Oilers drop playoff opener

Hockey: Grizzlys hold on for 4-3 win in Okotoks

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 06, 2014 06:00 am

Okotoks Oilers forward Tanner Ockey battles for net front presence with Olds Grizzly Lukas Pollock during Olds' 4-3 win in Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series, Thursday night at Pason Centennial Arena.
Okotoks Oilers forward Tanner Ockey battles for net front presence with Olds Grizzly Lukas Pollock during Olds' 4-3 win in Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series, Thursday night at Pason Centennial Arena.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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For the third year in a row the Olds Grizzlys came into Okotoks and took Game 1 of a playoff series by holding off the Oilers for the 4-3 win, Thursday night at Pason Centennial Arena, to take a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-five series.

"The energy level was good I just think maybe the moment got the best of us," said Oilers head coach/GM James Poole. "We were a little bit too excited for playoffs and maybe got a little unfocused.

"We make a mistake on the first goal in terms of our breakout positioning and our net front coverage was really poor tonight."

It was a nightmare start for the Oilers as Jared D'Amico was beaten on the first two shots he faced.

Just 12 seconds into the contest, the Grizzlys got on the board when Kyle Moore deflected a point-shot from blueliner Taylor Bilyk. Olds would double the lead on its next shot when Dustin Gorgi got his stick on a howitzer from defenceman Jack Goranson.

"I drove to the net and got a lucky goal there. A shot from the point and it went off my skate or my stick," said Moore on the opening tally. "That was a perfect start to get up two a couple minutes in and get them on the ropes."

The Oilers stopped the bleeding late in the opening frame on an odd-man rush when Ty Clay's low shot bounced to Tanner Ockey who lifted the puck over a leaping Ethan Jemieff into the back of the net. Two minutes later Okotoks added another when Clay wired one into the top-corner on the powerplay. Despite the nervous beginning, Okotoks finished the period outshooting the visitors by a 17-7 margin.

Déjà vu hit the middle frame for the Grizz. Olds' Landon Kletke had his wrap-around sneak by D'Amico to re-establish the advantage for the visitors two minutes after the intermission. Olds then made it a two-goal game through BJ Duffin, moments after D'Amico robbed Kletke on a clear breakaway.

"It was a rough start to the game and our kids responded well," Poole said. "To have them jump on a couple mistakes like that set us back and I don’t think we ever quite got our foot back on the gas."

Ockey was given the gate in the dying moments of the middle frame when he was ruled to have checked Kletke, who had to be carried off the ice, from behind. The Oilers then killed off the subsequent five-minute powerplay to start the final stanza. Okotoks had ample opportunities on the powerplay to claw back, but struggled to threaten Jemieff, and finished just one-for-eight on the man-advantage.

Okotoks finally cut into the lead with the extra-attacker on with 49 seconds left on the clock on a goalmouth scramble converted into the back of the cage from Connor Hartley.

Too little, too late for the hosts.

"I think the first game of the series is the most important so it's nice to get that one out of the way and hopefully do the same thing in Game 2," Moore said. "We've got to do a better job of staying out of the box, but we're a determined team. We get in front of shots and block shots anyway possible.

"I think anyone in there (the Grizzlys dressing room) would die for each other."

The teams are right back at it Friday night, March 7, at Pason Centennial Arena, for Game 2. The series shifts north to Olds for Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4, if necessary, on Monday evening. Should the best of-seven series go the distance, Game 5 would be Wednesday March 12 in Okotoks.

For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca


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