Grizzlys send Oilers into hibernation
Hockey: Okotoks eliminated from postseason following 5-1 loss
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 06:00 am
Revenge was a dish best served cold for the Olds Grizzlys.
The Grizzlys scored four unanswered in the third period to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Okotoks Oilers and win the opening round series 3-2, Wednesday night at Pason Centennial Arena, one year after bowing out in the do-or-die fifth game with the Oilers.
"We knew we could possibly wear down a team like Okotoks with lots of skill and us being a more blue-collar type team we wanted the series to go as long as it could," said Olds head coach Brett Hopfe. "We thought they could wear down and you could see it in the third period."
Olds enjoyed a promising start to the contest as well.
Buoyed by a boisterous section of travelling fans, the Grizzlys took the lead inside two minutes when BJ Duffin slid a rebound past Jared D'Amico. The lead wouldn't last. Oilers captain Robbie Fisher got the hosts on the board when he capitalized off a Grizzlys’ turnover and went in alone to beat Ethan Jemieff on a backhand deke 4:46 into a frantic opening frame.
The Grizzlys would get their down-low pressure game going in the second half of the period and nearly added a second when Spencer Dorowicz's wrap-around just went wide. Olds would finish the period with a 10-9 advantage on the shot clock.
Okotoks threatened to take its first lead of the game midway through the second stanza, but Jemieff stonewalled Rhett Gardner on the doorstep with a massive pad-save. Okotoks finished the period with a slight edge in overall shots at 22-21.
Rookie winger Kyle Star put the Grizzlys back up when he bounced on a rebound in the slot, 3:37 into the final frame. Jemieff preserved the lead with a pair of acrobatic saves in succession on Oilers sniper John Edwardh. Olds added insurance on an odd-man rush when Kyle Moore put a massive dent in the Oilers hopes with less than nine minutes to work with.
"It comes down to who's really willing to go to war," said Star. "We thought we worked a lot harder than them. We got it in deep and pounded them and put pucks on the net.”
Olds put the game to bed on the powerplay at the 15 minute mark when Jack Goranson fired one through D'Amico. Moore, who opened the series scoring, fittingly put the last touch on the massive upset by burying an empty-net shorthanded marker to see out the four-goal victory.
"I'm not sure why we wore down quicker in the series than they did, but I just think they had all 20 guys willing to pay the price," said Oilers head coach James Poole. "They won more battles, blocked more shots and we had a few guys that didn't quite pay the price, whether it was around the net-front areas paying the price to score a goal or blocking a shot or taking a hit.
"They wanted it a little bit more than we did, which is tough to say."
The Grizzlys move on to meet the top-seed Brooks Bandits, while the Drumheller Dragons and Canmore Eagles square off in the other second-round clash.
"We knew the first-round was going to be a tough one. There is so much parity that there were no freebies and it really turned out that way," Poole said. "It's definitely disappointing. If we got a little bit of momentum going I think this team could have gone far in the playoffs."
The loss marked the end of the Junior careers for a core group of Okotoks Oilers including third-year players Fisher, Connor Hartley, Jordan Swenson, Tariq Hammond as well as fellow 1993-born players Max Mowat, Ty Clay and Derek Thorogood.
"I owe everything to this organization and to Pooley for giving me a chance to play," said an emotional Fisher following Game 5. "For giving me three years that nothing is going to beat."
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca