Oilers make history with perfect road-trip
Hockey: Okotoks goes three-for-three on northern sojourn
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am
Add mythbusters to the Okotoks Oilers’ list of accomplishments this season.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League proved December trips to the north of the province can, in fact, be an enjoyable experience after Okotoks rattled off three wins in as many days over the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, Dec. 13-15.
“Going into that (Whitecourt) game they told us no Oilers team has ever gone on a three-game road trip and won all three games,” said Oilers defenceman Jordan Swenson. “We wanted to be the first to do that so that was always in the back of our mind.
“That’s what we wanted. We’re trying to chase down Brooks right now and stay ahead of Drumheller and (that sweep) was really what we needed.”
The Oilers accomplished both.
Okotoks (21-10-5) is now just one point back of the Bandits for first in the South and two points up on the Dragons after putting together a 9-2 trouncing over the Wolverines on Sunday afternoon.
Ten different Oilers got on the scoreboard with John Edwardh leading the charges in a three-goal, five-point effort. Ty Clay and Tariq Hammond chipped in with a goal and three points each with Swenson, Rhett Gardner, Mitch Collett and rookie Jake Dube, who netted his first Junior goal, all scoring in the nine-goal rout.
Okotoks finished a staggering 6-for-8 on the man-advantage to improve to second in the league in powerplay efficiency.
“That powerplay we’ve been kind of hot-and-cold with it so it’s nice to get it heated up a bit before the break comes around,” Swenson said. “We’ve been changing things up a little bit. We have a lot of different looks to try and it was just finding a couple that work and sticking to them.
“When you’re hot, you’re hot and everything just seemed to work for us on Sunday.”
Okotoks earned two points in more conventional fashion in a 2-1 win over the Storm in Saturday’s defensive stalemate in the Swan City.
Two-way centre Connor Hartley put the team on his back in tallying both Okotoks goals, an unassisted marker four minutes into the contest and a powerplay goal in the second period. Grande Prairie’s Ian McLellan added a consolation goal with just 14 seconds remaining.
“We came out firing and on the first one I just picked off a pass in the middle and got it on net and it went in,” Hartley said. “The second one was on the powerplay and the puck just found its way onto my stick and all I had to do was put it in.
“That was a big one. That’s a tough barn to win in usually, but we stuck together and it gave us a lot of momentum for the third game.”
Okotoks kicked off the road-trip on the right foot on Friday by dispatching the Thunder in Drayton Valley by a 5-1 score.
The Oilers’ powerplay was at the centre of the onslaught with three unanswered goals through Mitch Amatto, debutant Ambrose Firkus and Edwardh, all of whom tallied on the man-advantage.
Collett and Amatto would add insurance goals at even-strength to see out the comfortable four-goal victory for the Oilers.
Jared D’Amico was in goal for all three games on the weekend and stopped 81 of 85 shots on the busy three-day trek.
Okotoks, winners of eight of their last nine games, will look to keep the good times rolling on Friday when they face the Storm for the second time in six days, this time in Big Rock Country. Puck-drop is 7 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena.
“We’ve been hot lately and we want to end it right going into the Christmas break,” Hartley said. “We’re only one point back of first right now so it’s definitely big points that we need.”
Following the Storm showdown, the Oilers travel to Drumheller to face the Dragons on Saturday night to close out their pre-holiday slate.
For more information on the Oilers go to okotoksoilers.ca