that he cradled while backing up to gain himself space to shoot. He let it go quickly and got it through traffic all the way to Team White goalie Tyler Bunz. Bunz couldn’t handle the shot that hit him up high and it found it’s way to the back of the net.
Thirty seconds later though, Oleksiak was on the ice to give up the tying goal. Though not his man as there was a mad scramble in front of goalie Mark Visentin, he had an opportunity as he circled the pile to lift the stick of Team White’s Christian Thomas but as Thomas was falling to the ice, he was able to elude any and all distractions and fire the puck behind a sprawling Visentin
Oleksiak didn’t give anybody much all game though, consistently forcing players to either take the outside lane or fire the puck in from a distance. His size, reach, and positioning were obvious strengths all night. The only time you really saw a forward attempt to slip by him was when speedy Jaden Schwartz made a quick move on him in the second, but he was quickly attained by Oleksiak and stripped of the puck behind the net.
By no means soft at all, I found myself wanting Oleksiak to be a little more punishing in his own end given his 6″7, 244 LB frame, but his ability to keep players to the outside is what makes Oleksiak a dominating presence on the ice. After all, you don’t have to put someone through the glass or lay a big open ice hit to stop them, just stop them. Making a forward do what they don’t want to do is a big time skill. Just ask every forward who’s ever played a game against Nicklas Lidstrom.
Though he scored the opening goal in the first period, it wasn’t until the second period that you really started to see him jump up into the play. There was no hesitation on his end and he even came oh so close to scoring his second of the game on a two man rush as the puck went back and forth a couple times. He was fed a hard pass right in front as he streaked to the net and had the puck go off his skate as he took a swing at it, but goalie Tyler Bunz did the splits and got a pad on it.
He assisted on Team Red’s fourth goal of the game as he started the play up the ice to forward Ryan Johansen who fed it to Mark Stone to finish. That made it 4-1 Team Red at 5:01 of the 3rd. With the score 4-2, Oleksiak took his second penalty of the game on an interference call and Team White was able to make it a one goal game. In the dying minutes, Team White would tie it and eventually get the winner in the dying seconds to cap off a big comeback. Oleksiak was on the ice for the winner as well but he had his man at the net covered, it was just a seeing eye shot from the circle that snuck through the legs of goalie Louis Domingue.
Oleksiak finished the night even with a goal, an assist, and two minor penalties. He also finished the night garnering a lot of attention from fans and more importantly, likely Team Canada brass.
No doubt a lot of pride was on the line but as far as Oleksiak, he should have been able to skate off the ice with his head held high. Higher than usual anyways.
About the Author
Written by Travis Currie
Im your typical sports fan. Just a little more crazy about it. I live and die for my teams and I drive my girlfriend nuts. I consider myself the world's biggest Stars fan. Ive been a fan since I was a young kid going back to the mid 80's. Favourite Stars player of all-time is of course Mike Modano. Favourite non-Stars player of all-time is Peter Stastny. I love talking sports so please leave a reply to anything you agree or disagree with. If youd like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org