HAMDEN, CT -- “Getting back from the Christmas break, we thought we were going to get healed up and get over the injury bug, but it just continued,” said head coach Karl Lindén. “The guys hurt then are healthy now, and now it’s a different bunch of guys hurt.”
Most of the injuries have come at the forward ranks, so the team has at least had some stability on defense. The top six defensemen have played in no less than 28 games apiece.
Tyler Lapshanski (’97) is a third-year junior veteran who wears the captain’s “C” for the Oilers. He is the leader not only of the team, but more specifically, the defensive corps.
“He has worked really hard on our end of the ice, and he’s done really well for us in the games since we’ve come back from the break,” said Lindén. “Matt Stokes [’99] has also done well for us, so those two guys have definitely been doing their job. They’ve been rewarded for it – not only are they playing a lot of penalty kill time, but we’re also getting them on the power play.”
Ian Wallgren is the offensive leader of the D corps (25 points in 34 games), but Lapshanski has put up eight assists on the year.
Stokes has chipped in five, including two in the first five January games.
Up front is where that pesky injury bug has done most of its damage, forcing the Oilers to use 25 different forwards through its first 36 games. Only three – Peter Capone, Zach Withington and Alex Meisner – have played in all three of those games.
The revolving door has forced Lindén and the Oilers to make some midseason moves, which brought them former NAHL forward Tim Lopez.
The ’99 from Wellington, Colo., joined the team from the start of January and posted three points in the first five January games.
“He has helped our top six forwards and has joined our first power play unit,” added Lindén. “Bringing in Lopez in has given us more depth.”
Going into the EHL’s showcase in Philadelphia, the Oilers were hoping to break a tough streak going back into early December.
“In our games, we have been one goal up or tied going into the third period, but we haven’t really learned how to play with a lead or in close games,” said Lindén. “We are gripping our sticks a little too tightly right now.”