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Edmonton Oilers rookies jump into game action Saturday night

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It’ll be the young guns’ Battle of Alberta Saturday night at Rogers Place when the Edmonton Oilers rookies meet the Calgary Flames rookies.

“We want them to play towards their strengths. We’ve spent the last two days going over just minimal parts of structure to give them some sort of a structure,” said Jay Woodcroft, who will coach the Oilers’ rookies.

“We know there are going to be mistakes, and that’s OK. It’s about how we respond to mistakes, learn from mistakes.”

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The Oilers’ lineup will feature 2019 first round draft pick Philip Broberg. He spent last season with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League and was in Edmonton in December and January for the for World Juniors.

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“I had a knee injury and a shoulder injury during the time I was at World Juniors. Of course, it was difficult, but you’re always honoured to play for your country,” said Broberg.

“I had a good opportunity this summer to get strong and get faster and get ready for this season.”

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The Oilers’ top offensive line on Saturday is expected to include Xavier Bourgault (22nd overall, 2021) and Raphael Lavoie (38th overall, 2019).

“I think they’re both skilled players. Raff has the dimensional size for a forward. He has a great shot and a bit of professional experience under his belt,” said Woodcroft. “In the first two days on the ice, (Bourgault) has impressed me with his level of compete.

“He does a lot of little subtle things that may go unnoticed by the general public, but little things that coaches appreciate and certainly his teammates appreciate.”

The third member of that line will be Edmonton native James Hamblin, who played for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors last season.

Woodcroft didn’t indicate how he’ll deploy Ilya Konovalov, Olivier Rodrigue and Ethan Kruger, who are the three goalies in camp.

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Forward Jake Chiasson left Friday’s practice favouring his shoulder. Woodcroft didn’t have an update on Chiasson, who was drafted 116th overall out of Brandon earlier this year.

Saturday’s game starts at 5 p.m. at Rogers Place. Fans will be not permitted to attend. The two teams will also play Monday night in Calgary.

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