Oilers climb into second
Hockey: Perfect week of results for Okotoks' Jr. A club
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 06:00 am
A perfect week has the Okotoks Junior A Oilers in the driver’s seat in the chase for the elusive second seed in the South Division.
The Okotoks Oilers left it late, but found ways to win back-to-back games over the Olds Grizzlys, 3-2 in a shootout Friday at home, and via a 4-0 shutout of the Calgary Canucks the following evening on the road.
“We had our moments where we weren’t at our best, but we pulled together and brought our best in the third period of both games,” said Oilers forward Tanner Olstad. “We came out with the W’s and we’re really happy to end this big stretch we’ve had.”
The 4-0 week vaulted the Oilers from third to second in the South Division as they jumped ahead of the Camrose Kodiaks by two points in the hunt for the number two seed. Okotoks also earned its first top 20 Canadian Junior Hockey League ranking of the year, receiving a rank of 18th on Feb. 25.
“What’s important is we got through the week 4-0,” said Oilers head coach James Poole. “It wasn’t perfect all week, but we got the wins which we needed to and we have our hands on second place.”
The victory over Calgary, ending a stretch of six games in eight days for the Oilers, in which Okotoks took 10 of a possible 12 points, was hardly a work of art. Poole labeled the scoreless opening frame versus the Canucks as one of his team’s worst in recent memory.
“We got a little bit better as the game went along,” Poole said. “We’ve had trouble in this rink finding our A-game be it the atmosphere or our team not quite giving the Canucks as much respect as they deserve and perhaps playing down to their level.”
Connor Hartley got the Oilers on the board in the middle frame after converting on a fortuitous bounce to the left of Canuck netminder Colin Cooper on the powerplay.
The Oilers’ puck-luck continued in the final frame when co-captain Robbie Fisher doubled the lead on the wackiest of deflections off a Chris Collins’ shot.
“It’s a typical goal that I score. Collins shot it and it went off the back of my shin and went up,” Fisher said. “Luckily it was a change-up and bounced the right way.
“I had a good laugh about it.”
Okotoks was off to the races against a last-place Calgary team for the remainder of the contest. Collins again was at the centre of the attack as he fed Greg Lamoureux on an odd-man rush to make it 3-0. Braeden Salverda put the finishing touches on the four-goal win with his fourth marker of the season.
At the other end of the ice, Keith Hamilton quietly stopped all 23 shots he faced and picked up his first shutout of the season.
“It was an ugly game. We didn’t play our best at all,” Fisher said. “In the third period we said we have to bear down, these our the points we need and we found a way to get them in the third.”
It was a similar script the night prior in Okotoks.
The Oilers escaped with two points after edging the Olds Grizzlys 3-2 in a shootout. After both teams were even at 2-for-4 after four rounds, Oilers rookie Mitch Amatto beat Olds’ Ethan Jemieff. Okotoks netminder Jared D’Amico then forced Grizzly BJ Duffin to shoot wide, clinching the victory for the green and black.
Fisher scored both of Okotoks’ goals while Taylor Bilyk and Matthew Marcinew answered for the Grizzlys.
Okotoks dominated play in regulation, outshooting Olds 42 to 21, but were lacking the offensive execution to put the game away.
Poole said the line of Fisher, Chris Collins and Greg Lamoureux was doing too much of the heavy lifting and secondary scoring was hard to find for the Oilers.
“Right now the Collins line is doing the majority of our offence and hopefully we can get some other lines going as we head into playoffs,” Poole said. “If you’re only scoring one or two goals a game you know you’re going to leave the other teams in the game and if you get into overtime it can go either way.”
The Oilers (36-18-4) close out the regular season with back-to-back games on home ice. The first-place Brooks Bandits are in town on Thursday and the Camrose Kodiaks pay the Foothills a visit on Friday evening. Both games are 7 p.m. starts at Pason Centennial Arena.
For more information visit okotoksoilers.ca.