Underdog Oilers worthy hosts
Hockey: Okotoks Midget Females make provincial playoffs
Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 10:48 am
The Okotoks Midget A Oilers didn’t have to dig deep to find consolation in a semifinal showing as provincial hosts.
After winning its pool, the Okotoks Oilers saw their gold medal dreams dashed at the semifinal stage when they fell 4-2 to the Fort Saskatchewan Fury at the Midget A Female provincials, Sunday morning at Murray Arena.
“When you look at how the draw shook out and a lot of people think because you’re hosting you’re maybe not worthy so to win our pool is pretty cool,” said Oilers head coach Roddie Davidson. “We wanted to play one more game, but no regrets, they gave their best.
“This was our 43rd game of the year and we really peaked at the right time. Just immensely proud of them.”
Fort Saskatchewan played with fury from the opening puck-drop. The visitors built up a 3-0 advantage before Okotoks’ Madison Nesom’s tally stopped the bleeding late in the middle frame. The Fury bounced back on the next shift as Shailyn Bettac capitalized on an Oilers turnover at the blueline to restore the three-goal lead.
“The other team got a couple of goals, one was shorthanded,” said Oilers defenceman Nicole Hornsby. “And a couple bounces where the puck just went in.”
The Oilers poured it on in the final frame and finally cut into the lead when smooth skating Jordyn Snyder won a puck-race up the ice and lifted the puck past Fury netminder Robyn McPherson. The shorthanded marker was as close as the hosts would get as Fort Saskatchewan held on for the two-goal win.
“Those girls played as hard as they could,” Davidson said of the semifinal tilt. “It’s not a case of I should have done that, should have done this, they played as hard as they could and hats-off to Fort Saskatchewan. They’re a good, tough, physical hockey team.”
The provincial hosts enjoyed a round-robin to remember through the first two days of competition in the foothills.
Okotoks scored goals for fun through the first three contests of pool play with the newly formed trio of Nesom, Cassidy Davidson and Kaitlin Saunderson at the centre of the attack.
Behind a two-goal game from Nesom and single tallies from Davidson and Meelayna Moran, the Oilers opened tournament play with a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Heat on March 20.
It was more of the same on day-two, as Okotoks scored three in the third period to secure their 5-2 triumph of the Sherwood Park Bladz.
Saunderson, Davidson, Snyder, Maddie Wilton-Clark, and Rae-Ann Borbely all found the back of the net in a balanced attack for the Oilers.
After a short reprieve of a few hours, Okotoks got back on the ice and threw up a 7-3 scoreline on Grande Prairie. Saunderson and Nesom both potted hat-tricks with blueliner Sydney Wilson rounding out the scoring in a one-goal, three point performance.
The victory clinched top-spot in Pool A for the Oilers and set up a round-robin finale versus Onoway with only pride to play for. Onoway, eliminated from playoff round contention, played with nothing to lose and skated to a hard fought 5-0 victory on March 22.
“Going 3-0 through the first three games was unreal. It got us really excited,” said Oilers alternate captain Danielle Meyers. “The losses were tough, but I’ve never had a better team.
“Even with losing, everybody is just really happy overall.”
An excellent way to cap off a minor hockey career for Oilers seniors Wilton-Clark, Meyers and Hornsby.
“It was really awesome to make it, to host it, our first three games were awesome,” said Wilton-Clark. “We won out our pool and came in as the underdogs so I’m proud we made it to semis.
“It was a great way to end our season and provincials were an honour.”
Despite the loss of three key seniors, the future remains bright in Big Rock Country with up to 11 third-year incumbents on the team next season.
“A year ago we had 11 or 12 first-years, now we have 11-12 second years and next year with them getting better every year we should be virtually unstoppable,” Davidson said.
This season it was the Fury who were the immovable object at the provincial tourney.
Fort Saskatchewan dispatched the Olds Grizzlys 2-0 in the gold medal game, Sunday afternoon at Pason Centennial Arena.
For more information on the Hockey Alberta provincials go to hockeyalberta.c