St. Croix reaches milestone in Oil Kings’ victory
Fourth-year centre passes 300-point mark
T.J. Foster, left, celebrates his Edmonton Oil Kings goal with teammate Michael St. Croix during Monday’s Western Hockey League game against the Prince George Cougars at Rexall Place.
Photograph by: Greg Southam, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oil Kings’ 300-point club has its founding member.
A night after recording his 30th goal of the Western Hockey League season in a 5-2 win over the Victoria Royals, Michael St. Croix etched his name deeper in the Oil Kings’ record book as a three-point outing Monday afternoon pushed him past the 300-point career mark in a 6-0 win over the Prince George Cougars at Rexall Place.
With the victory Edmonton ran its Eastern Conference-leading record to 43-12-2-3.
St. Croix, a 2011 fourth-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, wasted no time finding the scoresheet against the Cougars, becoming the first player in franchise history to reach the 300-point plateau when he assisted on Henrik Samuelsson’s power-play goal 3:13 into the first period.
“It’s a great milestone. If you look back at your junior career and you can say you had 300 points, it’s pretty special,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal, who scored 242 points in his WHL career.
“It shows that he’s got an offensive flare, and to score those goals you’ve got to go through a lot, you’ve got to battle a lot of adversity through slumps and, obviously, playing against other team’s top defence pairings.”
Fittingly, among the 8,081 in attendance Monday was St. Croix’s grandfather, Mike Chochla, who made the trek from Thunder Bay, Ont., to take in the Family Day affair and was rewarded with a memorable present on his 83rd birthday.
“I knew it was something coming into the season that I had a chance to do, but bottom line is we got the win tonight and I think that achievement is a team stat more than anything,” said St. Croix, who has 74 points on the season. “Obviously, a personal achievement, but you can’t do it without the help of your teammates.”
St. Croix’s historic assist wasn’t the only offence provided by the Winnipeg native.
After Curtis Lazar notched his 31st goal of the season in the first period, St. Croix did the same just after the midway point of the second period, putting home a Griffin Reinhart point shot that had careened off the end boards to make the score 3-0.
With a dozen games left in the regular season and the hopes of another deep playoff run, St. Croix still has plenty of work to do before he puts the finishing touches on his fourth WHL season, but that didn’t stop him from pausing to reflect on the accomplishment momentarily.
“I actually remember my agent (Don Meehan), after a game when I was 16 and I think at that point I started off as a young guy (with) maybe two points in my first 20 games, kind of wondering what was going on,” St. Croix said, “I remember him saying, ‘Don’t worry Michael, you’re going to score a lot of points in this league.’
“Obviously, being on a winning team here is the most important (thing) and it’s pretty awesome to win every night in Rexall, but obviously, it’s a cool achievement.”
Along with St. Croix’s historic afternoon, Edmonton goaltender Laurent Brossoit had a solid, albeit quiet outing, stopping 20 shots to earn his fifth shutout of the season and 10th of his career. He is one back of the club’s single-season record, set earlier this season by backup Tristan Jarry.
Third-period goals from Lazar and T.J. Foster — with St. Croix drawing an assist — capped off the rout as the Oil Kings wrapped up their season series with the Cougars with a perfect 4-0 record.
The win was a well-rounded performance against an underwhelming Prince George team that, despite coming into the afternoon with an 18-33-2-6 record, remains only three points back of the Everett Silvertips for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Edmonton concludes its three-game homestand 7 p.m. Wednesday against the Regina Pats. It will be the Oil Kings’ last home game until March 12.
NOTES: Edmonton set a single-season attendance record of 238,479 Monday, surpassing last year’s record of 231,160. The Oil Kings have three more home games to add to the total … Edmonton continues to be the WHL’s stingiest defensive club, having surrendered only 121 goals in 60 games … Lazar is Edmonton’s hottest goal scorer, with 24 goals in his last 33 games.
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