Even-keeled AA Oilers stay on top
Hockey: Okotoks Midget AAs way ahead of the pack in SCAHL
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Midget AA Oilers aren’t getting ahead of themselves despite seven straight victories and a commanding hold atop the league.
It’s a lesson they’ve picked up the hard way as back-to-back South Division champions with early playoff exits in the South Central Alberta Hockey League on their résumé.
“The last thing we want to do is fall asleep. We get that bye through the first round and it’s a dagger in our hearts the last three years,” said Oilers head coach Cliff Bordt.
“We’re going to really focus on getting better in practice and not getting complacent and going through the motions. It really comes down to practice for us, we’re really on top of and almost harder on our kids in practice, with the attention to detail.
“In the past we were thinking, ‘we’re winning, we’re rolling, everything is going to be good.’ Now even our three-year vets like Brodie (Wilson) are really stepping up to make our team better.”
It would be hard to blame the Oilers for walking with an extra pep in their step given their dominance of the South Central Alberta Hockey League.
Okotoks (18-2) has 33 more goals than the next closest opponent and sits second in the loop with just 50 goals against through 20 games.
The Oilers are undefeated against non-Calgary opposition with loses to the Northwest Bruins and Royals Gold the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect season.
However, the Oilers aren’t getting distracted by statistical supremacy.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re not really looking at playoffs yet,” said second year Oilers power forward Robbie McLean.
“We’re just trying to keep rolling.
“Hopefully we can remain composed and keep it going.”
Okotoks extended its winning streak to seven on Saturday night at Pason Centennial Arena in a 5-3 win over Red Deer, the second seed in a competitive North Division.
“Red Deer we had a tough game against them, beat them 6-3 last weekend, they outshot us, worked hard,” Bordt said. “I think they learned from playing us last game so they played better today.
“We tell our guys during this late bit here, especially against the better teams, that we need to play with more emotion, play more playoff style hockey, bump-and-grind, work a little harder to get pucks through.”
The teams exchanged blows in a competitive first-period with goals from Okotoks’ Rei Kikuchi and Red Deer’s James Gaume producing a 1-1 game through 20 minutes.
A second period slugfest ensued with Kyle Becker giving the hosts the lead on the powerplay and Red Deer returning the favour with a point-shot on the man-advantage that trickled through the wickets of Oilers netminder Isaac Stewart.
Okotoks regained the lead with McLean’s first of two in the period after a face-off win.
“Our centerman did a great job tying up on the draw,” McLean said. “I was able to come pick up the loose puck, wheel down and luckily dodged a hip-check, faked pass and then shot her five-hole.”
The visitors continued to counterpunch as Red Deer’s Shawn Rowe’s tally forced the third tie of the game. McLean would give the Oilers the lead for good when he intercepted a clearing attempt behind the net and quickly wrapped the puck in.
Sean McMaster, Okotoks’ leading goal scorer, added the insurance marker in the early stages of the third period.
“We came together as a team and the little plays helped us out the most. We just beared down and got the win,” Becker said. “It was nice to beat them at our home too, we beat them at their rink and we thought they might come out stronger and they did.
“They’re one of the stronger teams in the North so it’s nice to have that win against them.”
Okotoks completes its schedule before the holiday break on Friday, Dec. 20 when it meets the rival Foothills Bisons in Nanton. Puck-drop is 8 p.m. at the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre.
For more information on the AA Oilers go to ooaaoilerhockey.com