Bantam Oilers take division banner
Hockey: Okotoks takes South crown on home ice, advance to league final
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 06:00 am
The little things added up to a big finish for the Okotoks Bantam AA Oilers.
Okotoks took advantage of home ice advantage and worked its way through to a divisional crown as winners of the South Central Alberta Hockey League South Division playoff tournament to move on to the league championship.
“Just absolute tonnes of buy-in this weekend,” said Oilers head coach Mike Glawson. “We’ve been preaching the little details to these guys all year and they really bought in.
“Doing the little details made a big difference this weekend, for sure.”
The round-robin format saw all seven division teams skate in four games to determine the top-four finishers to advance through to the semifinal.
Okotoks eked out a record of 2-1-1 to claim the third seed. The Oilers opened with a 6-2 triumph over the Foothills Bisons, tied the Medicine Hat Hounds 4-4, edged Wheatland Warriors by a 3-1 count and skated to a 3-1 loss to the Cranbrook Hornets.
Okotoks matched up with Taber in the semifinal and outlasted the high-octane Golden Suns in a 5-3 triumph on Sunday morning.
Jakob Mather led the way with a hat-trick while defenceman Jace Whaley added a goal and an assist in the victory.
“Taber is a good hockey team and could have easily been here (in the final),” Glawson said. “They’ve got a lot of firepower, but one of the things we identified with that team is their goaltending is not that strong, and their defence is not that strong.”
Okotoks drew the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the division final and scored three unanswered to dispatch the visitors by a 3-1 score Sunday afternoon at Pason Centennial Arena.
“In the finals you get all the adrenaline that keeps you going even though you’re super tired,” said Oilers defenceman Dru Krebs. “It’s a huge tournament with a lot of games and really hard on the body, but you’ve just got to push through.”
Lethbridge opened the scoring just two minutes into the final and carried the play in the opening period.
“After that first one you just have to shake it off and get back to business,” said Oilers goaltender Gage Alexander. “And try to help the team out with the victory.”
Alexander did his part and then came the offence.
Scott Brown opened the scoring in the middle frame on a behind-the-net feed from Kai Uchacz.
Connor Poffenroth gave Okotoks the lead after picking the inside corner on a two-on-one break before Uchacz added an insurance marker to close out the scoring in the second period.
“We just kept going, didn’t let off the gas and got it done,” said Oilers captain Kaden Uchacz. “We got pucks on net, played our game the way coaches told us, dump pucks deep and opportunities happened.”
Okotoks takes on the North Division winners, the West Central Tigers, in a best-of-three set starting Thursday in Okotoks at 6:45 p.m. at Murray Arena.
The Oilers won both regular season meetings between the clubs.
“It’s about staying focused in the dressing room,” Alexander said. “And not getting ahead of ourselves right now and going back to work on Monday.”
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