Oilers send message in season finale
Hockey: Okotoks dispatches Brooks and Camrose to secure second seed
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 11:38 pm
The Okotoks Oilers turned what was expected to be a thrilling battle for second place into a laugher.
Needing one point to secure second in the South Division, the Oilers blitzed the Camrose Kodiaks 5-1 in their regular season swan song on March 1 in front of a season high crowd of 1,249 at Pason Centennial Arena.
“I think it came down to who wanted it more and we showed that we clearly waned it more,” said rookie winger John Edwardh. “We pretty much dominated them from puck-drop.”
Rookie Colton Sheen opened the scoring for Okotoks with just over three minutes left in the opening frame and the lead would soon be doubled. Chris Collins was awarded a penalty shot after Kodiak Matt Waseylenko hooked him down on a breakaway. The Alberta Junior hockey League (AJHL) player-of-the-month for February made the most of the opportunity, snapping a wrist shot high past Camrose netminder Matthew Gibney.
Camrose got right back in the contest midway through the middle frame when Josh Smith beat Oiler goalie Jared D’Amico on the powerplay with a shot from the point.
The Oilers’ top line restored the two-goal advantage when Greg Lamoureux won a battle behind the net and fed linemate Robbie Fisher for a tap-in.
John Edwardh put the game out of reach with his 18th marker of the season, giving Okotoks a comfortable 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Collins would add his second of the game, 32nd of the season, after showing great patience to wait out Gibney and slide in the final goal of the game.
The four-goal win ensured Okotoks (38-18-4) the second spot in the South behind the dominant Brooks Bandits (53-4-3). Not only did the win secure second in the South, but also second overall in the AJHL, which could mean home-ice advantage in the final should Okotoks advance that far.
“We came in knowing if we got the win we would have second overall in the league and that gives us home-ice advantage,” said Oiler blueliner Tariq Hammond. “We just kept that in the back of our minds and that just drove us through the game.”
The Oilers have to be confident after consecutive wins over the Bandits including a 4-3 win on Feb. 28 in Okotoks.
Edwardh scored twice in the win Feb. 28 along with tallies from fellow-rookie Mitch Collett and Collins.
“I always pride myself on trying to be the best player on the ice in the biggest games of the year,” said Edwardh, who scored three goals in the final two-game set. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time with a couple lucky bounces.”
Keith Hamilton backstopped the Oilers to the victory stopping 30 of 33 shots for his second win of the campaign over Brooks.
“We have to have everyone going in those types of games. (Brooks) doesn’t have one guy or one line, they have a whole team that can produce offence,” Hammond said. “We wanted to show everyone (beating them before) wasn’t a fluke. We wanted to back it up and being the only team to beat them twice in regulation is a big accomplishment for us.”
Starting every series at home could pay dividends for an Oilers squad who has enjoyed the friendly confines of Pason Centennial Arena as of late. The Oilers have won 11 of their past 12 games at home and own the best penalty kill in the league on home ice.
“If we’re fortunate to get through the first round and whether it’s a Camrose, a Drumheller or whomever it may be in the second round to have that home-ice is definitely an advantage,” said Oilers head coach James Poole.
Winners of six in a row, and owners of the best mark in the Alberta Junior Hockey League since Jan. 1 with an impressive mark of 18-2-3, the Oilers are the hottest team in Alberta.
“It’s safe to say we’re playing our best hockey of the season,” Poole said. “I still think Brooks is the team to beat, for sure. But hopefully we’ve sent a message to them and the rest of the league that it’s definitely not going to be cakewalk for Brooks.”
The Oilers open their playoffs tonight (March 6) with Game 1 of the best-of-five opening round series with the Olds Grizzlys. Game 2 is March 7 in Okotoks. Both contests are 7 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena.