Oilers get greasy to snap out of funk
Hockey: Okotoks embraces blue collar mentality in beating Bobcats
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013 09:33 pm
If you can’t beat ‘em in the alley, you can’t beat ‘em on the ice.
The Okotoks Oilers got back to the basics of crashing the net with bad intentions in bullying their way to a vital 5-2 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats in a bounce back performance, Saturday night at Pason Centennial Arena.
“Our intensity of turning it into an in-your-face type of hockey game is the identity I think we need to play with the type of players we have,” said Oilers head coach James Poole. “Offensively we played a lot smarter in terms of how we were going to get goals and defensively we limited our mistakes.”
The Bobcats got on the board in an even opening frame through Eric Therrien before the Oilers poured it on the middle frame. On their 18th shot, the Oilers finally beat Bobcat netminder Devin Green when John Edwardh was Johnny on the Spot for a rebound marker.
“That was the turning point for us,” said Oilers captain Robbie Fisher. “Up until that point we were gripping our sticks a little tight and once that goal went in it was a sigh of relief.”
The teams exchanged goals from Okotoks’ Ty Clay and Lloydminster’s Austin McDonald leading to a 2-2 score with everything up for grabs in the final frame.
“The message was pretty simple, win a period and win a hockey game and get out of our slump,” Fisher said. “We came out really hungry and really wanted that win.”
The hard-nosed winger was at the head of the offensive onslaught in the third frame. Fisher drove to the net and poked in a rebound in heavy traffic to regain the lead for Okotoks and added an insurance goal when he put in his own rebound on a partial break. Connor Hartley put the finishing touches on the victory with a sublime between the legs deke for his fifth goal of the season.
The three-goal victory helped alleviate some of the ills befitting the Oilers team in a November to forget. All told, the Oilers are 3-5-1 in the month and are clinging to second in the South Division with a 14-9-5 record.
“There’s only a couple points separating us from fifth place and with Brooks starting to pick it up again we definitely needed that win,” Fisher said. “That was as close to a must-win as it gets right now.”
It was an unsuccessful homecoming for Poole’s opposite number on the Lloydminster bench. The 5-2 loss marked the return of longtime Oiler bench boss, and current Bobcats head coach, Garry VanHereweghe to Centennial Arena.
“It’s a great venue to return to play, Okotoks similar to Lloydminster is just a very good hockey town and both organizations are certainly fairly elite,” VanHereweghe said. “It was fun returning home and other than the results it was certainly a positive experience.”
The return to Okotoks went positively for another coach with deep ties to the Oilers the night prior. Former Oilers assistant coach Derek Stuart made a victorious return to the foothills when his Calgary Mustangs skated to a 4-1 victory on Friday night.
Calgary registered just 13 shots, but were opportunistic with a pair of goals from Jamie King and markers from Okotoks native Josh Betinol and former Oiler Connor Collett.
The Oilers threw 40 pucks on Calgary’s Ravi Dattani with only Tanner Ockey’s late second period tally to show for it in a frustrating contest for the hosts.
“Give them credit. They played a very patient style, waiting for our mistakes and defensively collapsed and kept us to the perimeter,” Poole said. “The effort level in terms of paying the price, being physical, getting to loose pucks was really poor.
“We have to realize that whether it’s the Mustangs, Lloydminster or Brooks or Fort McMurray, we have a certain style we have to play and if we’re not going to play that style we’re not going to be successful.”
Next up for the Oil is a date with the Canmore Eagles on Friday at 7 p.m. and a face-off with the Camrose Kodiaks on Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. Both games are at Pason Centennial Arena.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca