Oilers finally solve Dragons' hex
Hockey: Okotoks picks up first win in six tries over Drumheller
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
Better late than never.
The Okotoks Oilers picked up their first win in their sixth and final crack at the Drumheller Dragons this season, dispatching their South Division foes 4-2 on Saturday night at Pason Centennial Arena.
“We made a little bit of an adjustment in our breakout. The biggest thing that has given us problems is their fore-check and just creating turnovers,” said Oilers head coach James Poole. “We definitely limited them and when there were some breakdowns (Jared) D’Amico was really solid in net.”
The Oilers boast a cushion of six points on the Dragons for third in the South Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), while also holding two games in hand on Drumheller. Okotoks trails the second-place Camrose Kodiaks by six points, but have played three fewer games than the central Alberta outfit.
The Dragons won the five previous meetings against Okotoks, including a 6-3 victory on Jan. 30.
Early on in Saturday’s tilt, the Dragons looked to be headed for a sweep of the season series. Drumheller registered nine of the first 10 shots on goal before Chris Collins scored his first of three goals in a four-on-four situation.
“We seem to capitalize pretty well on four-on-four,” Collins said. “I think that definitely gave the team a little bit of extra jump from having a lead on them for the first time since I can remember and we just built off that from there.”
The Calgary native then earned a favourable bounce when his attempted pass on a two-on-one deflected off the Dragon defenceman’s skate and into the yawning cage. Collins then completed the natural hat-trick on a four-on-two rush for the Oilers in the second period.
For Collins, a 20-year-old forward with four years of Western Hockey League experience as a Chilliwack Bruin and Saskatoon Blade, the third-goal marked the first natural hat-trick of his Junior career.
“I’ve had a lot of two goal games, but never finished it off,” Collins said.
Jordan Swenson, in his first game back for the Oilers since a foot laceration in November, assisted on all of Collins’ goals and completed the scoring for the green and gold by potting the fourth goal to cap off a terrific four-point game.
“They’re a rough, physical team so I was a little hesitant to come back for this game,” said Swenson, who saw two full practices before stepping back into the lineup. “The first few shifts there are a few jitters. You don’t want to make mistakes, don’t want to jump up and once you get that first bump out of the way you’re into the game and it feels like you never left again.”
The Dragons made it interesting in the third period and kept peppering D’Amico with shots. A power-play goal from Mitchell Gartner and an even-strength tally from Ryan Aasman cut the lead in half at 4-2 with more than 13 minutes still on the clock.
The Oilers held on for the comfortable two-goal victory, which should be a confidence boost should the teams see one another in the rapidly approaching AJHL post-season.
“It’s really important. Who knows how the playoff seeding is going to go and whether we will see Drumheller in the playoffs or not,” Poole said. “Having that little bit of confidence now if we do see them will go a long way. And in the standings it gives us a little more breathing room on Drumheller.”
“If we were only going to get one win on them this year this is the one we wanted, the last one,” Collins said. “We played our game and didn’t let them intimidate us. We came back and hit them more than they were hitting us and chances came from that.”
The Oilers hosted the Brooks Bandits, the number one Junior A team in the country, on Feb. 5, but results were too late for press time. The Calgary Canucks pay Okotoks a visit on Friday at 7 p.m. before the Oilers head into the Rockies to square off with the Eagles in Canmore on Saturday night.
For full results and schedules visit www.okotoksoilers.ca