Oilers have Bandits' number
Hockey: Okotoks picks up fifth win of the season over vaunted Brooks
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 06:00 am
The Okotoks Oilers are proving to be quite the thorn in the side of the defending national champions.
Okotoks took to the road to pick up its fifth win of the season in six meetings with the Brooks Bandits by posting a 1-0 shutout to spoil pack-the-rink night for the hosts on Saturday night.
“We always elevate our game against them and that goes back to last year,” said Oilers centre Connor Hartley. “We just like playing those guys and always bring our A-game.”
Riding a two-game winning streak entering play and eager to atone for a 6-1 loss to Brooks in its most recent meeting, the Oilers opened the scoring shortly into the second period.
Hartley was the benefactor of sound fore-checking from linemate Stefan Burzan to pour in his 16th of the season and silence the over 1,900 in attendance.
“It squared out in front of the net and luckily right on my stick and I just had to bang it in,” said Hartley.
“It definitely felt good to quiet the crowd a little bit, to put them in their place and good to get that first one.”
The Bandits responded in kind with 30 shots in the final 40 minutes, but the efforts of the back-to-back Alberta Junior Hockey League champions would prove fruitless.
Following consecutive shutouts from rookie goalie Keelan Williams, the torch was passed to primary starter Jared D’Amico on Saturday and the Chestermere native ran with it.
D’Amico stopped all 36 shots and extended Okotoks’ shutout streak to three games.
“The team played great in front of me and when a goalie gets a shutout it’s not just him usually,” said D’Amico on his third shutout of the season and seventh of his career. “Our d-men did a great job blocking shots and keeping most of their shots to the outside.
“Keelan played great in his two games against the Canucks and you’ve got to give him all the credit for that. (Saturday) was a very intense game and hopefully we can keep that going.”
The South Division leading Bandits have just 12 regulation loses this season, four of them to the Oilers with D’Amico in goal for each contest. Okotoks closed the season series with an impressive 5-1 record.
Some pleasant retribution for the Oilers after last year’s heartbreaking exit in Game 7 of the South finals at the hands of the Bandits.
“We know what it takes to beat them. If we see them in playoffs and stick to our game plan, I think we’ll be fine,” Hartley said. “(It’s about) being physical in their d-zone and not giving them the second and third opportunities that they like.”
The one-goal victory for Okotoks (30-17-5) cut Brooks’ division lead to nine points, the former holding two games in-hand, and brought the Oilers back into second where they sit even with the Drumheller Dragons with 65 points.
The Oilers were in Olds to clash with the Grizzlys on Tuesday night, after the Western Wheel’s press time.
Okotoks’ next home date is Friday, Valentine’s Day, when it kicks off a home-and-home back-to-back set with the Canmore Eagles. Puck-drop is 7 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena on Friday.
For more information on the Oilers go to okotoksoilers.ca