Oilers sweep aside national champs
Hockey: Okotoks earns back-to-back wins over Brooks Bandits
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Monday, Dec 09, 2013 06:00 am
If you’re not bending the rules, you’re not trying.
The Okotoks Junior A Oilers picked up their second win in as many nights over the Brooks Bandits when sniper John Edwardh used some subtle interference to jam the puck and goalie Michael Fredrick into the net for the game-winning 2-1 tally Saturday at Pason Centennial Arena.
“Gards (Rhett Gardner) made a good play driving wide and I just thought I would try and crash the net,” said Edwardh on the big goal with just 2:54 left in the contest. “I kind of pushed (Fredrick) in, but the ref called it a goal so I’ll take it.”
It was going to take some puck luck for a winner to be declared after both teams rekindled memories of last year’s epic South Division final series with a back-and-forth defensive stalemate.
Hard-hitting Bandit Brandon Bruce showcased some offensive flair to open the scoring as he streaked in on the right wing and wired one past Okotoks’ Jared D’Amico. The Oilers were rewarded for a strong first period when Connor Hartley was left alone at the left faceoff dot to fire one past Fredrick.
An evenly matched middle frame saw both teams squander powerplay opportunities with quality scoring chances coming at a premium as Robbie Fisher’s deflection off the post and Ty Clay’s wrister off the bar coming closest to securing a lead for the hosts.
The South Division showdown looked headed for overtime after the Oilers were stymied on an extended five-on-three opportunity before Gardner and Edwardh’s late stage efforts.
“You could see today there was lots of chirping out there, we’re South rivals for sure,” said Edwardh. “It just adds to the intensity of the game.”
At the other end of the ice, Okotoks kept the Bandits at bay and held the two-time defending league champions to under 20 shots and scarce scoring chances.
“We’re starting to realize our identity of team defence and giving up 17 shots is pretty impressive against a team like Brooks,” said Oilers head coach James Poole.
“Five-on-five I thought we were real good, apart from the occasional turnover I thought we outworked them and I think our physical play frustrated them.”
The Oilers took the front-end of the home-and-home set in thrilling fashion as Tariq Hammond’s powerplay goal 26 seconds into overtime booked Okotoks the 3-2 win, Friday night in Brooks.
“The second period we really got dominated and outworked pretty bad, but we looked at it as we’re two-all going into the third period and probably fortunate to be in that situation,” Poole said. “We really stepped our game up and the shots probably don’t show it, but I thought we really controlled the third period and with the powerplay in overtime it was nice to bury that one.”
Edwardh and Jordan Swenson scored in regulation for the Oilers with Brooks’ Mark Logan and Madison Dunn bulging the twine for the hosts. D’Amico made 30 saves in the win.
“It gives us some confidence knowing we can play against the best teams in the league and hopefully it gives us that final push to catch up to Brooks and pass them in the standings,” Poole said. “We gave up one, but getting four points was huge for us this weekend.”
The four-point weekend gave Okotoks a 4-0 season series advantage on Brooks and extended its winning streak to five games as the team looks to have shaken off a forgettable month of November.
“We’ve turned it around from our little slide there,” Edwardh said. “It’s validation that we’re back on track now.”
The second-place Oilers (18-9-5) are just four points back of the Bandits for first in the South with two games in hand. Okotoks met the Drumheller Dragons, two points back in third place, on Tuesday night at Pason Centennial Arena, after the Western Wheel’s press time.
The Oilers will get reacquainted with life on the bus this weekend with a challenging three games in three days road-trip. The Oilers are in Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie and Whitecourt from Dec. 13-15. Okotoks closes out its home schedule before the holidays on Dec. 20 when the Grande Prairie Storm comes to town.
For full schedule information go to okotoksoilers.ca