Penalties tarnish Ewanyk’s comeback

Title: Penalties tarnish Ewanyk’s comeback
Date: December 28, 2012
Original Source: The Edmonton Journal
Synopsis: I am doing a short internship over the holidays at The Edmonton Journal. My latest piece was a sidebar from the Edmonton Oil Kings game on Dec. 27. This article appeared in the Dec. 28 edition of the Edmonton Journal.

The return of Travis Ewanyk was supposed to mean a boost to a penalty-killing unit that hadn’t allowed a goal in six straight games.

But not even the best penalty killers can help a team from inside the penalty box.

Such was the case Thursday night in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 5-3 loss to the Red Deer Rebels, as Ewanyk rejoined the Western Hockey League team’s lineup after missing six weeks with a sprained knee. Ewanyk played well, but a pair of penalties that led to two Rebels goals spoiled his comeback.

Ewanyk first took a roughing penalty when the Oil Kings were down 2-0 less than five minutes into the game, with Mathew Dumba scoring a minute into the man advantage. Ewanyk was later whistled for a questionable slash, and Dumba scored just nine seconds into that power play in the third period.

“I thought Travis was good,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “I thought he took two bad penalties and it cost us on that last one, but he was back-checking hard. I thought it was a weak call.”

The second penalty actually put Ewanyk’s value on display as he was the first player back on a Rebels two-on-one, picking up an open trailer. The versatile two-way forward brings additional defensive presence to a team missing three of its top-four defenceman, and is also a key faceoff man for the Oil Kings, which should further bolster two impressive special-teams units.

Ewanyk also scored a goal, as he fought off a defender to tap home a pass from Henrik Samuelsson late in the first period. The goal showcased the kind of high-energy play Ewanyk brings to the team, crashing the net hard with a man hanging on to him.

It’s that energy and effort at both ends that makes the fourth-year centre such a key piece of the Oil Kings’ quest to repeat as WHL champions.

“He brings a lot of energy. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a great leader,” said defenceman Keegan Lowe. “A lot of guys are one of those things, but he’s all of them.”

Ewanyk’s return is timely, with the Oil Kings short-handed due to injuries and the world junior championship.

“It felt great,” he said. “It felt really good to get out there.”

 

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