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Izzy Abougouche finishes WHL season with Oil Kings

Ismail "Izzy" Abougouche, who entered the DUB in 2022 when he signed with the Kelowna Rockets, was traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 10.

Lac La Biche’s Ismail “Izzy” Abougouche recently wrapped up the 2023-2024 season with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Edmonton Oil Kings.  

The 18-year-old Lac La Biche product joined the Oil Kings in January of this year on a mid-season trade after spending his rookie WHL season with the Kelowna Rockets.  

On March 24, the Oil Kings hosted the Red Deer Rebels at Edmonton’s Rogers Place for their final game of the regular season. Even though the Oil Kings beat Red Deer 6-3, capping off back–to-back wins against their southern rival, the OIl Kings missed out on playoffs, finishing the season in second-last place of the 11-team Eastern Conference. 

Abougouche, a six-foot-three-inch, 200-pound defenceman played in 20 games with the Oil Kings since the trade.  

This switch to playing closer to home he says, has enabled family and friends to come and watch him play more frequently. However, as he puts it, Kelowna was also a “pretty sweet place.”  

“Being in Kelowna, it’s a great city…and the weather there is obviously a little different than here,” he said.  

Warming up the Edmonton winter, he said, is helped when he sees familiar faces in the seats. it isn’t uncommon to see a few Lac La Biche Clippers jerseys in the stands while he’s playing on home ice. 

“Seeing the Clippers at some of my games and looking at the stands seeing the blue and red jerseys is always awesome to see,” he said. 


While becoming part of the Oil Kings roster was a bit of learning curve, Abougouche quickly caught on. Every team has their own playing style, he said, and coming to Edmonton meant learning new systems. 

For Abougouche, this was well worth it, as Roger’s Place is now his home arena, and he has access to an abundance of resources and training provided by the team.  

For his first game in an Oil Kings jersey, and just a week before he turned 18, Abougouche and his teammates travelled to Red Deer to take on the Rebels, one of the best games he says he has played during the shortened season with the team.  

“My family came down to watch,” he said. “I went out there and I showed what I can do and showed my role, and just made a good first impression on everyone.” 

 At the end of the season, the left-shooting defenceman who is known for his physical play, had recorded two assists, fired on net 39 times and racked-up 87 penalty minutes — 17 of them coming in the final game. His time in the box has him in the top 25 of the league’s penalty minute leaders.  

Looking ahead to next season, Abougouche says the team is in a rebuilding mode and will hopefully be able to make a run for the title in the near future.  

“We’re a very young team…we’re rebuilding right now, so our hopes are to make a push next year,” he told Lakeland This Week. 

Panthers player 

Prior to going to the WHL, Abougouche played AA and AAA in the Lakeland Region as well as in Fort Saskatchewan. He said playing peewee-level hockey for the Lakeland Panthers in Bonnyville was his first big step to climbing to the higher levels of the game. Following this, he played three years of AAA hockey with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.  

Abougouche credits his family and his coaches who worked with him as he advanced through the ranks-as well as teammates whom he shared the ice with-in helping him to get where he is now. 

“Learning how to really play the game is what got me where to I am today,” he said.  

Regarding where he sees himself within the next couple of years with his hockey career, Abougouche pointed out that 2024 is his first eligible year for the draft. His game plan is to continue to improve himself on the ice every season in the hopes that he can turn pro. 

Off the ice, Abougouche graduated high school last year. Next fall, he will be starting classes at MacEwan University in Edmonton. If turning pro doesn’t work out, he says, he will have career paths to choose, and while he plays, his schooling is paid for through the WHL. 

Chris McGarry

About the Author: Chris McGarry

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