Oilers blank Canucks in Game 1
Hockey: Okotoks takes 1-0 lead in AJHL South semifinal
Friday, Mar 17, 2017 06:00 am
Okotoks jumped on a Calgary Canucks squad fresh off a five game opening round series to take Game 1 of the Alberta Junior Hockey League South semifinal by a 3-0 count behind a 34-save shutout from Riley Morris Friday night at Max Bell Arena.
"This is huge," said Oilers centre Jordan Xavier. "We knew they were probably pretty beat up from the first series. (Drumheller) is pretty physical, they pushed them pretty hard in those five games.
"We wanted to take advantage of that."
Okotoks fired nine pucks on goal before the Canucks registered a shot and found themselves in front within five minutes from puck-drop.
Seconds after the end of a powerplay Carter Huber's wrist shot from the slot trickled through Calgary netminder Logan Drackett for the crucial opening tally.
It could have been worse the hosts.
Drackett stood on his head to turn aside Jacob Bernard-Docker with a sublime glove save and stuck out the pad to rob Trey DeGraaf in the opening period.
The Canucks came on strong in period two, but there was no solving Morris.
Xavier broke the game open in the final minute of the middle frame after defenceman Riley Mathies won a battle at centre ice and sprung the pivot free for a partial breakaway.
After being turned aside by Drackett on a pair of golden opportunities earlier in the tilt, Xavier made the third chance count firing it off the glove side post and in to double the visitors' advantage.
"I got a fortunate bounce and ended up on the breakaway and put it low glove," Xavier said. "The big thing is just getting it on net these games. You don't want to be too cute, it's not always the pretty ones that go in."
DeGraaf completed the scoring with an empty-net tally from centre-ice with 2:29 left in regulation for the alternate captain's third goal of the post-season.
The second-round series gets back underway Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Max Bell. The best-of-seven set hits Okotoks for Game 3 on Monday evening at Pason Centennial Arena.
"In my opinion these are the two best goalies in the league going toe to toe here," Xavier added. "It's going to be a good series, it's not going to be easy. We've just got to continue to chip away and bear down on our opportunities."