Oilers moving on after slaying Grizzlys
Hockey: Okotoks wins 5-1 in winner-take-all Game 5
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Oilers have finally slain their playoff dragon.
Okotoks dominated the Olds Grizzlys 5-1 in the elimination Game 5, on Tuesday night on home ice, to win the best-of-five Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) series 3-2 and move on to a second round showdown with the Camrose Kodiaks.
“Our guys definitely played our best game of the series,” said Oilers head coach James Poole. “Getting over that hump of Olds and that style of play that’s kind of been our downfall in the playoffs is big for our kids.”
The win marked the first time in franchise history that Okotoks has defeated Olds in a playoff series, and more importantly, atoned for last year’s playoff upset at the hands of Olds and a disappointing 4-2 loss in the Grizzlys’ den in Game 4 on Sunday.
“We came out hungry,” said Oilers co-captain Robbie Fisher. “We knew we had a missed opportunity in Olds and no one is going to ask about two losses now, just that we won the series.”
The co-captain set the tone for the energized home team. Fisher opened the scoring 7:42 into Game 5 by sliding the puck passed an outstretched Ethan Jemieff in goal.
“I just went to my office there around the net and I was falling down and luckily I got a stick on the puck and saw it go in over the line,” Fisher said. “We knew we needed that first goal and once got it we said we need the second goal.”
Olds nearly got on the board on its first shot of the game when sniper Brandon Clowes was sprung on a shorthanded breakaway, but he was stymied by Oilers netminder Jared D’Amico. Okotoks then established its possession game for much of the opening frame and out-shot Olds 11-4 through twenty minutes.
The crucial second goal came through Oiler John Edwardh who went in all-alone and used a double backhand deke to beat Jemieff low and double the lead at 2-0. Hard-hitting Colton Sheen made it 3-0 when he buried a loose puck from the left faceoff dot into the back of the net 14 minutes into the middle frame. The offensive onslaught in the second period continued when Tanner Olstad had time and space on the powerplay to snipe the Oilers’ fourth goal into the yawning cage.
Okotoks didn’t let its foot off the gas in the third period.
Tanner Ockey scored his fourth-goal of the series on a sublime passing play with linemates Edwardh and Spencer Kryczka four minutes into the frame to put the contest further out of reach.
The Grizzlys then earned a measure of consolation when Olds captain Bart Moran broke D’Amico’s shutout bid with 14 minutes remaining after converting on a mad scramble in front of the Oiler goalie.
But it was too little, too late for the visitors.
The Oilers spread out their offensive riches in Game 5 with all four lines registering at least one goal and three rookie forwards – Edwardh, Sheen and Ockey – bulging the twine.
“Getting all four lines to contribute was critical,” Poole said. “We thought the 20-year-olds would have to carry the load, but to be able to get our younger players stepping up that’s going to make us a tough team to beat.”
Blocking shots and clogging shooting lanes didn’t hurt the effort either as Olds was held to just 17 shots on D’Amico.
Moreover, the dominant first period for the home club, in front of a season-high 1,423 fans in a packed Pason Centennial Arena, took the wind out of the sails of a Grizzlys team entering the game with momentum on their side after winning Game 4.
“They outworked us in the first big time. The high that we were on from the game before quickly turn into a lull and we had a tough time regrouping after that,” said Grizzlys head coach Brett Hopfe. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole and couldn’t battle out of it.”
“I’m extremely proud of our guys for not quitting and for working hard in the third in trying to overcome a deficit that was pretty large and we battled right to the end.”
After dispatching the Grizzlys, the Oilers will look to extend bear hunting season into a second-round series with the Kodiaks.
Camrose and Okotoks last met in the postseason during the 2011 semifinals in which the Kodiaks won the series in seven games.
“It’s going to be a tight series as usual and the team that wants it more is going to win,” Fisher said. “I don’t think it gets any bigger than Okotoks and Camrose.”
Okotoks hosts Games 1 and 2 of the South semifinals on Friday and Saturday. The puck drops for both contests at 7 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena.
For full schedule information go to www.okotoksoilers.com.