Oilers win away from South final
Hockey: Okotoks up 3-0 over Camrose in south semifinal
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 01:33 pm
The exploits of a rookie sniper have the Okotoks Oilers in command of their South semifinal series with the rival Camrose Kodiaks.
Led by two goals from freshman John Edwardh, Okotoks picked up a 5-0 win Monday night in Camrose to take a stranglehold 3-0 lead on the Kodiaks in the best-of-seven Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) showdown.
“I always love playing in playoffs and just feel like I’ve been in the right place at the right time,” said Edwardh in a phone conversation from Camrose after Game 3. “And my linemates have been playing pretty well so it’s a combination of those things.”
Edwardh, third in playoff scoring with 11 points, opened the scoring Monday after burying a rebound off a Connor Hartley shot 4:12 in.
“It was a two-on-one and Hartley was coming down the left side and he didn’t really have a clear pass to me so he did a pad-pass,” Edwardh said. “It came right to me on my backhand and I just put it in the open net.”
Fellow rookie Colton Sheen doubled the advantage seven minutes later after crashing and banging the crease on a Mitch Collett shot.
Putting an early measure of doubt in the minds of the 1,047 fans in attendance at Camrose’s Edgeworth Centre was a boon to Okotoks.
“The crowds are often considered the sixth man so the quicker we can eliminate them the better,” Edwardh said. “Luckily we did that.”
Looking to wake-up the Kodiaks, head coach Boris Rybalka relieved netminder Devin McDonald and called on Matthew Gibney after 20 minutes.
The move failed to pay dividends.
Tanner Olstad sparked the faltering Oilers powerplay by converting on an odd-man rush to make it a 3-0 advantage 11 minutes into the middle frame.
The third period saw Edwardh add his second of the night and seventh of the postseason on a juicy rebound from a Spencer Kryczka shot. Towering defenceman Drew Weich then put the finishing touches on the victory with a slapshot from the point on the man advantage with just 33 seconds left.
Jared D’Amico was dynamic in between the pipes for Okotoks, stopping 33 shots in a shutout performance.
“Even though we were up 2-0 in the series we felt like we hadn’t played our best game yet,” Edwardh said. “We were pretty determined to show them that at their home rink.”
It was more defensive hockey in the opening two games of the series where the Oilers took advantage of home ice. In Saturday’s Game 2 the Oilers were able to hold on for a 2-1 victory despite a strong pushback from the Kodiaks in the second half of the game.
“We actually started strong, but weren’t capitalizing on our scoring opportunities,” Oilers coach James Poole said. “We kind of kept them in the game and whether it was fatigue, especially in the second period, we made a lot of mental mistakes. But give our kids credit, since the New Year they’ve won some games ugly and figured out how to do it.”
Jordan Swenson got Okotoks on the front foot with a wrist-shot goal from the point seven minutes into Game 2. Following a dominant first period for the hosts, Camrose tilted the ice firmly in its favour after Kirsten Odendaal beat D’Amico on a scrambled play in the middle frame.
Against the run of play, Edwardh registered the game-winning goal from the side of the net with just 34 seconds remaining in the second period.
In the series opener on Friday, Okotoks fought off a nervy first 20 minutes to skate to a comfortable 3-1 victory. Kodiak Luc Vandale put Camrose in front in the late stages of the first period.
Okotoks shook out the cobwebs and came out a different bunch after the first intermission, notably on special teams.
Swenson’s powerplay marker and a shorthanded breakaway beauty from Chris Collins gave Okotoks a 2-1 lead in the second stanza. Just 64 seconds into the final frame Edwardh doubled the lead on a deft deflection of a Stefan Danielson point shot.
“We knew it was going to be a low-scoring, tight checking series,” Poole said. “In Game 1, we started out pretty slow and then found our game.”
Game 4 of the series is March 19, after the Western Wheel’s press time. Check www.westernwheel.com on Wednesday for an update on the series. If necessary, Game 5 would be March 21 at the Pason Centennial in Okotoks.