Oilers make playoff statement on home-ice
Hockey: Okotoks beats potential post-season foes Olds, Calgary
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
The Okotoks Oilers had one eye on the rapidly approaching post-season in completing a weekend sweep on home-ice.
Okotoks dispatched both of its potential playoff opponents with back-to-back wins over the Olds Grizzlys and Calgary Mustangs at Pason Centennial Arena to solidify its push for second in the South Division.
“I don’t think we played the game we would have liked against Olds, but we bounced back and played a pretty good game (versus Calgary) and in the third we pretty much dominated,” said Oilers leading scorer John Edwardh. “We sent the right message.”
In Saturday’s 5-1 triumph over the Calgary Mustangs, Edwardh was at the centre of the third-period surge in which the hosts scored four answered in the final frame.
After Calgary’s Jamie King and Okotoks’ Ty Clay exchanged markers in the first 40 minutes, Edwardh broke the deadlock with a breakaway beauty for his 30th goal of the season. On the next shift the Calgarian would feed linemate Connor Hartley for a tap-in, the Oilers’ second goal in a 38-second span. Edwardh collected his second of the period off a face-off win from Hartley and Derek Thorogood put the finishing touches on the victory when he was on the doorstep for a terrific slap pass from blueliner Josh Smith.
Hartley’s line, flanked by Ambrose Firkus and Edwardh, is on something of a roll with the former registering points in 10 straight games and the latter potting 12 points in his last six contests.
“It’s obviously just chemistry. As soon as we got put together we strung together some really good games,” Edwardh said. “Hopefully we can continue that down the road.”
Twenty-four hours earlier, the Oilers doubled up on the pugnacious Olds Grizzlys by a 4-2 count in a meeting of potential first-round opponents in Okotoks.
Thorogood snapped a six-game goalless streak by breaking the goose egg just 39 seconds after puck-drop. Towering blueliner Drew Weich doubled the advantage before the end of the opening frame when he jammed a rebound past Olds’ Ethan Jemieff to bury his first goal of the season.
Rookie pivot Rhett Gardner made it a three-goal game midway through the second period on a beautiful backhand deke before sliding it five-hole on Jake Tamagi, who relieved Jemieff after the first period.
Not a team willing to go down without a fight, the Grizzlys clawed back with 22 shots in the third period to make it interesting. Standout freshman Christopher Gerrie got Olds on the board, answered shortly thereafter from Okotoks’ Ty Clay on a backhand snipe.
Grizzlys captain and league scoring leader Spencer Dorowicz would add his 39th goal of the seasons to cut the deficit to two on a five-on-three advantage to complete the 4-2 final.
The Oilers have posted an 8-1 record in February, to solidify a four-point lead on the Drumheller Dragons in the race for second in the South.
“Tonight (versus Calgary) was good, especially the way we finished the game. (Friday) we probably gave Olds some confidence, especially with that third period,” said Oilers head coach/GM James Poole. “We have confidence against either team, but I think our guys know both teams are really dangerous in terms of how they play. We’re going to have to be at our best.
“With the parity we’ve had in our league this year, the first round is going to be a tough round. You want to make sure you don’t look past them because there are teams there that can definitely knock you out.”
The Oilers (35-18-5) close out their regular season this week on home ice. They host the Mustangs again on Thursday and clash with the Dragons on Friday. Both games are 7 p.m. starts at Pason Centennial Arena.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca