Oilers down a pair of rivals
Hockey: Impressive home-opening weekend in Okotoks
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 06:00 am
It was only the third game of a long 60-game season, but the Okotoks Junior A Oilers’ win on Saturday night meant something.
The Oilers downed the defending RBC Cup champion Brooks Bandits 2-1 in front of 610 fans at Pason Centennial Arena Saturday in Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) action.
“For sure this matters because it helps set the tone for the rest of the year,” said the Oilers Spencer Kryczka who got the game
-winning goal in the third period. “Especially against Brooks. Everyone in the league will take note that the Okotoks Oilers beat Brooks, the number one team. It’s also a good confidence boost for the younger guys on our team.”
The third-year Oiler admitted his game-winner — his first goal of the season — isn’t about to knock Ovechkin off the highlight reels.
“It was just a scramble in front of the net and the puck was sneaking across the goal-line and I got lucky enough to bang it in,” Kryczka said. “It was a pretty greasy goal, but we needed it because it was a pretty greasy game.”
It was the Bandits’ first loss of the season — it came a whole lot quicker than 2012-13.
The Bandits won their first 20 games last season and they went on to win the national title — not before the Okotoks Oilers took them to seven games in the South Division final.
Oilers GM/head coach James Poole echoed Kryczka in saying the game between the two South juggernauts was far from pretty.
“It was definitely September hockey — a lot of mistakes on both sides,” Poole said. “We showed some character in having to come from behind against Brooks.”
The Bandits opened the scoring on a goal by Jake Larson 15 minutes into the opening period.
Okotoks wouldn’t get on the scoreboard until John Edwardh scored his second goal of the season on a powerplay, with Ty Clay and Tariq Hammond picking up assists, four minutes into the third period.
Edwardh would also assist on Kryczka’s game-winner six minutes later.
“John obviously came up very big for us, being involved in both goals,” Poole said. “In that third period we realized we had a good opportunity to win a big game for us and all of our veterans definitely showed up.”
Jared D’Amico had another solid night in net for the Oilers. He stopped more Bandits than Batman turning away 33 of 34 shots, including all 14 he faced in the third period.
The Oilers got the weekend going on a positive note with a 5-3 victory in their home-opener against the Olds Grizzlys Friday at the Pason. Olds is another heated rival of the Oilers taking Okotoks to five games in the best-of-five opening round of the playoffs last season.
On Friday Okotoks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Braeden Salverda and Ty Clay in the first and second period respectively.
The Griz would roar back with goals from Christopher Gerrie and Austin Kernahan to tie the score.
The Oilers took the lead for good when Salverda scored his second goal of the night to make it 3-2 midway through the second period.
“It was a good play by my linemate Taylor Allan — I just happened to be in the right place,” Salverda said.
He also happened to make the right shot, burying the puck from the slot.
Jordan Swenson put the Oilers up by a deuce with a powerplay goal before the end of the second period.
The Griz would get within one with a powerplay marker 4:30 into the third to make it 4-3. Okotoks captain Robbie Fisher put the game away with his first goal of the season at 18:33 to make the final 5-3.
The pair of victories gives the Oilers a 2-1 record — not bad for a team with a history of starting slow out of the blocks.
“It’s been an Okotoks Oilers’ tradition almost to start off below .500 in the first 15 games or so,” Kryczka said. “We are just trying to keep pace and try and secure a home spot for the playoffs earlier in the year rather than battling to the end.”
The Oilers will head off to Fort McMurray to take on the Oil Barons on Friday night. They play the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Saturday.
The Oilers aren’t back at home until Oct. 4 when they host the Calgary Canucks at 7 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena.
For more about the Oilers go to www.okotoksoilers.ca