Overtime heroics foil Mustangs
Hockey: Oilers take four of six points from weekend
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Junior A Oilers are back in the saddle thanks to some overtime magic.
Connor Hartley tallied the game-winning goal 3:41 into overtime to give the Oilers a crucial 4-3 victory over the Calgary Mustangs and send the largest crowd of the season (1,004) at Pason Centennial Arena off with a collective smile on Family Day.
“It was a face-off in their zone and it went back to (Jordan) Swenson and I drove to the middle, he passed it back and I just tried to get a shot away on net,” Hartley said of the game winner. “It’s something that feels nice, especially at this time of year when points are more important in that race for second.”
In a battle of potential first-round playoff opponents, an inauspicious opening period put the Oilers on their heels after Tanner Labelle staked the Mustangs to an early advantage. Todd Sykes doubled the visitors’ lead in the opening stages of the middle frame when a dump-and-chase play took an unfortunate bounce and beat Oiler netminder Jared D’Amico.
Okotoks finally beat Mustang tender Ravi Dattani on a Robbie Fisher shot deflecting off Chris Collins, a goal which extended the Calgarian’s point streak to 10 games.
The third period saw the Oilers pepper Dattani with shot after shot but with diminishing returns.
The persistence finally paid off when Collins potted his second of the game on a great feed from Greg Lamoureux.
Hartley then gave the hosts their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining on a wicked deflection of a Tariq Hammond point shot.
Just 71 seconds later the dogged Mustangs tied the game at 3-3.
Oilers head coach James Poole said his club improved as the contest progressed, but the host’s play without the puck left a lot to be desired.
“Defensively we were really poor in our own zone,” Poole said. “There wasn’t much communication going on and that’s why you would see guys standing still and not sure who’s going for the puck, who’s in support.”
Mustangs bench boss Mario Amantea liked the work ethic of his undermanned team.
The Calgary defence corps’ frequent trips to the infirmary didn’t help matters as Stefan Virtanen was forced to leave in the first period with a popped shoulder and was soon joined by fellow blueliner Jayden Piatelli on the sidelines.
“We were definitely short staffed as the game went on, but you know what our
compete level was there tonight, we had good goaltending,” Amantea said. “One point, certainly we’re not happy with it because we feel we match-up well against (Okotoks) and felt we deserved a better fate.”
The overtime victory ensured the Oilers picked up four from a possible six points on the weekend. Okotoks edged the visiting Old Grizzlys 3-2 in overtime with Swenson notching the game-winner on Friday. A trip to Canmore on Saturday saw the Oilers drop a 3-2 result to the Eagles, despite throwing 55 shots on Canmore’s Cam Barnes.
The three matchups this week also gave the Oilers a preview for what they will see in the first-round of the post-season where Okotoks is guaranteed to face one of the trio.
“It would be nice to send a message, but I don’t think we’re sending the right message right now,” Poole said.
“The Olds game I thought we could have won more convincingly. In Canmore it was one of those games where around the net we just didn’t have the scoring touch.”
The Oilers (33-18-4) trail the Camrose Kodiaks by three points and hold two games in hand. With five games left this season, Poole said the focus remains ironing the kinks in team performance.
“No matter who we’re playing in the playoffs if we want to go anywhere we have to a better a hockey club,” Poole said. “This year in the South there is no freebie in terms of a matchup to get through.”
The Oilers are in Calgary tonight, Feb. 20, for another meeting with the Mustangs and host the Grizzlys on Friday at 7 p.m. For full schedule information go to www.okotoksoilers.ca.