It was a fun night at Rexall for hockey fans. I took the family and we had a nice evening for a little over one hundred beans. The quality of hockey was impressive considering it is summertime and none of these kids is close to premium form.
The Oilers prospects gave a good account of themselves. Dillon Simpson made the simple play, didn’t seem to get caught out of position much and looked good passing the puck. He did take a big hit early on; I think he’s faster than we’ve been lead to believe but it’s one game.
Tyler Bunz had a solid 30 minutes, making some difficult stops and facing several flurries during his time in net. One of the goals slipped through him (I think he thought he had it) and the other was a no-chance opportunity from the goalmouth.
Nugent-Hopkins started slowly, with only a couple of notable items in the first period. He made a nice pass in the slot in the white end when chaos reigned, and looked impressive a couple of times on the forecheck.
The 2nd period was better, as he and Jaden Schwarz put on a penalty killing clinic and RNH’s line had a couple of nice chances. The third period gave us more evidence that Nugent-Hopkins does several impressive things (like puck pursuit, penalty kill and faceoffs); he also endured plenty of stick work in a game that was at times nasty–especially considering it was an exhibition game.
The two goals were pleasing. The first one came from the goalmouth and featured a blind shot that found the net despite good coverage by the goalie. Impressive and maybe a bit lucky. The winner was a much nicer hockey play, with RNH getting his own rebound and then ripping it short side (I think it went short side) at the end of period three.
Overall, a fine evening and a nice memory to stowaway with the others through the years. Nugent-Hopkins would appear to be a far more complete player than some of us have been giving him credit for so far. I have no idea if he’ll make the Oilers but am more convinced than ever that he was a fine choice. He certainly has an ability to pursue the puck and a soft touch and quick release around the net.
He’s already worth the price of admission.